AFTER being told she only had six years to live, a new treatment is helping Kristal Elkins through her dark times.
Kristal was told in April last year she had stage four melanoma at age 28, while trying to conceive through IVF.
She and husband Ben had been trying for a new family, but their dreams were dashed after doctors told her the cancer she thought she'd beaten had returned.
Tests revealed the melanoma had advanced to stage four (the most advanced stage), and had spread throughout her body.
But her spirit for life has ensured she hasn't given up.
Now a new treatment, Zelboraf, was helping her in the battle.
Since hearing the news, the strong and determined woman has taken a new lease on life and is living it the best she can.
"There's no point wallowing in self-pity, you've got to stay positive and live life," Kristal said.
Although simple things like being in the sun are out since starting the treatment, which makes her skin photosensitive, Kristal quit her job and she and husband Ben began travelling and enjoying life.
"I finished work a year ago, because I thought why waste my time working?" she said.
Kristal is one of a number of melanoma patients who can receive the new, targeted treatment option Zelboraf (vemurafenib), which has now been approved by the Therapeutic Goods Administration.
For people who have advanced melanoma with a specific gene mutation, called BRAF (V600), Zelboraf is an example of a "personalised medicine" - in this case, a medicine which is specifically designed for people with a type of melanoma that can be determined through a diagnostic test.
Melanoma: THE FACTS
Australia has the world's highest rate with more than 11,900 cases of melanoma diagnosed and about 1500 deaths in Australia each year.
It is the third most common form of cancer in Australian men and women.
It is most prevalent in younger Australians, killing more people aged 20-34 years old than any other cancer.
Over the past 40 years there has been very little advance in the treatment of advanced melanoma.