A 36-year-old man with stage 4 incurable skin cancer is walking the Welsh Coastal Path for Melanoma Focus Charity
Luke’s journey first started back in 2014 when he noticed an unusual mole on his back and he went to his GP to get it checked out.
Luke said: “It was confirmed as Melanoma skin cancer. Being ignorant, at the time, I thought “it’s just skin, it can be cut out”. Luckily for me it was localised melanoma and could simply be surgically removed. Fast forward five years later and I’m living a fulfilling life like any 30 plus year old. I’d developed a successful career in architecture and met my lovely partner Yuri…life was great.
“Another unusual mole. This time on my arm and again it was localised and removed….phew. However, something wasn’t right. I occasionally started to feel weak, nauseous and on the same side of my body where the mole was removed, my armpit started to swell. Was this a lymph node reaction?! Time for a hospital biopsy….
“As soon as I walked into the consultants room for the results I saw the nurse holding a pack of leaflets and my gut sunk, I knew. It was confirmed stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. It had spread across my skin and in my lymphatic system. It felt like a death sentence.”
But there is hope. I’m currently being fantastically cared for at Guys and St Thomas hospital, London. Treatment to prolong life has developed immensely in the past 10 years. In Jan 2020 I started my first course of immunotherapy but responded with a mixed reaction. The therapy had reduced major tumour burdens, however my health deteriorated over the next 3 months and on one occasion I spent 18 consecutive days in hospital. I had lost over a stone in weight and had severe tumour growth in my left axillary and chest. I can remember one particular occasion when I was in so much pain, I couldn’t lift my arms over my head to go into the PET scanner. Then the next plan of action, a change over to targeted treatment. Within 3 days I could see tumours reducing and continued with a good response thereafter. I can now do star jumps…Remarkable!
“I continue to take targeted treatment daily and although I do suffer from side effects, I now have a good quality of life again. However, this treatment has a shelf life with an average response of 12 to 14 months….I am now on my 15th month. I will continue to fight this disease and live in hope that I have many years ahead of me, especially with continuing advances in medicine.
“With this, I plan to Walk the Welsh Coastal Path. A self funded 2 to 3 month walk along 870 miles of beautiful Welsh coast with a backpack, (allowing myself to sample the local beer and chip shops along the way). The money I raise will go to Melanoma Focus. An amazing charity that funds research and also offers support and guidance to consultants and patients alike. I am doing this not only to raise money but to also raise awareness as skin cancer is on the rise, especially amongst young people. I know this will be tough on me mentally and physically, especially while combating side effects, but I am in need of a challenge that keeps me fit, strengthens my immunity and also gives me a new sense of purpose, an achievement I can be proud of.
“I will endeavour to finish this walk in one hit – health and side effects permitting – and would love for you to follow my journey. Insta link below.
“We all have been caught out by the sun, just remember to protect your skin and wear SPF 50 sunscreen every two hours, my cancer journey started with melanoma that was no bigger than a pencil tip and now I’m stage 4. Get any peculiar moles checked by your GP or dermatologist. If you have questions relating to any aspect of melanoma please call the Melanoma Focus helpline which can be found on their website.
“Life has been great to me and continues to be great. Cancer won’t rule me. Thanks for reading.”
Love and protect your skin.