A Blackpool melanoma sufferer is backing a call from a cancer charity for a national ban on sunbeds.
Melanoma UK is currently campaigning for a blanket ban across the country, as figures show yearly cases of skin cancer are on the rise. The North West is the worst for cases in women under 30.
Abigail Aldersley, of Marton, is fully behind the call, having being diagnosed with stage 1b malignant melanoma five years ago.
Abi, 36, said: “I was diagnosed after going on holiday and noticing a large mole on my back. It was about the size of a thumbprint and dark brown. I’d never really seen it before and it just didn’t look right. It took me a few months to go to my GP to get it checked out, and I was fast tracked to see a dermatologist within the week.
“Neither myself nor my family had heard of melanoma before, so we had to do a lot of research. That’s when I found the charity, Melanoma UK and their support has been invaluable.”
Abi, an assistant practitioner for the NHS, said: “As the melanoma is staged by depth, you have to have the healthy skin margins cut out completely to ensure all the melanoma has been removed.
“As my melanoma was 0.9mm deep, I had to have the procedure. This is done via local anaesthetic and is extremely painful and traumatic. I’m now left with a lot of scarring, which has affected my body confidence.
“As it was stage 1, I did not get offered a lymph node biopsy, to monitor the progression of the cancer and ensure it hasn’t spread to the lymph nodes. I believe this is offered to stage 2 patients, and in some regions, stage 1.
“Five years on, I’m still very much under observation by my consultant and his team. Since my initial surgery, I’ve had full body checks every three months, 13 more biopsies (moles removed), two more malignancies with further surgery, medical photography, mole-mapping and I am currently being monitored for the change of another mole. It’s become a way of life for me now, although I will never get used to the procedures.
“We don’t need sunbeds. To put it bluntly, they gave me cancer. They are a huge health risk. It is proven sunbed users have an increased risk of developing cancer because of the exposure to UV rays. I still don’t think people understand how harmful they are. Australia has successfully managed to ban sunbeds and other counties need to follow suit.
“I was a sunbed-user throughout most of my 20s, it was so important to me to have a tan. Little did I know the damage I was doing. Melanoma is so prevalent now, with six people dying from the disease every day. There are so many ways to tan safely, and I’d much rather get a tan out of a bottle rather than potentially risking your life.
“I had a friend recently go get a mole checked out by her GP because of what has happened to me. It was fine, but it’s worth going to get things checked. I urge anyone to go to their GP if they see any signs of change in a mole, such as abnormal growth, uneven edges, itching and bleeding.
For more information see www.melanomauk.org.uk