Travelling to participate in clinical trial – Ian’s story

Icon Writer / 16 May, 2024

Having worked outdoors in the Northern Territory all his life, Ian has always been vigilant about having regular skin checks due to being in the sun each day.

“It was normal for me to get an annual skin check and the odd cancer removed,” says Ian.

When Ian had a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) removed from his neck in January 2022, he didn’t think much of it.

Six months later, Ian noticed a lump “the size of a pea” growing on the lower part of his neck.

“I went to the doctor and numerous blood tests didn’t pick anything up. It wasn’t until I was referred to an ear, nose and throat specialist that an internal biopsy was conducted, and it was confirmed to be cancer. A PET scan followed and that found three other cancers inside my neck on my lymph nodes.

“I consider myself lucky that one of the cancers formed a lump, which raised the red flag. Who knows how far the cancer could’ve spread if it went undetected.”

Three weeks after his diagnosis, Ian was booked in for surgery. During those three weeks, the lump on Ian’s neck grew to the size of a golf ball.

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Ian had 20 lymph nodes removed during his eight-hour surgery. Biopsy results from the surgery revealed the cancer had spread to other parts of Ian’s body, including his lungs.

“Thankfully, I had a proactive oncologist who took it upon himself to look deeper into my cancer,” says Ian.

“He told me that my form of cancer was rare and aggressive, and that chemotherapy would be a waste of time.”

When Ian’s oncologist started looking into clinical trial options, he discovered a suitable trial for patients like Ian with high-risk cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (cSCC), called C-POST.

“The Northern Territory is the only state/territory where this trial isn’t run, so my oncologist gave me a list of options and I chose to participate in the trial through Icon Cancer Centre Southport,” says Ian.

“In January 2023 I commenced the trial and since then, I have travelled to the Gold Coast every three weeks for treatment.”

Ian, who has always maintained a positive attitude throughout his cancer journey, says he feels lucky to have access to the clinical trial.

“I’ve worked all my life and everything changed following my cancer diagnosis,” says Ian.

“Of course, it’s been challenging but it has also been a good opportunity for me to stop and smell the roses.

“I don’t mind the travelling at all. I enjoy visiting (the Gold Coast) and spending time in a place that is vibrant and cheery.”

So far Ian has had promising results on the trial, with active treatment scheduled to finish in early 2025.

Ian is already planning a return to work upon finishing the trial.

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