If you are lucky enough to know or meet 27-year-old Kelsie, you will know of her zeal for life and her passionate can-do attitude. She has a bubbly, caring personality and loves horses and cars. You would never know that she is in the fight of her life, battling melanoma (cancer).
“Diagnosed at just 25, my cancer is fast and aggressive. Many people assume melanoma is always caused by the sun, but it was not in my case,” she said.
“My case is uncommon because I am so young. I’ve had 22 tumours surgically removed so far. Unfortunately, they keep recurring. It’s only advancements in immunotherapy trials and melanoma diagnostic advancements that are keeping me going.”
Mater Research is taking a lead in finding a cure for melanoma, working to develop an immunotherapy treatment that can directly destroy a cancer tumour with minimal side effects for patients.
Mater Research Fellow, Professor Brian Gabrielli’s research focuses on harnessing the body’s own immune system to fight disease.
“Our treatment when used in pre-clinical models is very effective in destroying a lot of melanomas, including melanoma types that have become resistant to current therapies,” Professor Gabrielli said.
“Our lab tests show this therapy works as a short-term treatment to get a tumour under control and elicit an immune response that could
provide ongoing protection, without the toxicity and other side effects of conventional chemotherapy.”
“The next step is for us to take this therapy to clinical trials in melanoma patients, which we hope to do in the near future.”
Professor Gabrielli said being one of the only cancers that can be detected by sight externally on the skin, melanoma starts within the pigment producing melanocytes of the skin. It can then spread anywhere in the body, far beyond the skin, most often to the lung, liver, bones, and brain.
Kelsie’s battle with cancer is far from over. “My only treatment options at the moment are to continue with surgery to remove the tumours as they grow, and to continue immunotherapy treatments, and to look to research for the answer, which for me, I hope will come soon.”
Research really does give cancer patients like Kelsie hope. Hope of new treatments and hope of a future. Every Mater Prize Home ticket goes towards supporting patients like Kelsie.
“I’ve got so much hope in research. I live my life in three months blocks as each time I have another scan, I need to turn to research to see what options are out there to help me survive.”