As I pass my 7-month anniversary of being diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma, I consider myself VERY FORTUNATE to be here living life almost as normal with the exception of a few pills in the morning and evening. My current goal is to be drug free by Xmas, which I was told, is realistic SUBJECT to good blood tests, which I am having every 2 weeks. Every Monday is no longer spent with a trip to Marsden HQ (less people watching at the Ivy Café Chelsea!)
In the last month, we have been out having fun fundraising for the melanoma team at Marsden HQ. Only 5 years ago, the average life expectancy for stage 4 melanoma was 6 to 9 months and there is still no known cure. The hard reality is whilst I am currently feeling fine, I am only too aware of how quickly things can change. The pioneering immunotherapy treatment – (ipilimumab and nivolumab) I received is very new and while I have been fortunate to respond, I experienced one of the worst cases of grade 4 auto-immune hepatitis seen by Dr Larkin’s team.
There are too many lives lost from this dreadful cruel disease that is melanoma. Only a small proportion of patients respond to immunotherapy and there is much research and work to be done to understand why certain patients respond, who will experience side effects that are demanding to manage plus develop new treatments for patients that don’t respond to immunotherapy. All of this takes years of research, clinical trials and requires a lot of funding.
The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity has committed to raising £15 million over the next 5 years to fund research enabling world-leading experts to run innovative clinical trials using immunotherapy for the benefit of patients everywhere.
The shomelanoma team of my husband David and friends Chris, Fraser and Fiona took on the Royal Parks Half Marathon on Oct 8. It was a beautiful sunny autumn day and as we headed to the start I found myself more stressed as a supporter than I would have been participating. It is normally me that is lining up to participate in these races. I had no need to worry as the team all successfully completed the race in good times with Chris finishing first and Dave, Fiona and Fraser all coming across the line together. They also raised a fantastic sum of money with over £7K raised so far. A HUGE thanks you to all of them and also everyone who sponsored them.
The fabulous Jonny Awsum hosted a hilarious comedy evening on Oct 18 at the Bearcat comedy club and lined up a fantastic comedy line up of Alistair Williams, Mark Simmons, and Rich Wilson. We laughed, sang and cried and as I looked around the room there were wall-to-wall smiles lighting up everyone’s faces. I haven’t laughed that much for a long time.
Freddie, my good friend Rachael’s son provided the quote of the evening when he told her that “Laughter is good Medicine” and that’s so true. A MASSIVE thank you to Jonny, all the comedians, the Turks Head and everyone who donated prizes, bought raffle tickets and came along to make such an enjoyable evening that raised over £1,500. If you want to catch Jonny’s upcoming shows full details are here http://www.jonnyawsum.com
The fabulous Alix Arrowsmith brought her Younique make up tips and goodies to help the girl squad get glammed up for a cocktails and makeovers party evening. It was a lot of fun as the girls tested out new looks for the upcoming party season with Alix on hand to help us create the winged eye look. Some of the looks can be seen below and a HUGE thank you to Alix and all of the gorgeous girlsquad who came along and made it such a fun evening. We will be making a donation to the shomelanoma fund based on the sales from the evening.
We are now onto planning the next fundraisers and if you would like to get involved hosting your own Cake sale, Curry evening, Quiz night or take part in a challenge to help our fundraising please let me know and we can help you get organized. The Royal Marsden also has many challenges available in 2018, see the attached link for further details: https://www.royalmarsden.org/support-us/fundraise/events?page=1
The next major shomelanoma fundraiser is the Danceathon, which is going to be a lot of fun. It’s time to show off your dancing skills whilst raising funds for a great cause. We are looking at dates for Q1 2018 and would love to hear from you if you would like to join us.
David’s no drinking challenge has reached day 216 with Xmas fast approaching he is debating whether his willpower can last through the party season to reach a full 365 days having already turned down a corporate day at the rugby this weekend for fear of succumbing to the free champagne and malbec. Help him resist the temptation and reach that 365-day total.
The shomelanoma team has signed up for the 100km walk on the beautiful Jurassic coast on 21 and 22 July, 2018. If you would like to join us full details are here https://www.active.com/poole/running/distance-running/jurassic-coast-challenge-2018?int=72-3-A1
The total fundraising total is close to £14K. As always thank you to everyone who has supported and donated which is helping the continued research, clinical trials and work of the amazing melanoma team at the Royal Marsden where I am very fortunate to be treated.