Australian Story: Dec 4

ABC goes behind the scenes with Prof. Richard Scolyer and his colleagues as they race against the clock to cure his own brain cancer.

An Australian Story season final profiles pathologist Professor Richard Scolyer as he becomes a guinea pig in trials to cure his own brain cancer.

It is risky and untested treatment. It could shorten his life or make it a whole lot worse. But it’s a risk Professor Richard Scolyer is willing to take, desperate to try and save his own life.

As the world’s top melanoma pathologist, Richard is an expert in diagnosing skin cancers, and helped revolutionise immunotherapy treatment for advanced melanoma patients, removing the death sentence so many once faced.

But now the acclaimed doctor is facing his own mortality.

A seizure six months ago led to a diagnosis of an incurable brain cancer. The prognosis averages 12-18 months.

Richard had a choice, prepare for the worst or put his hand up to be patient zero as his colleagues design a high stakes experiment to fight his brain tumour, using the very treatment they have pioneered for melanoma.

“Some of my close colleagues were saying ‘don’t be Richard’s medical oncologist, be his friend’. And I’m thinking stuff that, I’m not using 15 years of my bloody hard work, like hard, long hours of work not to apply it to my friend. What are the rules here?” medical oncologist Professor Georgina Long says.

“All the results we have so far are positive. I have to be honest, I am hoping that we could cure him. I know it’s unlikely, I’m a realist, but I also know that these drugs are phenomenal,” cancer researcher Professor Helen Rizos says.

Australian Story goes behind the scenes with Richard and his colleagues as they race against the clock to cure the incurable. While the team hope for a medical miracle, the research they are conducting on Richard will hopefully trigger drug trials and a lasting legacy for future patients.

“I’m more than happy to be the guinea pig to, to do this,” says Richard. “In fact, I see it as an opportunity to hopefully make my life better and blow open that brain cancer field to transform it for all brain cancer patients.”

8pm Monday on ABC.

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