As young father, avid runner, swimmer and all-round fitness enthusiast, Bruno didn’t think of himself as being at high risk for melanoma.
So, when he first noticed that a mole on his back had started to bleed in the shower, he made an appointment to see a doctor but didn’t think too much of it.
“The doctor wasn’t particularly concerned about it either and froze it off with liquid nitrogen. I went back a couple more times for the same treatment, but there was certainly no sense of urgency or worry about it.”
“After the third time I had the mole frozen off, it ended up looking particularly grotesque. Even then I still wrote it off as nothing, but when my 10-and-a-half-year-old son caught a glimpse of it while we were swimming, he became quite worried and encouraged me to get it properly checked out. So, on his insistence, I visited my GP who agreed that it looked bad and booked me in for a biopsy.”
And so began a marathon unlike any other Bruno had ran before.
The starting line
“To be honest, I still wasn’t concerned – in fact, I was more focussed on training for my first ironman which was coming up. I even postponed the biopsy because of the race, that was how confident I was that this was going to turn out to be nothing.”
While receiving the results of the biopsy, Bruno made a passing comment about a lump under his armpit that had been bothering him recently.
“I thought it was just my body reacting to my intense training regime. But as soon as I mentioned the lump, the doctor’s face turned as white as a sheet. From that point everything happened extremely quickly.”
A bad turn
The lump was a tumour that had spread from his back. Diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma, Bruno’s prognosis was not looking good.
“My wife and I didn’t tell our children at first because we figured it would be too much for them. When I finally did tell my them, it was a very emotional moment for us all. My son, understandably, became increasingly worried and asked if I was going to die, which was a heartbreaking thing to hear. Once the initial shock had worn off, my daughter actually became very pragmatic, asking lots of questions and basically becoming my personal little nurse for the duration of my treatment.”
After recovering well from the surgery to remove his tumour in 2019, Bruno was offered the opportunity to receive cutting-edge treatment that had been recently shown through a clinical trial to reduce his risk of recurrence and improve his chances of cure.
“Accepting this treatment was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever had to make, and it turned out to be one of the best. It was made even easier by the fact that the trial had shown how much the treatment would help me.”
Back on track
Much to the relief of his family, Bruno responded well to the treatment and was soon pounding the pavement as he returned to his old training routine.
“It felt fantastic – both physically and mentally – to be back out there, getting active again. Just 7 months into my treatment I even competed in a half-ironman, which was a huge personal achievement for me. As I crossed the finish line, I was overwhelmed with emotions thinking about just how far I’d come from that initial diagnosis and telling my kids that daddy might not survive.”
In July of 2020, Bruno’s response to the treatment had been positive and he was able to stop it. Since then, he’s been able to live a normal life with all his PET scans coming back clear.
“It’s always a nervous time in the household whenever I go in for a test. But we make sure to celebrate every single scan that comes back clear and every little milestone, because we just don’t know what the future will hold.”
“Clinical trials have given me another shot at life, and I don’t intend on wasting it. I’ve even started training for my first full-length ironman which is coming up late next year. It’s going to be tough, but with my family and support team around me, I know I can achieve anything.”