Life was good, I was in the process of holding my very 1st ‘Tried and Tested’ event. Tickets were sold out and the pressure was on. ‘Tried and Tested’ was a Facebook online beauty group which had gone viral over night.
I have hundreds of moles and was foolish when I was younger, slapping on the factor 2 oil and having those pre holiday sunbeds for that ‘base tan.’ Before that I even had my own. I was a dancer you see and part of looking good in your costumes, was having a tan.
Once I had my children I started to take a little more care although I was still not a vigilant with my own skin as I should have been.
Due to my large number of moles I was put into the system for regular checks at hospital and started to take sun safety seriously. I had many moles removed all returning benign to my relief.
May 2015 would change my life forever. I found out I had malignant melanoma and it rocked my world. I was to then find out the severity of the disease doing research and helping raise awareness. It scared me to death. Lucky for me I was stage one and it had been caught early. Another operation to painfully remove extra tissue around the melanoma site was needed to make sure it was fully removed. 2 days later the show had to go on and I emotionally got through my event I had worked so hard to put together. It was a roaring success. I remember my dress was made for me and it unfortunately revealed the large incision on my back. No one knew as I managed to keep it under wraps. I was fragile and just needed to get through the event. I anxiously waited to hear if they had indeed got all the cancer. It took weeks! ..so long that I thought something was wrong. At my appointment they apologised for the delay, there had been a discrepancy, on removal of the extra tissue they had in fact removed another mole ( no surprise ) but it clouded the results as it looked like more abnormal cells. I was glad however to find out it had all successfully been removed, I would now move onto 3 x monthly checks and life would carry on as normal.
Life never is normal after that and anyone who has been diagnosed understands. I am high risk and it was explained my melanoma would no doubt return, however they will do all in their power to catch it. It’s always there, the wondering is something growing? what if they miss it? I have so many to check.
Friday 18th August 2017 was going to be the day when I would hear those chilling words again.. “so sorry Mrs Guthrie but you have malignant melanoma”. 3 weeks previous to this I had had my first two moles removed since my diagnosis, It was precaution. There had been a few changes but nothing my naked eye would notice. No typical symptoms either. I could not believe I was back in this situation just over 2 years later. The worry, the sleepless nights waiting for the results. I got the phone call to say I had to go in for an appointment, I knew it was bad results, as unfortunately I know the system. A letter is good and an appointment, well that’s bad!. But how bad? How bad would it be? Will it be worse? Will I survive it? What stage is it? Has it entered my lymph nodes? Your mind goes crazy!. I was told I had stage 1 melanoma, They had caught it early again thankfully. This was a feeling of relief and happiness. It felt strange to be happy that although you have been told devastating news that the cancer was back, your relieved that you’re going to win the fight!. Another operation was needed straight away to, like before to remove more tissue. As I was being prepped nurse Carol (my angel sent from heaven) asked to just give me another once over checking my body from head to toe. Another suspect mole was found and was ordered to be removed at the same time.
As I write this I’m sore, emotionally drained but so damn grateful. Yes I am awaiting more results but I feel strong. There are so many more people worse off than me and some of the stories are just devastating. More has to be done to raise awareness and educate people on the severity of skin cancer.
Melanoma is the fastest spreading deadliest form.
of skin cancer, although I was stage 1, I was 0.5 of a mm of being stage 2. I am eternally grateful to my nurse Carol and the team at Durham University Hospital for looking after me so closely and catching it early.
This is a way of life for me now. It is a dark cloud that will follow me forever waiting for the next diagnosis, all because I wanted a tan!. A tan that fades within days and ages your skin terribly too. It’s just not worth it. Stay sun safe, use high factors and please do not ever use tanning beds. If you notice any changes in your skin be sure to get it checked immediately.
This is my story, a story to raise awareness and If it stops one person using tanning beds then I’m happy. Stay sun safe people and fake it don’t bake it. Lisa
Thank you for sharing your journey with us Lisa. You have raised awareness to the dangers of ‘getting that tan’ hopefully this awareness help others make better choices in protecting themselves from this awful cancer.