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MY MOLES & ME
by Gillian Robson
Be skin savvy during lockdown & know your own skin
Its melanoma month & we are in lockdown so it’s the perfect time to get to know your skin. If you have any concerns at all about anything that does not look quite right on your skin, then here is my story & my guide as to what to do during lockdown.
My first mole appeared on the back of my left leg at the base of my thigh – I first noticed a slight mark & within days it had got darker & within ten days it became irregular & even darker. My gut instinct kicked in. I knew it didn’t look right so I took myself off to the GP who immediately fast tracked me. Within a few days I was in hospital, had it checked by a dermatologist & it was removed there & then!
We are SO LUCKY to have such an amazing NHS system
I got my results within about 10 days. A day I will never forget as I walked in to see the consultant only to be faced with a MacMillan nurse when they told me the devastating news. None of us want to hear the word ‘Cancer’ but yes it was an aggressive form of Malignant melanoma (Skin cancer) I had to have more surgery to remove more skin, this was the most horrendous & terrifying time.
Having to wait for the results to see if it had gone any deeper than 6mm below the surface as this would go into my bones & blood stream.
It is so frightening to think if this happens, it spreads rapidly & in most cases can be fatal. Thankfully mine was contained in that area & had not spread, what a relief that was! However, 2 months later when I started with back pain the rollercoaster started again. They rushed me in to have some bone scans & blood tests as they were worried it had escaped them – the NHS are incredible – I was fast tracked to have all the tests, then a wait for 2 weeks for the results seemed like forever, & my life was on hold! I was determined to remain positive & that this wasn’t going to take me away from my family. Something that I learnt from my aunty who died when I was 12, she taught me lots of values in life but most of all to keep smiling & stay positive. Something she did so well during her last few months of her life as she hid her pain from me & that has given me strength to get through anything. The next two weeks were all a bit of a blur really, but the call came to say I was all clear of any signs that the cancer had spread.
My new life began – I was determined to make others understand why it is so important to wear sun protection. I felt guilty that I had used sunbeds, sun bathed with little sun cream on – something that so many of us did as we didn’t know the reality behind the harmful UV rays that the sun did to our skin & how bad sunbeds really are. Now I was paying the price for it all as I now live with skin cancer. I have had 14 lesions removed over the years; BCC’s, SCC’s all caught in time as I now know what I’m looking for.
KNOW YOUR OWN SKIN
Knowing your own skin & any changes is so important. My number one tip would be to photograph all your skin areas. Take them in good lighting & get your partner to take photos of your back & back of the legs – these are the most common areas to get issues as they are the places we miss when applying sun protection.
If there are certain moles or skin issues that your gut feeling makes you feel uneasy then pay more attention to them. Watch those closely every day & take photos (make sure they are taken in the same lighting as previous ones & the same angle). Measure the diameter over a few days if they change then get them checked out – at the moment due to COVID none of us want to have face to face appointments – so give your GP a call, explain exactly how its changed & that you have photos. Offer to send them over via email so they can send them direct to the dermatology department & they can look at them more closely – if there are any concerns then they will tell you the next steps.
Early detection in any cancer is key & skin cancer can affect all skin types
Skin cancer is predicted to be the most common cancer by 2024, 86% is preventable if we wear sun protection. Our skin is the largest organ in our body so we must look after it. If there was a cream that we could apply to prevent breast cancer would you wear it?
It is estimated to cost the NHS 180 million this year so let us start saving them money & looking after our skin.
This is one of mine I had removed from my face in August 2019
Here are a few guides so you know what to look for
I also have some more information I can share with you from MelanomaMe a charity in the North East that support patients and families experiencing skin cancer. Kerry the founder has also had skin cancer so knows only too well how important it is to talk & share your experiences.
Do contact me if you would like their booklet.
This image shows the signs of ageing – most ageing is caused by the sun – so protect it by wearing sun protection.
Wearing sun protection every day even through cloud is so important – this shows your skin through a UV light – It just shows the protection when wearing sun cream.
I still love being outside and feel so much more confident knowing that I not only know my skin but I can protect it & still have a tan. TANCREAM is the perfect way of tanning safely & loving my skin. It has SPF50 & a 5 Star UVA sun protection. I can use it every day as a daily moisturiser for the face & body so perfect for all year-round skin care wherever I am & whatever I am doing. It has an instant bronzer which is a great guide to application & a natural gradual self-tan that develops after 2-3 hours, so I don’t need any other products.
Its also multi award winning, just recently winning the beauty shortlist award for Innovation