Melissa appears in episode 3 of Super Surgeons, a Channel 4 documentary that follows a group of Royal Marsden patients with advanced or relapsed cancers who are preparing for innovative surgery.
Melissa is a dentist and lives in Surrey with her husband Conrad and daughter Zoe. She was referred to The Royal Marsden in January this year after being under the care of another hospital.
“I had been through so much by the time I got to The Royal Marsden. My symptoms were really debilitating – I had been to the GP as I could not even walk up the stairs due to fatigue. I was taking a few days off every month when I had my period with excessive bleeding. I had been told I had fibroids and they had also detected cancer cells.
Melissa was a uterine leiomyosarcoma patient, under the care of Ms Nobbenhuis.
“After meeting Ms Nobbenhuis for the first time, I thought she was amazing. She told me I needed a full hysterectomy, which was quite difficult to hear, but she explained it so well. I felt like I was in safe hands, and she really put me at ease."
When I was asked about filming for the documentary, I thought it would be one good thing that I could do to help others. I was diagnosed late and thought sharing my story could help other women. I think everyone is busy with work and families, and women in particular give so much more time to others than to themselves.
The first part of Melissa’s operation was completed with a Royal Marsden Charity-funded robot.
“When I had my surgery, the team were really calming. I was looked after so well by the nurses and other staff on Ellis Ward too – they were like family. There was a lovely Scottish nurse called Jade who was amazing, and at one point I met a volunteer called Stacy who came in to play the ukulele on the ward, which was lovely. I told one of the nurses, Umi, that when my 11-year-old daughter grows up, I want her to be just like you.
“I am now 90 per cent recovered from the operation and I’ve returned to work. My treatment has made such a difference to my symptoms, it’s wonderful.”
Find out about how The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity supports the whole patient journey at The Royal Marsden.