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We research, develop and trial the most advanced treatments across all tumour types, pioneering tomorrow’s cancer treatments today. Learn about Alex’s experience at The Royal Marsden Private Care.
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In 2012, lawyer Alex Green, visited his GP after finding an unusual lesion on his chest and was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer. “Tests showed it was localised, so I had it removed and thought that was that,” Alex, now 37, recalls. “I was diagnosed on the Friday and went back to work on the Monday.”
However, 18 months later, Alex found another lump in his neck.
He explains: “Unfortunately for me, it turned out the melanoma had spread into the lymph nodes of my neck and the back of my head. At that point, I was a late stage melanoma patient.”
Alex and his family spent time researching which hospital would offer him the best treatment and care. “The Royal Marsden is a research-led institution which really influenced my decision to be treated here,” says Alex. “My family and I did a lot of research, but the same name kept coming up and, for my type of cancer, the same doctors kept coming up. That name was The Royal Marsden, where those doctors work too.”
Alex was referred to Professor James Larkin at The Royal Marsden and underwent several operations to remove tumours and a course of post-surgery radiotherapy. “I finished radiotherapy by Christmas 2015 and scans at that point showed I was clear – the best Christmas present we could have wished for.”
Alex went back to work in January 2016, and by the summer he felt his life was getting back on track. His second child had just been born and he was feeling positive; however, in March 2017, scans showed the melanoma had appeared in his lungs.
“That was a real blow,” says Alex. “But Professor Larkin and Nikki Hunter, my clinical nurse specialist, were fantastic. They supported me and my family through the initial shock and proposed a new, cutting-edge treatment – immunotherapy. I felt I could really trust their advice and that they and The Royal Marsden would do their best for me.”
The treatment, a combination of two drugs – ipilimumab and nivolumab – had become available for melanoma patients following clinical trials which Professor Larkin and The Royal Marsden had been at the forefront of.
“Around 10 days after my first treatment, I started to suffer side effects and was admitted as an inpatient. It was during this time that it really hit home just how amazing The Royal Marsden is. The highest accolade I can give is that the hospital received my mum’s seal of approval – as a nurse for many years who specialised in cancer, she knows her stuff.”
At Alex’s scans in June 2017, he and his wife Jen were merely hoping that the tumours had not materially grown. But the scan showed there was no trace of cancer anywhere.
“It was amazing,” says Alex. “It had been a difficult few months, and to have no visible cancer after just one treatment was a huge – but very nice – surprise. I think I asked Professor Larkin and Nikki to repeat the results about five times!
“I can’t thank The Royal Marsden, the Charity and all those who work there enough. It really is a special place, full of hope and positivity. I feel so lucky to be looked after there.”