On July 29th 2018 we lost our darling Dom, aged 44. He died from a cancer called Mucosal Melanoma, which is a rare form of malignant melanoma (skin cancer) that affects the lining of various parts of the body (such as nasal passages, mouth, bowel etc) rather than the skin itself.
Dom was my beloved husband and the devoted father of our daughters Lily (age 10) and Gracie (age 8) and he died too young. He was deeply loved by all his family and friends and was the kindest, funniest, wisest, most compassionate and giving soul I have ever known. He was also the healthiest of men and did all the ‘right’ things – drank green tea, munched on super foods, exercised daily and took part in triathlons, but Mucosal Melanoma takes no prisoners (or at least very few).
Mucosal Melanoma is a rare and very aggressive cancer which easily spreads to other parts of the body, especially the brain (which happened to Dom), and causes metastatic (secondary) cancers. It is very difficult to treat and in general has a very poor outcome, although around 10-20% of cases are sensitive to some targeted drugs and it is highly likely that others have yet to be identified through research. Yet there is currently no funding for research into Mucosal Melanoma from either the NHS or any of the big cancer charities and there can be no research without funding. In fact, there is generally a huge imbalance between the percentage of people that die of a rare cancer (56% of all cancer deaths) and the amount of national funding that goes into rare cancer research (only 5.1% of total National Cancer Research Institute members spend goes into rare cancer research)*.
I want to help change this and that is why I have set up this memorial fund in Dom’s name. All donations will go directly into funding a new three year research project into Mucosal Melanoma which will be carried out by a PhD student at Imperial College, Hammersmith under the supervision of Dom’s genius oncologist Dr Tim Crook (BSc PhD MBBS FRCP) and the brilliant Dr Nelofer Syed (BSc PhD). The cost of this is £90,000 over three years. The aim of the research is to significantly improve understanding of this horrid cancer and to find new treatments that will ultimately save lives. If I can help spare just one family in the future the pain of losing someone they love, then my job will be done.
Bridgepoint, the company that Dom worked for, have already made an extraordinarily generous donation of £50,000 which means the project has already been green lit. We have also now received another extremely generous donation of £10,000 from the Utley Foundation (set up by Neil Utley). Anything you can do to help us reach the overall £90,000 target (£30,000 via Just Giving) would be hugely, hugely appreciated. The charity that all donations will pass into and who fund and manage the lab is the Brain Tumour Research Campaign (BTRC). This will ensure every penny goes into project and that all donations receive gift aid (where eligible).
More about the research project
The proposed PhD project will use a variety of advanced molecular, genetic and cell biology techniques, including comprehensive molecular profiling, to identify the pathways regulating the growth, invasiveness and metastasis in mucosal melanoma. They will work with established cell lines and clinical material to pursue these research goals. Ultimately, our goal is to get a better understanding of the processes by which the aggressive phenotype of mucosal melanoma occurs and to find novel therapeutic strategies to block these pathways.
The John Fulcher Neuro-oncology Laboratory, where the research will be carried out, was established by the Brain Tumour Research Campaign (BTRC) to study molecular pathways in brain tumour cells, which were collected from brain tumour patients at Charing Cross Hospital – working with live brain tumour tissue, the scientists identify metabolic pathways which can alter (and therefore slow or stop) the growth of cancer cells. Since there are almost as many secondary brain tumours as primary, their research has included studies of metastatic tumours, including melanoma (which commonly spread to the brain).
*Statistic quoted by charity 'Cancer 52'.