More than a decade ago, Ian Davison, (48), was told he would not see another Christmas after the melanoma he had been living with for six years spread to his brain, however thanks to a new immunotherapy drug he defied doctors expectations and made a full recovery.
This October Ian will have his very last follow up appointment after more than 15 years of surgery, cancer treatment and hospital appointments. To mark the occasion, he decided to take on the iconic London Marathon to thank Macmillan for supporting him and his family throughout their ordeal.
Ian said: “As of October 2021, I will be 10 years post brain surgery. My last appointment ever will be in October – the same month I will run the London Marathon. It’s amazing. You look at life differently when you’ve had such a challenge. It’s quite rare to come back from having melanoma in the brain. A lot of people get life extension, but they’re not cured. I have been cured. From what I understand, there are very few people living who have had melanoma in the brain.”
Ian was first diagnosed with cancer in 2006 just after his daughter Amelia was born. What followed was six years of surgery, treatment and hospital appointments as the cancer was removed only to then return in a different part of his body. It spread to his lung, lymph nodes and small intestine before it was detected in his brain.
“At that point I was basically told to get my house in order, that I wouldn’t be here by Christmas. That was a real low point, but I got my head into gear. I just thought there are people who are in a worse position than me. I’m still here, I’m going to fight. It was challenging. It was an emotional rollercoaster but I managed to stay positive.”
Ian was asked if he’d like to test a new immunotherapy drug.
He said: “At that point my prognosis was just to hope for the best, so I thought what have I got to lose. I had my last dose in August 2011. I noticed bumps that had appeared on my body, in my chest, leg and back disappeared. The doctors said my response to the drug was remarkable.”
Throughout his surgeries and treatment, Ian continued running five or six miles each week. He did his first half marathon in 2011 between surgeries.
“Without running, I honestly don’t think I would be here. It helped me emotionally, to stay positive. I did a lot of research into positive mental attitude. I knew I couldn’t change the science but I could give myself a better chance of surviving. You can’t block the illness out of your mind. Even now, every day something will make me think about it. But when I’m running, I often think every step is a kick to cancer.”
Now, he wants to use his biggest running challenge to date to give something back to the charity that helped him to navigate the practical and emotional challenges of living with a lifechanging illness.
“Macmillan provided me with some great help and advice, during the toughest period of my illness. The Macmillan nurse was amazing. She went through all the fundamentals, but one of the biggest things she did was tell us about critical illness insurance. It meant we could pay off our mortgage which made a huge difference. That money at the time was amazing, because when you’re ill the last thing you need is money troubles. They also helped us with explaining cancer to our daughter Amelia. Being told you have cancer really is like being hit by a cannonball. That’s why I want to run the marathon for Macmillan, to help other people.”