RON WALKER has never been one to shy from a challenge. But at 72, the former lord mayor of Melbourne was thrown a curveball. A pea-sized lump on his forehead turned out to be a melanoma.
Once removed, and with the lymph nodes showing all clear, his surgeon was optimistic. Within a year tumours blossomed in his lungs, bones and brain. Walker was given a few months to live. In a last-ditch attempt, he travelled to Los Angeles to enrol in a trial of a new drug, Keytruda. Every three weeks, Walker watched drug-laced fluid drain from the drip into his arm. After just four treatments, his tumours began shrinking. A year and a half later, his cancer was nowhere to be seen. Similar stories of survival against the odds are found across the globe, given prominence by celebrity recipients such as former US President Jimmy Carter, who used the drug to great effect in his fight against melanoma.
Keytruda and similar drugs are heralded as game-changers in the cancer community.