A Larne woman recovering from malignant melanoma has urged others to protect their skin at home and abroad and to check it regularly.
Classroom assistant Sonya Taylor, who recently had a cancerous mole removed from her leg, wants to raise awareness so that other people do not suffer the same fate.
“I was diagnosed with melanoma this April and had it removed, then three weeks later when they found out it was a stage two malignant melanoma I had a wide excision made on the site to make sure that all of the tumour was removed, she told the Times.
“A skin graft was also required and it is still healing at the minute.
“I was fortunate as I didn’t need chemo, but it came as a big shock.
“I have only had five foreign holidays so I must have caught this in Larne.
“There is a big misconception that such things can only happen abroad, but really everyone should be wearing sunscreen at home from March until October.”
Sonya will now have to attend appointments to ensure that the cancer does not return for the next five years.
“I now wear SPF 50 and a sun hat for protection,” she revealed.
“I would urge everyone with moles to keep a check on them.
“If they itch or change colour or bleed get them checked.
“If caught early this type of cancer is very treatable,” she concluded.
Founder of Melanoma UK Gillian Nuttall set up her awareness-raising charity in memory of Jon Herron, a young man from Larne who passed away due to melanoma in May 2008.
“Each year 14,500 people are diagnosed with melanoma in the UK and of that 2,300 people die,” she revealed.
“That is the equivalent of six people per day.
“It’s not just sun worshippers who should be vigilant, it’s everyone.
“We are heavily involved in patient and family support, and we also put funding into medical research.
“We help patients to get where they need to.
“It can be very difficult knowing about consultants and what tests are available.
Gillian says that a lot of melanomas are avoidable.
“Stay off sunbeds, out of the mid-day sun, use hats and long sleeves and avoid burns,” she advised.
“The message is to be aware of your skin, and if you spot a change see your GP immediately.
“Your skin is your biggest organ, and in the same way that people check other areas for cancer they should check their skin. All too often when people see a blemish they say not to worry about it.
“Melanoma caught early enough is one of the most curable cancers,” she concluded.
Visit melanomauk.org.uk for more information or telephone 0808 171 2455.