Institute of Genetics and Cancer

Shining a Light on Cancer – Living with Melanoma

On 4 February, scientists, staff and students from across the Institute and wider University were fortunate enough to hear first-hand from one of our breast cancer researchers who has been living with Melanoma for the last 19 months: February 2021

We were very keen to make an extra effort to mark World Cancer Day this year as the COVID-19 Pandemic has such an impact on everyone and everything – including affecting cancer research and patient diagnosis and treatments.

This event began with Professor Liz Patton providing a brief overview of Melanoma, focusing on the ways it can affect people such as Andy and then described her research and how this is relates to the drugs that are working for Andy. Liz is an MRC Investigator at the MRC Human Genetics Unit, within the MRC IGMM. Her research group uses chemical genetic approaches in zebrafish to investigate gene-drug interactions in melanocyte development and in melanoma.

Dr Andy Sims is one of our cancer researchers and he’s a stage IV melanoma patient. Andy described the patient journey he is on, from going to his GP about a mole on his collarbone to discovering that he had tumours in his brain - with the insights of being a breast cancer researcher. He candidly described the symptoms that he first became aware of, how he responded, the process of diagnosis and the various decisions he has had to make about treatments and how he and his family are learning to live with Melanoma.

Andy has been utterly remarkable in the ways that he is finding to live with Melanoma but also in his determination to make a positive difference. We are so grateful that Andy chose to share his personal story publicly – Andy is an inspiration to us all.

Words like bravery and heroism are bandied about a lot in respect to cancer patients but, boy, are they justified here. That was searingly honest and so valuable for all of us to hear.

Thanks Andy for a really candid, hard-hitting talk. Thanks Liz - excellent preface about the importance of basic science towards translation.

Liz, you spoke with such empathy for the patients your research aims to help, and your work was so clearly explained and perfectly pitched to the mix of our 200+ researchers and support staff who’d tuned in. Andy, it’s hard to find the words to thank you enough for sharing this. It can’t have been easy to tell your story, but you’ve inspired us all in doing so.

What an amazingly powerful piece of science communication, that really gets across the value of what we do and why.

Andy Sims twitter graphic

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