A Legacy of Research in Don’s Memory

“Cancer shatters your whole life forever. Not a minute goes by that I don’t think about him…”  Kathy James. 

In 2006, Don James was a fit and healthy, young-at-heart dad to Sophie and husband to Kathy.  

“Don had a melanoma removed from his back in 1988. The surgeon was very happy with the surgery and felt it got it all. Don returned annually for a check-up, however, he skipped the year prior to his death, which we now know could have saved him.”

Kathy learned that the melanoma on his back spread to his brain and metastasised. 

“It was just us three – Don, Sophie and I were very close. Don was the centre of our universe. He was the primary carer for 11-year-old Sophie. He worked from home so he would drop and pick up Sophie from school every day and later pick me up from the bus stop after work every day.  

“But one day he didn’t turn up. 

“I called home and when no-one answered – I knew something was terribly wrong.”

Sophie – now aged 22 years – takes up the story.  

“Dad picked me up from school that day but straight away I knew something was not right with him.  

“He wasn’t talking to me and wouldn’t answer any of my questions. We got home and I became increasingly worried and finally convinced him to drive to the hospital.  

“We got in the car but we didn’t get far. He just stopped the car.  He wasn’t able to drive anymore, so I called an ambulance,” said Sophie recalling that awful day.  

CT scans revealed Don had a malignant brain tumour on his frontal lobe. He was gone within 3 months. 

“Since Don’s death, we’ve also lost Don’s best friend and business partner who was also Sophie’s Godfather, to cancer. To watch the ones you love pass away is a terrible thing.  

“I am always so pleased when I hear about new treatments and better diagnoses for Melanoma.”

Kathy has included a gift in her Will to cancer research. She hopes no one else ever has to go through what she and Sophie went through when they lost the person who was the centre of their universe.

Australian Cancer Research Foundation thanks Kathy and Sophie for their support. Thanks to the generosity of our donors, we’ve been able to Back Brilliant melanoma research, such as the ACRF Australian Centre for Excellence in Melanoma Imaging and Diagnosis. If you’re interested in leaving a legacy of cancer research by leaving a gift in your Will to ACRF, find out more here.