INDIANAPOLIS — Ben Davis High School graduate Macklin Swinney is on his way to the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Md., today for a new treatment in his battle with stage four melanoma.
The trip was made possible, in part, because of a benefit concert that raised more than $12,000 for him and his family.
Swinney’s long-time barber, Chris Martin at Clippers Barber Shop on the westside of Indianapolis, spent the last two months putting together the benefit. It was held this past Friday at the Indy West Conference Center after Martin was able to sell all of the available tickets.
Martin said he was overwhelmed by the support for Swinney, 26.
“The night of the show, people kept coming in and buying tickets and donating, and the guys working the door said to me ‘people want a $20 ticket and they’re giving a $100 bill and saying keep the change,’” Martin said. “My mind was blown. The family is so thankful. They were overwhelmed.
“I’m really proud of all my guys at the barber shop and the community for the way they’ve just given and given and given. I said I needed help and they just jumped up and asked ‘what do you need?’ I also want to thank Alex Henderson and Ashlee Byrd, especially. They were a big help.”
Between 450 to 500 people attended the event.
Macklin’s father, Scott Swinney, said his son is keeping a positive attitude as he enters what is a clinical trial to see if he’s fit to try a drug that has had extremely positive results in treating melanoma. The drug vemurafenib has been shown to affect the BRAF gene, which helps the cancer cells grow. It has shown to shrink many of these tumors and is often used in melanomas that test positive for this gene change.
“The drug has shown quite a bit of promise,” the elder Swinney said. “There’s a higher percentage of response to this drug than anything they’ve done so far. Melanoma is a particularly nasty cancer because it’s growth potential is so fast. It has so many mutating characteristics that it’s kind of hard to keep a handle on it.”
Still, Swinney said his son’s spirit is not shaken, and that he’s bound and determined to beat the disease.
“His attitude throughout this entire endeavor has been so admirable and inspirational,” he said. “He hardly ever complains and every time they tell him it’s going to be painful, his focus is on the end result. We’re lucky to have the doctors we’ve had surrounding him and the framework of a support group that we have.”
Macklin Swinney will be in Maryland for an assessment and if all goes as planned, will be admitted in two to three weeks for his first phase of the treatments.
Anyone interested in following his journey may read his online blog, which he updates daily, at www.caringbridge.org/visit/macklinswinney.
“Everyone has really pitched in to help,” Swinney said. “Just a huge thanks to Chris Martin and Ashlee Byrd, because we’ve had so much going on, it’s hard to take care of everything. We were overwhelmed by the support.”