Melanoma from a patient perspective

“The key for any patient is that they can seek alternatives if they are not getting the support they need, the most important thing for any patient – whether Melanoma or any other cancer – is trust.” Imogen Cheese

Imogen Cheese is a melanoma patient and patient advocate, diagnosed with stage 2c melanoma in 2013. Whilst Imogen is not local to Oxford, she chose to transfer her care to the Churchill hospital having felt let down by her local hospital both before and after diagnosis.

Diagnosis meant adapting her life to that of a cancer patient, for Imogen this included blogging about her experiences and raising awareness of melanoma. She now spends a considerable amount of her time organising the National Melanoma Patient Conference, with support from Mark Middleton and Oliver Cassell. Of her work Imogen says “It is incredibly important that patients are given all the information about their disease, the treatments, and how it might impact their lives so they can make informed choices and be involved in all decision processes”.

Once referred to OUH Foundation Trust, Imogen was offered access to novel treatment options through Oxford’s Early Phase Clinical Trials Unit, lead by Prof. Middleton. The trials unit has a portfolio of clinical trials that focuses on translating a wide array of Oxford-based scientific advances into improvements in cancer patient care. In the majority of cases this involves developing new personalized treatments, targeting specific treatments to patients who are most likely to respond. During this process, it was decided given the molecular make up of her cancer, that Imogen would be best served by a standard treatment regime that resulted in her current remission.

Whilst on the Trials Unit, Imogen was treated by various members of the Oxford team including nurses Nikki Hawyard and Ma Hong as well as Val Macauley and Nick Coupe. Her experiences left her feeling confident in her care, stating “I trust the team who have looked after me at Oxford implicitly. The team are approachable and friendly and take the time to explain things in layman terms in a way that helped me gain a better understanding of the complexities ahead.”

Hear more about Imogen’s experiences in her interview with Rosemary Macklam:

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