Last Christmas, Carl Horrobin watched his daughter Alana open up her presents thinking he might never get to experience this moment ever again. At 39 years of age, he had been diagnosed with skin cancer and the disease had spread. The prognosis he was facing was grim.
Some time back, Carl noticed a freckle on his elbow. It turned into a mole, but his GP assured him it was harmless. One year later, after seeing a specialist, he was given the terrible news. The biopsy had confirmed it –melanoma, a common but dangerous form of malignancy.
Horrobin had to have surgery and a reconstruction of his elbow, as well as the removal of some lymph nodes from his armpit. He was hoping this would be the last of the disease. Unfortunately, his troubles were only beginning.
Six months later, following a routine scan, doctors found another cancerous lump. It had returned. Not long after that came to an even bigger shock, the melanoma had spread to his lungs, it was now in stage four. In cases like these, survival rates plummet to about 15 or 20 percent.
Carl was fortunate enough to be offered immunotherapy treatment at Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, the first specialized facility in the UK to launch such a service. The treatment was described as a “game changer”, but it does not work for everyone and can have some impactful side effects.
At first, he was hit with orbital myositis – an inflammation of the muscles around and behind the eyes. Then came aching joints, which proved to be the start of rheumatoid arthritis.
Day by day, Carl was eventually getting better, and doctors were impressed with his results. Since leaving the hospital, scans have shown no trace of cancer.
In just a few months, he went from hoping to see little Alana start school in September, to maybe seeing her grow up and finish her education.