There's a fresh warning over skin cancer this morning as it's revealed record numbers of people are diagnosed in the North West.
Many of those are in Liverpool like former sunbed junkie Justine Sheils, from Maghull who was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (a deadly form of skin cancer) in 2006. The 43 year old got checked out after seeing a poster in her doctor’s surgery.
Just two days later her consultant confirmed the mole between her breasts was skin cancer and treatment started immediately. Justine, 43 was shocked to hear from her consultant that if she had left it any longer to get checked, both her breasts may have had to be removed as a result. She was also treated for another suspicious mole on her lower back.
Since the age of 16 Justine, an NHS worker would go on sunbeds most days - sometimes for half an hour at a time and believes this was the cause of her cancer.
She said “There were no health warnings on sunbeds back then and going on a sunbed and getting a ‘bronzie’ was seen as the thing to do. Everyone did it. “Even when talk of skin cancer being linked to sunbeds started up in the news, I used to think ‘It won’t happen to me, I’ll be alright’ but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Less than twelve months after the original diagnosis Justine was diagnosed with skin cancer for a second time after her aunty noticed another unusual mark on her scalp. This time the treatment was more severe requiring part of her skull to be removed and rebuilt. Justine now has a constant reminder of her surgery in the shape of a six inch bald patch on her head.
Justine who will share her experience of living with skin cancer at a special event at Liverpool University today organised by charity North West Cancer Research.
Justine said “Being diagnosed with skin cancer was one of the hardest moments in my life and I was incredibly lucky to be diagnosed when I did. Skin cancer is often viewed as the least serious of all the cancers, which is why I believe there is so much ignorance surrounding it.
“Skin cancer is a deadly form of cancer. People think that if you get it all that happens is you have a mole removed and that’s it you’re cured. But in reality it is much more serious than
that and its effects can be felt for years even decades after treatment. I found out the hard way, having gone through cancer treatment three times in the last six years.”
Justine faces a lifetime of regular health checks with dermatologists and consultants and suffers severe headaches as a result of extensive nerve damage.
Following her diagnosis Justine has been an active campaigner for various UK cancer charities and has been instrumental in the fight to enforce stricter regulations on sunbed
salons and health regulations surrounding sunbed use.