Please DO NOT DELETE this page.

Blog //
  • Membership
//

Member stories - My journey through melanoma

17 May, 2017
Melanoma

It began with a pea size lump. On my chest, nearly under my arm, just prior to Christmas, 2012. My GP said I probably shouldn't worry too much and that it could wait till after our overseas trip to remove it for biopsy.  But how could we go away with that on our minds? So my wife and I decided to get the jolly thing removed post haste and find out what was what. As it happened, the GP found removing the lump more difficult than he expected, and the biopsy came back as melanoma. And so began my journey in earnest.

In February, all my lymph nodes were removed on my right side. When this operation had healed, scans followed and I was referred to an oncologist. He arranged a full PET scan and the results of this were a real shock: extremely aggressive, metastised melanoma, just about all over, and particularly in my brain.  Oh dear.  And the prognosis was grim, 3 or 4 months was the general life expectancy. So, by now, July was looming badly for me.

My oncologist is a hardworking, enthusiastic young specialist who has been involved in many cancer drug trials and, in his opinion, the only thing he could suggest was a very new drug called Yervoy Ipilimumab. Apparently, it was my only hope at that stage, but it was horrendously expensive.  There was no option. Great changes would have to be made, but as a family group we were as one. Yervoy was the way to go. And so the first of 4 infusions was arranged with the others at 3 weekly intervals.

Looking back, the CBHS approval was life changing – things started to look up from this point (despite a couple of hiccups on the way). And by the time of the final infusion, Yervoy was on the Government list, another good omen. July came and went. By this time, I was well into radiation therapy as well.

Then, as the Yervoy kicked in, and time went on, the CT scans started to show signs that the tumours were reducing. Yervoy was indeed proving to be a miracle drug, designed to work in a new way with the body through the immune system and thus on the previously untreatable, metastised melanoma. And I was lucky enough to have the right body to go with it.

I had one more Yervoy round of 4 infusions, and this made me very ill indeed. But after treatment in hospital, I finished the round, with very bad memories of it and a huge weight loss of 17 kg.

With medication for dehydration, bowel problems and swelling of the brain, being maintained and monitored, I started to get my appetite back and started to put weight back on.  I was starting to feel OK!

I had another PET scan to see how the last Yervoy had worked and the result was nothing short of miraculous – not just my opinion, all the doctors were just amazed. There was now no cancer evident, anywhere, and the big tumour in my brain was now just scar tissue (and I can cope with the headaches this is causing knowing it is just scar tissue).

I am now on 3 monthly oncologist visits and am due for another PET scan in a few weeks. It is hard not to feel anxious about this, but I have now been told that I am eligible for another new drug should the melanoma recur, and this one is purported to have no side effects, as well as being on the PBS.  I have definitely been on a miracle ride through this whole process.

They never found the melanoma which caused all this hassle, and I'm told this sometimes happens.

Modern medicine is a wonderful thing. But so is state of mind.  It has to be noted that the journey which had started out so terribly for me, began to turn around from the moment the CBHS said they would back me, and I was relieved of that financial worry. A great weight off my mind.  Sam kept in touch all the way and I was very grateful for his support and thoughtfulness. Some fights just can't be done on your own.

Heartfelt thanks to all concerned.

A very grateful, retired CBA officer and CBHS member.

1911_CBHS Skyscraper Banner-07

Suggested Articles

  • Older adults using fitness gadgets

    Top Fitness Trends of 2020

    We put our ears to the ground and asked the pros what top health and fitness trends we can expect to see in 2020.
    • Fitness
    21 January 2020
  • A tropical smoothie

    Treat yourself to a tropical smoothie

    Keep up your good intentions as January draws to a close and stay off the high fat, processed snacks. Treat yourself to this delicious tropical smoothie instead.
    • Nutrition
    21 January 2020
  • A person checking weight Loss

    Four simple rules to lose weight

    Dieting but not losing weight? You may have been given bad advice. Try following these four simple food rules to speed up your weight loss efforts.
    • Wellbeing
    16 January 2020
  • Face mask

    Should I be worried about smoke haze?

    Australia’s bush fire crisis has devastated many towns and rural communities. Cities not directly affected have been blanketed in smoke, but how hazardous is it?
    • Wellbeing
    16 January 2020

What Our Members Think

I joined as a CBHS member in 1978. Through many health events and challenges CBHS has always been there for me and my family. Their exceptional service over this time has always been appreciated.

- Jenny J

What Our Members Think

I've not long joined CBHS from another fund, but so far I've been impressed by the super helpful and friendly staff, the higher claim limits and rebates at a very competitive premium, and how easy it is to lodge manual claims through the app. Thanks CBHS - you've won me over! 😃

- Jessica B

What Our Members Think

What I love about CBHS is their customer service - friendly staff and always ready to help and email you the information you ask about. Keep up the great work!!!

- Linda S

What Our Members Think

I love CBHS as its so so easy to lodge a claim and whenever i need a question answered friendly consultant is one phone call away. The phone back option instead of waiting is brilliant!

- Rachel N

What Our Members Think

I have been with CBHS since I began at CBA 15 years ago...Now I have three beautiful children, one who has a disability. Our top extras cover has been really essential for his early intervention. I do love the ease of claiming online.

- Annette E

What Our Members Think

I am relatively new to CBHS and am loving it already. I worked for a CBA subsidiary a long time ago but was still eligible to join. So much better that the for-profit funds - our premium is only a little more and we pay a lower co-contribution and get great benefits. I am loving the massage rebate for my partner and gym rebate for me!

- David G

What Our Members Think

I'm extremely happy with CBHS! I have been a customer for about six years. I think the price is reasonable. And i would refer you to my family and friends any day. Thank you CBHS!!!

- Karen W

What Our Members Think

Love CBHS as I never have to doubt that they've got my back when I need it. Been through other insurers who have limited options or limits, yet cost the same or more.

- Mark F

Prev
Next