My obsession with looking tanned began when I was a teen. I’m definitely from the false tan generation but that didn’t stop from experimenting with sunbeds.
Just to clarify, I didn’t have an obsession with actual sunbeds, or lying for hours in my back garden or even on holiday to get a cracking tan. I just liked to see my freckles and have tan lines.
As a teenager, on holiday I burned. My Mam used to lather me in Factor 50 but somehow I’d still burn. I remember thinking it was SO UNFAIR because my Mam tanned lovely.
When I’d cottoned on to the fact sunbeds would give me a great ‘base tan’ meaning I wouldn’t burn on holiday, (and I was old enough to use sunbeds) and it actually worked, every year, a month before my holiday, I would use a sunbed. Not every day, every couple of days. I must stress, I was not a regular user, just occasionally if you can call it that.
I loved the results from sunbeds, so for the last three years, that’s what I’ve always done. No more burns! I should have known it was too good to be true.
We’re warned as we grow up about the risks associated with sunbed use but my frame of mind, which I’m completely embarrassed to admit now, was that ‘well people drink alcohol and alcohol can contribute to cancer, therefore sunbeds are just another risk we take every day.’
I’m genuinely mortified writing this, that I thought like that but it’s the attitude many young women and men have. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one and that NEEDS to change.
I have moles almost everywhere on my body, freckles, moles, raised moles and I’ve always been aware of them. Checking them, looking at the colour of them, shape of them, you catch my drift. And then one changed.
It was actually a mole on my breast that had dramatically got bigger first and it was around the time I got a breast enlargement, therefore the only explanation was that it had simply stretched with my skin. Just to be on the safe side, I went to the doctors who agreed it may just have stretched but she still referred me to a specific dermatology department within Sunderland Hospital for a second opinion.
I went along to the clinic, met a nurse who agreed it was benign too, so all was well. The nurse referred me for another appointment in six months times so off I went and continued to use sunbeds.
Fast forward six months, I went to the appointment at the beginning of last year and on the offchance saw a student nurse who was a little new to the department and asked for a second opinion from a Doctor as the one on my breast had grown slightly. He asked whether they’d taken photographers from previous times, she said no just measurements, therefore I was then referred to Durham University Hospital to there dermatology department to meet another Doctor and get photos taken of all of the moles on my body, just to be safe.
I wasn’t worried, or even apprehensive in the slightest. The appointment went well, the mole on my breast really had just stretched with my implant, however, he did point out and notice a raised mole on the side of my face which he said in his words ‘he wasn’t too concerned about.’ Therefore I went off to have my photographs taken and given an appointment for six weeks time.
Again, fast forward again to six weeks time, which brings us to the end November last year where I saw a different nurse this time, still at Durham University Hospital though, who agreed the mole on my breast was fine however the one of my face, she was a little worried about.
Luckily, the doctor I’d previously seen had a spare five minutes and came in to have a look at me. He agreed with the nurse, there had been a change in the mole on my face. It had changed colour and shape a little bit, therefore, it needed to come off, to my horror.
I know this sounds stupid but I love the mole on my face but I know it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, I’ll be having the mole removed on Monday. Thanks to the amazing doctors at Durham, I was able to meet a plastic surgeon for the removal so fingers crossed there won’t be a big scar!
Fingers crossed I’ll be fine, I’ll keep you all updated once I’ve had it removed. Honestly, it’s not worth it. Just fake it!
Alice went on to say she was inspired to share her story to also raise awareness after reading Amanda’s article in the Sunderland echo and in her own words… There needs to be one big spotlight on Melanoma so more young people like me, I am only 21 and it can happen to me. Young people (and old!) need to understand what it is and how we can protect our skin. Here in Sunderland we’re lucky enough to have the charity MelanomaMe and on their website, I found out so much about Melanoma and it needs to be shared.
Thank you Alice for kindly offering to share your story in a bid to help raise awareness of the dangers of sunbeds, sun burn and the importance of checking your skin. We wish you well for your upcoming surgery and a speedy recovery and good results.