Warren's story

Tuesday 6 July, 2021

My recovery from stage 4 melanoma truly feels like a miracle. But I know that cancer research, like the research you’ve helped fund, is what really saved my life.

Growing up in Bendigo, I loved the outdoors, and today I fondly remember holidays out on the water at Lake Eppalock. As an adult, I continued on with my love of the sun and nature by becoming a horticulturist.

When I started in the 80s, our uniform was a singlet and shorts with no sunscreen. I’m so glad that kids today know to cover up.

I first noticed a dark freckle on my shoulder 10 years ago when I was 45 years old. But it wasn’t until about five years later that it started to change shape, and I realised I had to do something about it.

I was diagnosed with melanoma and my medical team quickly removed the tumour. I thought that was the end of my cancer story.

But just like Sam, whose story you might remember, the melanoma returned worse than before. I had follow-up scans done two years later and went to receive my results without any support. In my mind, it was just a regular check-up.

But this was no standard appointment – I was told the melanoma was back. It was stage 4 and had spread to my brain, liver and lungs.

At Peter Mac receiving treatment

I was a mess and felt like I was a dead man walking. When I saw the scans and the size of the tumours, I thought I was going to die. But thanks to ground-breaking cancer treatments, I am still here today.

I’ve been on an immunotherapy program which uses the patient’s own immune system to fight cancer by boosting the cells in your body – just like the cancer research you’ve funded. That’s been reducing the tumours on my lungs and liver and other places quite dramatically.

I’m so thankful that more effective treatments like immunotherapy have been available to me. They have allowed my medical team to focus more on my difficult-to-treat brain tumours.

Thank you for your kind gift that helps even more people like me survive melanoma.

Together you’ve raised more than $725,000 that will fund research into more effective cancer treatments. You’re helping bring more cancer patients home to their loved ones.

I know that I am so lucky to be alive today, thanks to the incredible therapies born from cancer research. But the distress I have felt over the past 18 months has still been immense – both for me and my partner Gregg. I feel like I’m in limbo land – I’ve had to give up work and spend most of my days at Peter Mac.

That’s why I’m so grateful to generous people like you who decide to fund cancer research. Your selflessness gives me, and others like me, hope that treatment options will continue to improve.

Gregg and I on our wedding day

You’re helping melanoma patients spend less time in hospitals so they can get back to their loved ones and their lives – and that’s a wonderful thing.

Best wishes,

Warren Penna