Call to fund cancer trials

(L-R) Dennis Smith with wife Bronwyn

By Jessica Micallef

Riddells Creek resident Dennis Smith is hoping something good can come out of his cancer.

Mr Smith, 65, was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, a type of skin cancer, in 2016 after seeking advice on what he thought was a pimple.

After he underwent surgery to prevent the cancer from spreading and spent six weeks undergoing radiation therapy, he was told by his doctor that immunotherapy treatment trials were available for his type of cancer.

However, the trials were full at the time. Mr Smith waited several months for a place to be available but in that time his condition deteriorated and the cancer spread throughout his body.

“We waited for a little while and then it just went nuts,” Mr Smith said.

Earlier this year Mr Smith said his doctor recommended he self-fund the immunotherapy treatment.

The treatment is not covered by the federal government’s PBS and costs $6005 per treatment. Mr Smith requires treatment every three weeks. Three months after starting the treatment, scans showed Mr Smith’s cancer has significantly decreased.

He is continuing to self-fund his treatment and has been encouraged by colleagues to set up a GoFundMe Page to help with the cost. But Mr Smith also wants the page to raise awareness about his type of cancer and the treatment available.

“I’d like people to … perhaps see that for this type of cancer there is perhaps some options,” Mr Smith said. “We’d like to see … the trials funded or put on the PBS.

“We need all the publicity we can get to
make people aware this treatment is available.”