“I see a beautiful little boy growing up without his dad, who won’t be there to share his milestones. I see the struggles Sam’s wife, Emma, has daily and it breaks my heart.”
– Sophie, Sam’s mum.
Sam (right) was a bright, active and doting dad to Cole (left).
Sadly, Sophie lost her adult son, Sam, to melanoma when he was only 40 years old.
Sam left behind his wife Emma and his young son, Cole, who was just three years old when his dad died. It breaks Sophie’s heart that Sam will miss so much of his son’s life.
Melanoma is all too common in Australia. But, thanks to kindness like yours, Cancer Council researcher Professor Thomas Gebhardt is about to take the next step in improving treatment for melanoma.
Will you please donate today so more dads can see their kids grow up?
Sophie remembers when Sam was just a little boy, he loved playing outside in the sun and was a natural sportsman.
“He was a happy little kid and was always fun to be around,” said Sophie. “The sun was almost a treasured thing, and something that kids were happily out and about playing in for many hours without having protection. It was just part of the era.”
Sam looked like his son, Cole, when he was little
Many years later in 2009, after Sam had grown up and gotten married, one of his moles caught his wife Emma’s attention.
“Emma noticed this mole on the back of his head. She noticed it was getting more aggressive and changing colour and shape,” remembers Sophie.
Sam had his mole removed. “They did a biopsy and found that it was stage three melanoma. But we all thought then that they’d got it all, that he’d gotten rid of it,” said Sophie.
Not long after, Sophie received some wonderful news – she was going to be a grandmother. In 2011, Sam’s son Cole was born, and shortly afterwards, Sam was told that he was cancer free.
It was a wonderful time, but sadly it didn’t last long. In September 2014, Sam received the news that his cancer had returned, and was given a shocking four weeks to live.
Thanks to a trial drug, Sam would thankfully survive longer than four weeks. But not long enough.
Eventually it spread to his brain. Sophie remembers “In March of 2015 he had targeted radiation. He didn’t really bounce back from that. He passed away in August 2015.”
Today, Sam only exists in Cole’s dreams. Sophie is careful to keep her son’s memory alive in Cole’s mind. “He calls him his heaven dad. He’s been mentioning him more lately.”
Today, Cole knows his dad only through memories and photographs.
Thankfully, Professor Gebhardt and his team’s research could help save other dads like Sam, so they can watch their children grow up. His project’s new approach to treating melanoma could be revolutionary.
They’re studying a particular group of immune cells, which they believe are key players in protection from skin cancer – and could play a vital role in preventing melanoma.
“If we really understand how they operate and how they work, we can actually tweak those immunotherapies to achieve better outcomes, and perhaps even prevent long-term recurrence.”
“We are very optimistic that we can achieve very important things in this area. Because new cures start with research. It’s as simple as that.”
Lifesaving cancer research is possible because of generosity like yours. Will you donate today so researchers can find new ways to limit the harm of melanoma?