A Gisborne man is crowdfunding to buy an expensive drug to prolong his life.
Codi Morgan has stage four melanoma. His diagnosis is terminal since the cancer metastasized to his lungs and spine.
The 21-year-old is a Gisborne native. When he was 18, a mole was discovered on his head. It was diagnosed as melanoma, removed -- alongside some lymph nodes -- and he was given the all-clear.
He went on to complete a pre-trade course in Gisborne, with the goal of becoming a builder.
He managed to pick up an apprenticeship with a Wellington firm where a back injury in November saw him off work.
It was then that doctors discovered his melanoma was back and was now terminal.
Codi is taking the new drug dabrafenib to prolong his life. He used to dream of being a builder, now he just wants to be able to take a trip to the islands with his family and own a mini-pug dog puppy.
Dabrafenib could make his new dreams a reality, however, the drug has not been approved for public funding by Pharmac.
Dabrafenib also comes at a hefty cost. At just over $11,000 a month, it is a tall order for any family to fund -- so Codi has set up a Givealittle page to help.
"At first I could not believe that in the first few hours the Givealittle page had already raised over $2000, and now it is over $15,000. I cannot thank everyone enough for their donations and support," says Codi.
"I would like to see the Government fund this drug and at least help out the younger generation living with melanoma. I find it unfair, especially because we have so much more to give in this world."
Despite there being more than 4500 new cases of melanoma diagnosed in New Zealand each year -- the highest incidence rate in the world -- the Government does not fund much in the way of drug treatments.
Medsafe has confirmed it is considering classifying a fifth new melanoma drug, but it is not dabrafenib.
"Compared with someone who is 70 in the same situation, they have lived their life and done what they wanted to do and might have the money to pay for the treatment without government help.
"But people around my age or younger, have only just started life and have to rely on parents or caregivers to pay, which a lot of families just cannot do."
This month is melanoma awareness month, sponsored by Melanoma New Zealand. The organisation is spreading stories of awareness and the plights of people like Codi.
Latest statistics show that in 2012 the disease killed more people than car accidents, with 354, verses 308, deaths and is the second most common cancer in men and women aged 25 to 44.
"All I can say about awareness is that a nice suntan is not worth the pain and suffering of melanoma that could happen later on," says Codi.
Pain and suffering from melanoma has been made a little bit easier by friends and family. Part of a tight-knit group of skaters, Codi's mates have rallied to support him, sharing his Givealittle page far and wide.
"My family and friends have been amazing -- always here for me and ready to help when needed."
• To donate to Codi's Givealittle go to www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/caring4codi
- Gisborne Herald