A cancer diagnosis is always distressing, but when you’re just 24 (at the time of diagnosis) and in the prime of your life, being told you have metastatic melanoma would come as even more of a shock.
For Bulimba’s Chris Chapman, that’s exactly what has led him to not only make major changes in his life but give back to the hospital that’s helping heal him, the PA Hospital.
Chris was working in commercial real estate in April of last year when he noticed what he thought was a wart on his leg which he got checked by his GP and learned was a particularly aggressive melanoma which had spread to one of his lymph nodes.
Outside of his surgery to remove the melanoma all of Chris’ treatment has been at the PA Hospital including his current involvement in an immunotherapy trial at the Clinical Research Facility on the Hospital campus.
The care Chris received at the PA is partly behind his decision to take on a half marathon at the Gold Coast Marathon on 2 July, while still receiving treatment for his cancer which is scheduled to be completed in at the end of the same month.
Chris Chapman will run a half marathon at the Gold Coast marathon while still undergoing treatment for cancer.
“It was like wart on my leg on my ankle, it was just a funny lump that had been there for 6-8 weeks, I thought it would go away and my girlfriend, who funnily enough now works as a nurse in oncology, at the time said you should get that checked out it could be a nodule melanoma,” Chris said.
“I went to the GP he scraped a bit of it off and did a biopsy of it and said it’d likely be nothing then he came back a few days later and said it was an aggressive melanoma and needed to be removed almost immediately.
“Two weeks later I got it removed entirely and got the lymph node removed, they took a biopsy of that and it came back as saying it still had a few microscopic cells left in it so we caught at the right time.”
“It had spread to a lymph node just up in my groin, I’m on an immunotherapy trial up in the CRF which is going well at the moment so that is great news.”
Chris could’ve had standard immunotherapy treatment but when offered the chance to be a part of a clinical trial he couldn’t say no.
“I quite like the idea that when you take part in a clinical trial as a patient, you’re committing to progressing the science into melanomas and other forms of cancer and potentially helping other in beating these diseases,” he said.
The shock of his diagnosis and ensuing treatment at such a young age has prompted Chris to not only enact a career change by going to university to become a teacher but take on the challenge of a half marathon with the hope of raising some vital funds to help others. Another reason why I’m keen to do this is I have been inspired by my aforementioned (previous) Girlfriend, who at the age of just 19 had a brain haemorrage. She received all of her treatment at the PA Gamma Knife and ran the Gold Coast Half Marathon (COVID edition) last year. By doing that, it inspired me to set one of my goals for 2022 to run this year’s half marathon.
“In terms of the marathon I’ve never done anything like it before, I’m pretty keen to sink my teeth in I’ve been training for it, just getting the kilometres into my legs really.
“I’m currently doing about 9ks a week and just increasing it week on week, all the while managing my treatments.
“There’s two aspects to it, everyone at PA, like the nurses up in the CRF in particular have just been awesome, including Becky, my Clinical Research Nurse who looks after all my bookings for appointments, CT scans and just ensuring I’m taking the right medication on the right days, they all been a fantastic support system for me. The other aspect is just more a personal level of things and wanting to challenge myself.
“I liked the idea of running a half marathon. I think it would be a great achievement to say I ran a half marathon while undergoing cancer treatment.”
You can support Chris to complete the half marathon and raise vital funds here.