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Stars don’t shine any brighter than Gina Savage.
Inspirational. Powerful. Passionate.
Melanoma patient. Research advocate, Six Hour Project founder and fundraiser, educator and ultimately – life saver.
Awesome human being – that’s probably the best way to describe Gina.
She has fought stage four melanoma since her devasting diagnosis five years ago, aged just 22.
She is currently waging another battle in the fight of her life. The fight for her life.
Gina is undertaking yet another immunotherapy trial – road testing the latest innovative, cutting edge by-product of cancer research initiatives designed to try an end a wretched melanoma battle that has seen her undergo 12 major surgeries in the last five years.
The last one was Gina’s biggest yet.
“We’re talking a huge slit down my tummy to remove two separate portions of my bowel and four other abdominal tumours,” she said.
“Last year, I was granted access to double cancer treatments under compassionate grounds. Despite it all, the latest surgery proved that even though I’d begged whatever higher power exists more times than I can count for this to be it, the drugs I was on weren’t working for me.
“That made four unsuccessful drugs. I then ended up back in hospital shortly after with immunotherapy related complications that made me sicker than I’ve ever been in my life. I was a genuine shell of a human. Emotionally and physically, I was beat. I’m now on a new treatment.
“Had I been diagnosed just years prior - it is highly unlikely I’d be alive today. Whilst I’m still yet to find my perfect liquid gold, the drugs I have had access to in the past few years has turned a cancer that at one stage had me with six months to live, into three years and counting. THAT is the undeniable power of research.
“So, that is my why for supporting cancer research. Because we need to invest more money into medical research that will go on to save lives and provide people more time with their loved ones. I want everyone who is diagnosed with melanoma to have access to drugs that will give them more time and, ultimately, save their life.”
Gina’s hope, optimism and steely determination talk to her exceptional character. They are also synonymous with the work of researchers.
“I wouldn’t wish this journey on my worst enemy,” Gina said.
“My family is the core and centre of my strength and positivity in this whole thing. I owe them the world for that. I would not have been able to get through what I had without the wonderful people they are.
“I think that was the hardest part – having to look across the room and see the look on my parents’ face. It’s tough because there’s nothing you can do. You can’t take that pain away from them.
“I actually had the privilege of going through Professor Gabrielli’s lab at Mater Research and the things he’s doing for patients in my position is just incredible. My hope for the future of research is that they’re able to get to a point where it isn’t causing as much harm and heartbreak that it currently is. To be able to live with their disease, as opposed to dying with their disease.
“My hope for my family is that we can look back and say, ‘we did that’. Instead of looking at each other being sad and crying sad tears, we can cry happy tears.”