Robert and I have known each other for 30 years and were married in 2000 in St. Magnus Cathedral Kirkwall Orkney.
After leaving boarding school Robert started work as a management trainee at a large international advertising agency based in the West End. After a few years working in the corporate world he decided this was not for him as he has a strongly independent nature. He tried various lines of development and after a trip to America in the late 70’s opened a series of bike rental outlets even being sponsored at one time by Coca Cola.
Although this venture proved quite successful he decided retail was not for him but he was in possession of 3 retail properties which he was able to dispose of profitably. This made him realise that property might well suit his temperament and negotiating skills. This lead to a small but successful property deal in Parsons Green which was then an up and coming area of London. This gave him the incentive to continue with buying and developing property and over the next 25 years he built up a portfolio of rental properties taking risks that might well have frightened others. These properties are based in the Clapham area of London and rented to young professionals. Periodically these properties are refurbished and updated to keep up with the changing styles of living. All this was after surviving the Lloyds of London debacle of which he was an underwriting name losing a great deal of money, but he dusted himself off and got going again.
A number of adventurous holidays ensued over the last 15 years to South Africa & Nambia driving from Cape Town to the Etosha pan not far from the Angolan border an area of outstanding wildlife. It was rare to see more than 2 or 3 cars on the dirt roads during the day. Later we made trips to Australia & New Zealand visiting many iconic sites including Ayers Rock. Whilst in Queenstown NZ I encouraged Robert to do a tandem paraglide from a mountain above the lake which he greatly enjoyed. It reminded him of when he had a PPL & flew light aircraft, making trips to Le Touquet & other continental airfields. We have also enjoyed many & varied Scottish & European trips together.
Around 2013 Robert noticed a small dark red spot on the side of his knee. Over a period of 3/4 years this did not go away and was not referred. He was eventually seen in 2016 by Professor Powell at the Nuffield and a biopsy confirmed that this seemingly harmless small red spot was indeed serious being diagnosed as a malignant melanoma.
Several operations followed almost immediately with removal of all lymph nodes in the right groin and a follow up PET scan seemed to suggest all was clear. A sigh of relief and life hopefully would return to normal. Unfortunately other lesions started to develop on the right thigh whilst a further PET scan showed various hotspots. After removing one or two further lesions Professor Powell said that it had reached the stage where he needed to pass Robert on to Dr.Ajaz, an experienced and proactive melanoma oncologist.
We had already arranged a further visit to South Africa but Dr. Ajaz advised cancellation as immediate treatment was required. Various treatment options were outlined. The first to be undertaken was immunology treatment a series of IV infusions – however instead of attacking the melanoma lesions it made straight for the liver requiring immediate cessation of the treatment and a 4 week course of steroids to restore his liver function. Fortunately this was slowly brought back to a more normal state. The next treatment was a course of Radiotherapy to activate the immune system and was followed by a course of Tvec injections undertaken directly by Dr.Ajaz over period of some 12/14 weeks. This treatment injected directly into the 30 or so lesions on Robert’s thigh started to put the melanoma in retreat and many of them receded and flattened out.
Another PET scan was undertaken and Dr. Ajaz decided to hold back on further treatment as there appeared to be substantive improvements and said he would await a further PET in a couple of months to assess progress.
We are deeply grateful to Dr.Ajaz for his dedicated approach to dealing with Robert’s melanoma especially since two or three years ago this kind of treatment was not available and he has been in the forefront of both research and professional input.