I’m sort of at the centre of this challenge thing and as such should probably do a half decent job of introducing myself if I expect you good people to be inspired to dig deep and support our cause. So here goes…
I was diagnosed as a Stage 4 Melanoma patient in November 2011, when this most unpredictable of cancers was found to have spread to my lungs. Until very recently this would have meant that I wouldn’t be here now writing this but I was lucky enough to be put onto a clinical trial for an experimental drug called Vemurafenib. I feel extremely lucky that to date this has had a positive effect in controlling my disease, as many other very good people haven’t been so lucky and my thoughts go out daily to the friends and family they have left behind.
I vowed to use this ‘extra time’ constructively and in June 2012 decided to embark on the inaugural Something Silly challenge to raise awareness of Melanoma, as well as donations for Factor50 who help fund research into this type of cancer. I was humbled and inspired by the support I received from family and friends as we took on the 100 miles of the South Downs Way over 3 days and would count it as the singular most meaningful experience of my 51 years on this planet (outside of major family events) . To me these people will always be my heroes and I was not surprised one iota that each of them signed up to Team SSIJ 2013 – they are, to a person, truly great and will never completely understand what their generosity means to me.
Another major achievement last year was being the Patient Expert on the NICE appraisal process for the drug I’m taking. After much debating and campaigning, my drug and another have been passed for standard use by the NHS in the treatment of Malignant Melanoma. This is a major leap forward in the treatment of this cancer and the first new treatment for 30 years. This now gives hope to many where there once there was none and I am proud to have been a small part in achieving this. Factor50 however were a major part of the process and this demonstrates the need to raise vital funds for them – they selflessly do fantastic work on behalf of thousands and with instances of Melanoma growing yearly, the work of Factor50 becomes ever more important. Please give generously – your money really does help keep people like me alive.
So, twice as far and twice as high this time with a whole extra day to complete the challenge. Gee thanks. Still the addition of two wheels for part of the way should be an interesting dimension – I at least like riding mountain bikes!!
I now strive each day to Make a difference and Make it count – here’s hoping.