Some people have a cancer journey, I had a cancer 'walk to the end of the road and back'

Some people have a cancer journey, I had a cancer 'walk to the end of the road and back'

Life can take unexpected turns, leading us down paths we never imagined. A few months ago, I took a detour when my daughter noticed a seemingly harmless black mark behind my ear. What we thought was a mere spot of black marker turned out to be a new mole, which led to a series of events that would forever change my perspective on sun safety - hence my new ‘man from Del Monte’ hat. Today, I share my story with a sense of relief and a newfound determination to raise awareness about the importance of protecting ourselves and our children while in the sun.

With a history of malignant melanoma in my family, my GP referred me as an urgent case to the dermatology department at our local hospital. Thanks to their swift action, I was scheduled for a biopsy within a couple of weeks. The results were disheartening—malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer.

A few weeks after the diagnosis, I underwent surgery to remove additional skin from my neck, hoping to remove all of the cancerous cells. It was a nerve-wracking time, filled with uncertainty and apprehension. I thankfully didn't go down the inevitable Google rabbit hole until after the surgery. Turns out that malignant melanoma causes around 2,300 deaths a year in the UK. I can't thank the NHS staff enough, they were exceptional and so lovely. Today, after what seemed like an eternity, I received a letter that brought a huge sigh of relief—a confirmation that they had successfully removed all traces of the melanoma. I am cancer-free!

While waiting in the dermatology department's waiting room, a statistic caught my attention on the noticeboard: we receive approximately 70% of our lifetime sun exposure during childhood. This revelation struck a chord within me, highlighting the need to protect our children from harmful UV radiation. As parents, it is our responsibility to ensure their safety and instil in them the importance of sun protection practices. I know it’s hard, chasing after them with a bottle of factor 50 while they attempt to run for the hills.

By instilling sun safety habits in our children from a young age, we can empower them to make informed choices and prioritise their long-term well-being. Together, let's embrace the sun responsibly, enjoying its warmth and beauty while safeguarding our skin for a healthier future.
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