A man living with incurable stage four skin cancer was surprised a mark the size of a "pencil tip" on his back had a hidden diagnosis.

Luke Thomas, 36, has refused to allow the discovery to hold him back after being offered immunotherapy and targeted treatment.

He was told the treatment would give him a year to 14 months extra onto his life. But he has defied the odds and has embraced the challenge of walking the whole of Wales.

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Former architect Luke, who has covered 795 miles of the Wales Coast Path in his bid to raise awareness of skin cancer, said: “I am a ticking timebomb. I am incurable but the treatment that I am on can prolong my life.

“It can last 12 to 14 months and I am on 15 months. I balance my treatment with good exercise and I go walking.

“I get bad joints and nausea and there are some days when I do not want to walk.”

The people of Kidwelly have been backing Luke, 36, as he walks across Wales to draw attention to the disease

Luke added: “My melanoma started on my back in 2013, it was a mole that went black.

“It was originally only a pencil tip. Being ignorant, at the time, I thought ‘it’s just skin, it can be cut out.’

“I was transferred to the dermatologist and it was confirmed as melanoma.

“Luckily for me it was localised melanoma and could simply be surgically removed.”

But after getting on with life for five years and finding love with his vegan private chef boyfriend Yuri Manca, 24, he had to return to the doctors again.

Luke, of Kidwelly, said: “[I found] another unusual mole. This time on my arm and again it was localised and removed. However, something wasn’t right.

“I occasionally started to feel weak, nauseous and on the same side of my body where the mole was removed, my armpit started to swell.

“It was time for a hospital biopsy. As soon as I walked into the consultants room for the results I saw the nurse holding a pack of leaflets and my gut sunk, I knew. It was confirmed stage four metastatic melanoma.

“It had spread across my skin and in my lymphatic system - it became a stage four. It felt like a death sentence.”

His determined effort has seen him raise £44,000 towards the Melanoma Focus

However, Luke's treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospital in London has helped him to live life to the full again.

It was back in January 2020 he had his first course of immunotherapy, which helped to reduce his major tumour burdens.

He suffered a mixed reaction and the knock-on effect of having the treatment led his health to deteriorate over the next three months.

It also led him to spend 18 days in a row in hospital as his weight plummeted and he lost a stone.

Luke was discovered to have had a severe tumour growth in his left axillary and chest.

But things have changed dramatically since then.

He said: “I can remember one particular occasion when I was in so much pain, I couldn’t lift my arms over my head to go into the PET scanner.

“Then the next plan of action, a change over to targeted treatment. Within three days I could see tumours reducing and continued with a good response thereafter.

“I continue to take targeted treatment daily and although I do suffer from side effects, I now have a good quality of life again.”

Luke has won an army of celebrity fans after kicking off on the fundraiser across Wales and has raised £44,000 so far towards Melanoma Focus Charity.

Luke has been overwhelmed by the support he's received

Luke has still got Gower, Swansea, Cardiff and Newport on the walk to cover before a Chepstow finish on October 2 in mind.

He said: “Everyone has been so kind and supportive across Wales and across the world.

“People are offering me free accommodation and free food.

“There are people who said I have given them extra hope by enjoying life and enjoying my time.

“I have got quite a lot of celebrity support, including one of the stars of Desperate Housewives Marcia Cross, along with Iwan Rheon from Game of Thrones and the BBC’s Huw Edwards.

“Huw was going to try and come to the end of my walk and clap me on.

“Sacha Baron Cohen has commented on my Instagram pages, every day has something different.”

Luke added: “Wales has one of the best coastlines in the world, it’s absolutely beautiful.

“I wanted to raise awareness across Wales and Britain of skin cancer.

"People need to use Factor 50 every two hours. Skin cancer is curable but advanced skin cancer is a scary disease.”

Luke, who will be enjoying a picnic at Buckingham Palace over the weekend, said he still held out hope as he prepared to go to London for scans.

He said: “I’m hopeful of many years ahead of me with the advances in medicine that there will be something in the future.”

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