“I WOULD have had to sell our house to pay for it and that would have left my wife and boys with nothing. My family is my life and as a provider I couldn’t bear the thought that I would leave them with no financial security after trying a drug that might not even work for me.
“Not only would their husband and father no longer be there, but they would also be left in financial hardship. I thought dealing with cancer was tough, but the implications of this decision was crippling.”
“I said to Ben, is there anything else out there we can try and that was when he suggested another immunotherapy drug called Opdivo. It only had a 20 per cent success rate but I was excited to give it a go because I really believe in the concept of immunotherapy.”
If ever there is such a thing as luck in a situation like this, it was shining down on the couple once again because a medical trial for Opdivo was about to be undertaken.
A couple of years earlier, Mark’s blood had been sent overseas to Belgium to be profiled and was deemed compatible with immunotherapy, now the opportunity to follow this course of treatment had begun.
In just two short weeks Mark felt an improvement and eight weeks later scans had shown the tumor had decreased by 70 per cent.
“Ben was so excited and so were we, only 15 per cent of lung cancer sufferers make it to five years and that looks achievable for me now.”
Both Mark and Korryne are eternally grateful to the medical community and despite everything, they do consider themselves lucky.
“There have been periods in Mark’s health when the shit has really hit the fan and we have been saved by the bell, but it is incredible what the doctors and scientists can do and miracles can happen,” Korryne said.
Opdivo has recently been placed on the pharmaceutical benefits scheme which is a huge relief for the couple.
“It means Mark can stay on it once the trial ends which helps take some of the worry away for us,” Korryne said.
And while cancer is an individual journey and what works for someone doesn’t necessarily work for someone else, Mark has found changing his diet, meditation and mindfulness to be a big help.
“I have found the best way for me to deal with this is to surrender myself and fight with a combination of calmness, stillness and of course medical intervention.”