Market Deeping dad who beat deadly skin cancer has final scan at Addenbrookes Hospital after 15-year battle and runs London Marathon for Macmillan
While most of us worked our way through another humdrum Wednesday, Ian Davison quietly raised a glass to mark a huge personal milestone.
On Wednesday, he made the now familiar trip from his Market Deeping home to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for what he hopes will be the final time.
It will close a long and traumatic chapter after 15 years of cancer treatment.
Following a decade-and-a-half of setbacks, battles and daily anxiety, grappling with a disease which at times looked set to kill him, Ian, 48, attended his final follow-up appointment.
Now life can officially begin afresh.
“It will be low-key, you don’t want to have a big party, but I will definitely have a celebration with my family," Ian said.
“Last year they said ‘if you want we will do one final scan in 2021 and from then you are fixed’.
“That will be 10 years on from having the immune therapy and 11 years on from brain surgery.
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m fixed.”
Ian was first diagnosed with stage four melanoma in 2006, a particularly aggressive skin cancer, soon after his daughter Amelia was born.
Six years of surgery, treatment and hospital appointments followed as the cancer was removed, only then to return elsewhere.
It spread to his lung, lymph nodes and small intestine.
But when scans revealed the cancer had reached his brain, Ian was left to field a stark prognosis.
“If you get a melanoma in the brain your chances of survival are so slim you don’t even appear on the graph,” Ian said.
“I have always been a positive person, but obviously with some of the experiences I had to pick myself up off the ground.
“I remember distinctly when I was told you're probably not going to be here by Christmas.
“That really brings everything into perspective.
“It took me a couple of days to get my head around that, but then I woke up one day and thought ‘you’re still here, you’re going to fight'.
“And that’s how I dealt with it.
“I’m very visual in my thinking. I could picture what it was going to look like to win.”
That Ian is here today, able to recall his incredible story is in part testimony to the power of positive thought.
He has given talks retelling his inspirational story and helped strengthen others facing odds stacked heavily against them.
“Before I was ill I would say it was just a load of rubbish that your mind can change outcomes in your life," Ian said.
“But it’s incredible how powerful your mind is. It makes such a difference.
“Somehow after every setback I managed to get my head into gear and tell myself ‘I’m going to carry on, I’m going to fight this all the way’.
“If your mindset is wrong it’s game over - it will drag you down and beat you anyway.
"However you do it, you must find yourself something to focus on.”
As well as mental resilience, science also had the major say in his remarkable physical recovery.
Trying what seemed a last roll of the dice, Ian underwent brain surgery in 201o and was then invited to try a new immunotherapy drug.
“I was offered to join the last trials of it and had four doses, two weeks apart,” he explained.
“I just had an amazing reaction to it.
“My melanoma was quite odd in that it jumped around. I got lumps on my right leg, on my back, my neck and chest.
“But all of that started to reduce within weeks of having the drug.
“None of us can prove that the drug worked, but if you look at where my medical history was going, it must have. You don’t get rid of melanoma easily.”
At the time, cure from stage 4 melanoma was very rare, but survival rates have since improved thanks to new treatments, including immunotherapy.
In 2012 he had an operation to remove part of his small intestine after it returned there once again.
But this latest trip to the operating theatre would be his last.
Belief that the cancer was in retreat, a tentative hope at first, gradually grew.
Earlier this month he marked 10 years clear of cancer in grand fashion by running the London Marathon, stopping the clock in 4hr 22min.
The feat helped him fulfil an ambition but also raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support to thank the charity for their help in his recovery.
“It was absolutely amazing - one of the best experiences of my life," said Ian, a sales manager in the automotive industry.
“It is something I had wanted to do for a long time, and with everything I've been through it was very emotional when I crossed the line."
Running was another weapon in Ian’s armoury against melanoma.
He hit the road just three-and-a-half weeks after lung surgery and completed his first half-marathon in 2011, the year after brain surgery.
“It helped me an awful lot in getting me through the illness," he explained.
“I don’t think I would be alive without it - the psychological benefits are incredible.”
To donate to Ian’s marathon fundraiser, click here.