Northumberland woman, 25, left 'numb' after receiving incurable skin cancer diagnosis

Katie Cole has been speaking to Chloe French who hopes the story of her cancer diagnosis could help save the lives of others

A 25-year-old woman from Northumberland said she was left feeling numb and her life "completely crumbled" when she was diagnosed with incurable stage four melanoma.

Chloe French, from Berwick, first discovered she had melanoma at the age of 19 after a customer at the coffee shop she worked at noticed what looked like a pen mark behind her ear.

It turned out to be a cancerous mole and she was diagnosed with stage one melanoma.

She got the all clear after having part of her ear removed, but in 2022 the cancer returned - leading to tumours in her pelvis, brain and femur.

"I went completely numb," Chloe told ITV Tyne Tees. "You don't really know what to do in a situation like that and to be told that it's just... your life just completely crumbles because it does.

"It's like, what you would normally do - gym, work. It's like, 'well can I do that?' There's no normality anymore."

Chloe French with her partner Ben. Credit: Chloe French

Chloe said her life was almost unchanged when she was initially given a cancer diagnosis at 19. She continued going on holidays or out drinking with friends, and would still go to the gym.

Having opted to have a larger part of ear removed to give her peace of mind, she thought the cancer was behind her.

But in September 2022 Chloe started suffering with pain in her side.

Her quality of life became so poor she sought help and soon discovered what she thought was a herniated disc in her back was instead a tumour in her pelvis - and it was not the only one.

"There was a tumour in my pelvis," she said. "There was another tumour in my femur. There was loads of little tumours, all over my body. They found a brain tumour, which just wasn't great."

What followed for Chloe was brain surgeries and radiotherapy.

Now living with stage four melanoma, which is incurable but treatable, Chloe is on a mission to save lives.

Chloe French is trying to get out more with her dog Elton. Credit: Chloe French

She is raising awareness of skin cancer among younger people and wants to educate people about the signs and symptoms.

"I just want people to know if you've got a mole or an abrasion on your skin it just takes two minutes to take to the doctors and say 'I don't know what this is' and catch it early," continued Chloe.

"They always say that melanoma is deadly because if you don't catch it early it spreads like wildfire and that's what happened to me."

What are the signs of melanoma skin cancer?

- Mole with an uneven shape or edges

- Mole with a mix of colours

- Large mole

- Mole that changes over time

This is according to the NHS. You can find more information about the disease here.

Chloe has teamed up with staff and volunteers from Washington-based charity Melanoma Me.

Among the people she is working alongside is Robbie Brannen, whose best friend Tom Linton, from Chester-le-Street, died in May 2020 after being diagnosed with melanoma just five months earlier.

"They know how cruel this disease can be," he said. "It's taken away my best friend.

"I've grown up with Tom since I was three years old to when I was 20 and we'd always been side by side.

"And then when melanoma came along, it's taken away a massive part of my life."

Robbie Brannen with best friend Tom Linton who died in 2020 from cancer. Credit: Robbie Brannen

Despite living with cancer, Chloe said her experience had given her a new perspective on life.

"Life is too short - so go on the holiday, move house, move away - just do it," she said.

She is hoping that by using her voice and her story she could help prolong the lives of others affected by cancer.

"If I've helped one person then I've done my job."

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