A thyroid doctor in New York City is hoping to cure his own cancer by injecting himself with a drug to combat the disease.
Mike McDonald, the 41-year-old chief executive officer of an electronic health system, is currently battling cancer, but he’s been reluctant to take on the cancer drugs that are being developed.
“I have a very hard time seeing the positives in any drug,” McDonald told Al Jazeera.
“I’ve been in this field for 15 years.
I’ve never been able to convince myself that I have something to prove.”
He was diagnosed with melanoma and lymphoma in 2013 and has undergone multiple operations to remove the cancerous cells from his body.
McDonald has also been given a bone marrow transplant in 2016, but that was unsuccessful.
McDonald, a family man, said he is hopeful that his treatment will be successful.
“If you look at the statistics, people have been getting treated for 15-20 years with chemo, and that is about as long as they’ve been alive,” he said.
“So I’m hopeful that the drugs will work, and I’m confident that if they work, we’ll see a dramatic decrease in my cancer.”
But cancer is not the only cause for concern.
McDonald said that his own diagnosis with the cancer drug, azathioprine, has been the catalyst for his search for a cure.
“In my mind, it was just a question of being a good, clean, happy, strong person, and my doctor told me it was cancer.
I’m just not good enough for cancer,” he told Aljeune.”
The more I was seeing my doctor, the more I realised that I wasn’t going to be cured.”‘
It was a terrible feeling’Milder forms of melanoma are rare.
In the United States, they occur in between 2.5 and 6.5 per cent of the population.
They are typically caused by mutations that occur in the DNA of certain genes, and can lead to the development of the malignant cells.
In the US, about one in 10,000 people will develop cancer, according to the World Health Organization.
But as the number of melanomas is growing, so too are the risks to health, said Dr Robert Folland, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.
“We know that the risk of melanocytic melanoma is very, very low,” he explained.
“It’s a very small risk.”
However, the chance of melanocortin-4 (MC4R) and melanocoronavirus (MCV) infection in the melanoma population is much higher.
The latter two, which are caused by a different gene, are known to trigger cancer.
“What I’m seeing now is people are in much worse shape than they were before,” said Follands’ associate professor of dermatology, Dr Maryna Vyshinsky.
“For me, it’s not the cancer, it is the fact that I am a woman,” McDonald said.
McDonald is not alone.
Many people with the rare disease are waiting to be tested for MCV.
Some doctors are worried about how they will be able to deliver the drugs to patients.
“We’re not really sure how long it’s going to take, how long we can take, and how much the money will be,” said Dr Mark Molloy, director of the department of endocrinology and metabolic therapy at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Molloy said the drug could cost $1,000 to $1.5 million.
“You can imagine how frustrating that would be for a family like mine,” he added.
The doctors hope that by developing a cure, they will not only be able save their lives, but also raise awareness about the disease and help people avoid it in the future.
“It’s just an amazing feeling to think that this drug is going to cure my own cancer,” McDonald wrote on the website of the Melanoma Research Foundation, an organization that seeks to find new treatments.