Laura May Mcmullan, Christie patient

Laura May Mcmullan was diagnosed with malignant melanoma in 2014. The cancer had already spread into her lymphatic system so she had surgery to remove lymph nodes from her groin.

Before her diagnosis, Laura described herself as a sunbathing addict. But she says she had no knowledge of the dangers of UV rays.

Since Laura was first diagnosed, treatment for melanoma has come a long way. This is thanks to a treatment called immunotherapy.

Immunotherapy helps to train the body’s immune system to recognise and attack specific cancer cells. It also helps to boost immune cells to actually be able to eliminate cancer in the body.

Other cancers can be treated with immunotherapy, not just melanoma. However, most of the developments in immunotherapy were actually pioneered in melanoma.

This means that life expectancy after an advanced melanoma diagnosis has improved a lot over the past 10 years. And more patients can be cured than ever before – which is a huge step forward.

For the past 5 years, Laura has visited The Christie for follow up scans and to get her results. This can be nerve-wracking as once melanoma has spread, it can be unpredictable - and it’s still possible the cancer could return.

But for now, Laura is focused on spending time with her little girl Evie. It’s her priority to ensure that Evie knows how to protect herself from the sun – so she can enjoy it safely.

“I was diagnosed in 2014 with malignant melanoma and had major surgery to remove my lymph nodes – so for the last 5 years I’ve in and out of hospital, had numerous scans and biopsies – all to make sure the cancer hasn’t come back.
“I don’t think people realise how dangerous melanoma can be. It starts with a mole, or in my case it was a little red spot on the back of my leg and within 6 months that had spread to the lymph nodes in my groin.
“But what’s changed in the last 5 years is nothing short of a revolution in treatment.”

- Laura, Christie patient

February 2020