When it comes to life, David Dunnington is unstoppable. He refused to quit cancer treatment, until he found one that worked. He had to have part of his leg amputated because of radiation damage during treatment, but that hasn’t stopped him from cycling, playing tennis or participating in anything else he enjoys.
David was diagnosed with melanoma in 2012. It started with a lesion on the bottom of his foot, unrelated to sun exposure. He had several surgeries, drug therapies, and radiation but nothing worked. He was stage 4 and losing hope.
“I didn’t know what else to do, to tell you the truth” David said. But then, he found out about an immunotherapy clinical trial at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Fred Hutch’s treatment partner. Three months later his tumors had shrunk in half. “My wife and I went outside and hugged and said maybe, maybe we found something that’s going to work this time,” he said.
Today David’s cancer is completely gone and he says he’s forever grateful to the scientists at Fred Hutch and the doctors at SCCA who enrolled him in the trial.
“If it wasn’t for the research at Fred Hutch and new drugs, I just wouldn’t have had a chance,” said David. “I would be dead, frankly.”
So, when his friend Dr. Jerry Radich, who he met on the tennis court and is a scientist at Fred Hutch, asked him to join his Obliteride team, he didn’t hesitate. “The Hutch has really given my life back to me, so in turn, I just can’t stop thinking about ways to thank them and ways to participate in anything that could help cure cancer.”
This will be David’s third year riding Obliteride and he’s stepping it up to the 100-mile ride. “I think we’re part of the Hutch when we ride,” he said. “The Hutch is several thousand people, 170 projects, all working together and you’re part of that momentum. When you’re riding, a lot of the docs and researchers and post docs, they’re riding right next to you.”
David especially likes the fact that many Obliteride donations help fund research for new ideas. “Five years ago, everybody said about the drug that saved me, ‘If you spend your time on immunotherapy, you’re wasting your career. Don’t do it.’ Now look, they’re building a whole building at SCCA around immunotherapy. It’s amazing! So, you tell me—is the money well spent on a wild idea? I think it is.”
“We’re in a golden age of cancer research,” said David. “They’re getting to the point now where all the years of research that was required is now yielding results.”
Results that have helped David remain unstoppable. “I’m back. Cancer’s gone. My leg feels fine. What more could I want? The answer is nothing.”