As many of you know, my wife Shiona continues to be treated for advanced melanoma at the Royal Marsden. I can safely say that I wouldn't want her to be treated by any other team; the care they have provided and continue to provide us is first class.
To raise awareness of one of the fastest growing cancers in the UK (but one which is preventable in about 90% of cases), Shiona has been writing a blog and you can follow her story at:
Shiona's immunotherapy treatment has been cutting edge and notwithstanding positive results to date, the treatment also saw her hospitalised for 3 weeks due to a serious adverse effect as a consequence of her immune system attacking her own liver (at one point her liver reading was over 40 times normal levels). Despite everything that has been thrown her way, Shiona's attitude, spirit and determination has been amazing.
Immunotherapy is a new great hope for cancer treatment and can provide life lengthening outcomes but as Emma Smith of CRUK said:
"We're still at the start of really understanding immunotherapy, drilling down into how it works, who should receive it, who is it going to work for, why doesn't it work for everyone, and what type of cancers will it be effective against. We're still at the very tip of these discoveries. It's such an exciting field and there is going to be a lot more to come over the next five to ten years."
It is a fascinating subject area (well above my pay grade) and one that you would rather wish you had remained oblivious to but the last few months have also provided a fascinating insight into and respect for all of the researchers, doctors, nurses and support teams working so hard to provide 1st class care to patients and their loved ones when it is needed the most.
Along with 3 other friends, I am running the Royal Parks Half Marathon to support Shiona's 'Shomelanoma' fundraising initiative.
I personally have never run a half marathon before (or even a 10km); in fact I am struggling to recall when I last ran for so much as a bus! I have always hated running for running's sake. Therefore, this will be a challenge for me especially with so little time to train but nevertheless, I will give it a go.
Any donations, no matter the amount, will be of great encouragement to me to try and get to the finish line.
You can also donate via text - please text SHOM73 £5, £10 etc to 70070. Huge thanks in advance.
All funds raised will form part of Shiona's wider fundraising initiative as part of 'Team Shomelanoma' and will be allocated to her oncologist, Dr. James Larkin's on-going research fund.