It all started back in 2010. Nigel Deacon was diagnosed with ocular melanoma, a rare form of eye cancer.
“It has nothing to do with sun exposure, [a] very small number of Canadians, maybe 200 a year are diagnosed with it,” says Deacon.
Unfortunately for Deacon, his tumour was resistant to most conventional forms of treatment.
“For half of the people diagnosed, the treatment of the eye tumour is very successful and they have no further issues of any kind but half of the people, the cancer metastasizes,” says Deacon.
“Unfortunately I ended up in the wrong group and it metastasized in 2012.”
Through several experimental procedures, Deacon’s cancer reached a treatable level. Now apart from occasional treatments to keep the disease in check, Deacon has the free time to purse his passion of running.
“Running’s been part of my life for a long time. It just took on more significance,” says Deacon. “It was something that I could do when other things were going wrong.”
This Saturday, Deacon will run the length of a marathon as part of the Save Your Skin Foundation’s Move for Melanoma fundraiser.
“We have 22 teams in total from all across Canada with 94 participants and so far we’ve had 409 donations,” says Save Your Skin founder Kathleen Barnard, a melanoma survivor herself. “People have sure stepped up to the plate and we’re very proud of Nigel and all the other survivors and caregivers that been participating.”
For Deacon, who also runs an ocular melanoma support group, the biggest thing is letting patients know they’re not alone and have options for treatment.
“Don’t give up hope, keep trying,” says Deacon. “Get into clinical trials if you can find them, stay alive,” he adds.