Melanoma took 58-year-old Peter Heywood by surprise. He noticed a small lump on his scalp which he decided to have assessed. It was Stage III melanoma. “It never occurred to me that it would be melanoma,” Peter said. “You can imagine my surprise when the biopsy came back as a Stage III melanoma, which meant it had already spread to the lymph nodes in my neck and shoulder.”
Peter underwent surgery to remove the primary tumour as well as lymph nodes in his neck and shoulder. A second lump was then discovered on his scalp which required another round of surgery. That’s when Peter received the news that his melanoma had progressed to Stage IV, meaning it had spread to other organs.
“It was like having a death sentence hanging over my head,” Peter said. “When I knew it was Stage III I felt confident about beating it, but the news that the melanoma had spread was just devastating, not only for me but also for my family. I had to stop working, and focus on doing what I could to just stay alive.”
Peter was eligible for participation in a clinical trial of nivolumab being run by Melanoma Institute Australia, which he began almost straight away. The results have been promising, with the tumours in his abdomen and liver reducing by some 75%. He is now looking towards a future enjoyed with his family and friends. “I am living proof of the power of research and just what can be achieved when the world’s best minds focus on coming up with new and innovative treatments,” Peter said. “We have some of the world’s best here in Australia with Professor Georgina Long and her team leading the way in research, trials and saving lives. These clinical trials are proving that melanoma can in fact be slowed, if not halted, but there is still a lot more that needs to be done,” he said.
Peter and his family took his second chance at life as an opportunity to help join the fight against melanoma. They rallied to attend Melanoma March Sydney at Barangaroo in 2017 and raised more than $1,500 for research, taking Peter’s support of Melanoma Institute Australia to close to $4,000. He is urging other families to join him when he returns to Melanoma March 2018.
“We will be back in 2018, once again doing our bit to raise awareness and much needed funds for research,” Peter said. “We can’t do it alone – I’d urge everyone to sign up for a Melanoma March close to home, to work together to end melanoma for our future generations.”