A London mother of two has warned people to stay away from sunbeds after doctors missed her skin cancer for three years.
Melanie Fitzgibbon, 54, from London explained how her world was turned upside down by her cancer diagnosis in April 2016.
After being referred to a dermatologist by her GP for a sore on her eye, her skin cancer was found by chance when the specialist gave her a routine full body check.
She believes her relentless use of sunbeds caused the cancer, she said: “There were a few marks on my legs that she (the specialist) was really concerned about, I’d been to the doctor’s years before to get the mark on my leg checked out but my doctor told me it was just a blemish and nothing to be worried about…I actually went quite a few times but he reassured me it was nothing.”
Those ignored blemishes turned out to be non-malignant melanoma skin cancer (basal cell carcinoma).
Melanie used sunbeds three times a week between 2002 and 2005.
She added: “You’d constantly see in the media about ideal body types and having a tan was healthy and beautiful, I had 2 young children so we couldn’t afford to go on holiday and this new craze of using sunbeds seemed like the perfect idea… at the time the only health advice on sunbeds was that you had to cover your eyes, other than that I was completely unaware of the risks.”
Studies by Cancer Research UK showed that people under 35 who used sunbeds are 87% more likely to develop melanoma.
After the cancer diagnosis Melanie was put on a treatment of chemotherapy cream, efudex, for several weeks.
The treatment caused her excruciating pain but luckily in December of 2016 she was given the all clear and the treatment was successful.
“I was lucky because mine was easily treated but that’s not always the case, but now I’ve got to make sure my legs are always fully covered in the sun, I can’t ever enjoy the warm weather, I’m constantly worrying about what could happen.”
After her experience and the ongoing consequences she now encourages people to not use sunbeds.
“It’s worrying that no doctor picked up on my cancer even though I kept going back, all I can do now is urge people to stay away from sunbeds, looking good and having a nice tan is not worth the devastation it can cause, nowadays people are aware of the risks so why use them knowing you’re putting yourself in danger?”
For more information visit cancer research uk.