Lived experience drives Board members to make a difference

The Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials Board of Directors is made up of passionate volunteers, each of whom brings a unique perspective and skillset that allows our organisation to enable practice-changing research.

There are many reasons why our Board members took on the significant responsibility, from working in the field to having a family member undergo skin cancer treatment. But for Paul White and Mary Tsouvalakis, it was a lived experience with cancer that inspired them.

Ensuring the patient perspective is heard

Paul, Company Secretary and Patient Advocate, was just 18 when he had his first melanoma biopsy. Since then, he’s had over 30 moles surgically removed from his body.

“When I was first diagnosed with stage II melanoma, there was a prevailing attitude of ‘better safe than sorry’. This meant any suspicious mole was removed, along with large amounts of surrounding tissue if it was confirmed to be malignant,” Paul said.

The many scars on Paul’s body are a reminder of this approach, which has become more nuanced over recent years, thanks to clinical trials such as the IMAGE and MelMarT trials. 

“We’re truly entering an exciting age for melanoma and skin cancer research, and I’m so fortunate to see the latest advances through my work with MASC Trials.”

“As a MASC Trials patient advocate, I feel it’s critical for our trial outcomes and governance to be optimised with the patient experience in mind,” he said.

Supporting life changing research

Mary, a lawyer with the Victorian Department of Health, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease when she was 16 and was not in remission until seven years later. She has also experienced basal cell carcinomas at 40 and 45 years of age.

“Medical research is the reason that people such as myself have the good fortune to be alive, so I’m incredibly privileged to be able to offer my legal expertise to the Board,” Mary said.

“I hope that, in some small way, I’m able to give back and pay it forward. Through my work with MASC Trials I want to facilitate research through fundraising and other means that can create better outcomes for others.”

“Over the years, I have watched many people lose their cancer battles that would have given everything for more time to do the things they loved. Each day is truly a gift and I intend to use that gift to support the Melanoma and Skin Cancer Trials team and their life changing research,” she said.

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