David’s Story

During December 2019, David was diagnosed with stage 2 melanoma which progressed to stage 3 melanoma about year later with the spread to the lymph nodes in his neck. In August 2021, David’s melanoma further progressed to stage 4 spreading to his liver, lungs and spine. In January 2024, following on from his immunotherapy treatment (combination ipilimumab and nivolumab followed by nivolumab) and radiotherapy to his spine, David was told that he had no evidence of disease (NED). He now attends routine follow up appointments. He is very keen to raise awareness and help others who may be going through a cancer diagnosis.

Here he very kindly shares some of his highs and lows from the past 4 years, offering tips and advice to fellow patients:

-I was initially so scared; I really did not know what to expect. I was numb for months. I had a full head of hair and yet a lesion was found on my scalp. It is so important to regularly check areas of skin that are exposed to the sun and of course, wear a hat.

-Google isn’t always your friend, given the thickness of the lesion and type, I thought I was going to die. Make sure to visit reputable and accredited websites to find informative and trusted information. The Melanoma Focus website is a key example of this.

-I found the many operations and radiotherapy (in neck region) very tough.

The whole experience felt like a rollercoaster. I was told in January 2020 that I was clear of the disease, and again in December 2020. However, it came back in full force in August 2021 at stage 4 in liver, lungs and spine. At that point, I really thought I was going to die. I was very worried to say the least. I have a lovely family with 3 kids. I didn’t want to leave them.

-I was lucky to get a response to immunotherapy with limited side effects. You can learn more about immunotherapy and side effects, here. 

-I personally think that a good base level of fitness helped my body become more resilient and response better to treatment. Learn more about exercise and melanoma, here. 

-Once the cancer was stabilised, I found so much joy in living life in 3 monthly instalments (around scan dates).

-I learnt that I was stronger than I thought and that my mind is amazing at repairing/moving on.

-I learnt to live with cancer and had fun.

-I am so grateful for new drug developments. Stage 4 melanoma has historically had a poor outcome for the majority of people. Immunotherapy is changing that story for some, but I recognise there is more to do. I feel so lucky, but also know that I am far from being ‘out of the woods’ just yet.

-Never give up hope. It is amazing what has and continues to be developed in respect of treatments. Stay positive and make sure you have enough support around you, both practically and emotionally.

 Why is Melanoma Focus important to you?

I have a strong desire to give back. I have been working closely with Addenbrookes Charitable Trust as a fundraiser. I heard about Melanoma Focus from my consultant who is a trustee of Melanoma Focus. I would like to engage more with the melanoma community to share my story, help others and raise awareness. Prevention is far better than cure. The work that Melanoma Focus does to improve awareness of the dangers of the sun, sunbeds, etc is crucial.  I am amazed that 86% of melanomas are preventable; there is so much more to be done!