1. ITV Report

Mother warns others about skin cancer after daughter dies

Julie Ann died at 33 years old from skin cancer Photo: Family photos

Skin cancer rates are now five times higher than they were in the 1970's, according to Cancer Research UK. The charity says foreign holidays and sun bed use are to blame for the dramatic rise in malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer.

The latest research shows that:

  • Malignant melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK
  • 13,000 people develop the disease every year compared with 1,800 in 1975
  • 2000 people die from the disease each year

More than a decade has passed since Jenny Parnwell's daughter Julie Ann lost her battle with malignant melanoma, but the pain remains. Julie Ann from Fowey was just 33 and had two young children.

"For the rest of us it absolutely rocked us, completely we none of us had realised that anything like this was going to happen, it just hits you really really hard."

– Jenny Parnwell, Julie's mother

Julie Ann had had an itchy mole removed from her face, and was then given the all clear. A year on things quickly escalated.

"In October 2001 she called me and said I've got three lumps on the back of my neck, they're about the size of mint imperials I suggested she go back to the doctor again which she did very quickly. She was due to have a full body scan at the end of November which she did, they said it had already gone to her liver and her lungs, and so we went to the Royal Marsden on December the 6th in London and she saw a very nice doctor called Dr Gore and ten days later she was dead, it just galloped it just galloped and not anything that any of us expected to go that fast."

– Jenny Parnwell, Julie's mother

Julie Ann spent lots of time outdoors and had used sunbeds but it's not clear what was the root cause. Cancer Research UK says people need to be aware of the dangers.

"People often do burn in the search of trying to get this tan and actually this tanning can be a sign that your skin has been damaged. So it's really important that you take care not to burn when you're out in the strong sun and if you are desperate for a tan it's better to fake it."

– Yinka Ebo, Cancer Research UK

Jenny has tried to turn her own heart break into something positive. As well as supporting other bereaved parents, she's been an active campaigner on sun safety.

"I've been known to go up to people and say have you had that mole checked because I don't want anyone else to go through what we had to go through it was terrible just terrible and it's not necessary."

– Jenny Parnwell, Julie's mother

If her story saves just one person, she believes it's worth telling.

You can watch Kathy Wardle's full report on this below:

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