Prestatyn mum's warning after mole that appeared in pregnancy turned into cancer
A mum whose mole turned cancerous five years after it first appeared during pregnancy has urged people to keep a close eye on their bodies.
Christy Brookes-Parry, from Prestatyn, was diagnosed with level two malignant melanoma - a serious form of skin cancer - last October.
She had been to Lanzarote the previous August to visit her mother who lives on the island. Over the course of the six week trip, the mole - which was on the inside of her thigh - grew significantly, despite not being exposed to the sun.
By the end of her stay, it had changed shape and colour. Christy's mother urged her to get it checked.
When the 42-year-old arrived home, she booked an appointment with her GP who sent photographs of the mole to Ysbyty Glan Clwyd. Two days after later, Christy received a call from a dermatologist asking her to come in to the hospital to discuss the results.
On October 4, Christy had her first operation to remove the mole, but complications with the procedure led to internal bleeding and she was left feeling very unwell for several weeks.
Soon afterwards, Christy was diagnosed with stage two malignant melanoma, and had her lymph nodes removed on November 30.The mole had appeared on Christy's inner thigh five years earlier during her second pregnancy, aged 36, but had not changed in appearance until August 2021 when she went to Lanzarote.
Christy said she was lucky that she sought medical advice when she did, as the cancer might have spread if she had waited longer.
'The mole just appeared during the pregnancy - which is not uncommon'
Christy said: "My mum lives in Lanzarote and when we went to visit her for six weeks last August she told me I should get the mole checked. At the start of the holiday I covered the mole with circular plasters but by the end it had grown so rapidly that the plasters were no longer big enough so I made an appointment with the GP as soon as I got back home.
"During my treatment I was told that you should not have new moles over the age of 35. I got mine aged 36 when I was pregnant with my youngest son. The mole just appeared during the pregnancy - which is not uncommon, I was told, because you go through so many changes with your hormones. After that, the mole stayed pretty much the same from then until last summer."
Christy received a call on Christmas Eve 2021 to say that the cancer was caught when the mole was removed.
She said: "I found out on Christmas Eve that the cancer had not spread and that the doctors had managed to get all of it. As you can imagine, that was the best Christmas present I could ever have asked for. I was meant to get the results on January 5 but my doctor rang me to say he couldn't let the results wait until then."
Christy says she is now doing well but will have check-ups every three months for the next thee years.
'It's important for people to keep an eye on their bodies'
Christy had a scare in February when two new moles appeared on her leg, but both of them were quickly removed as a precaution.
"Although it was just a precaution, it put me back into the same mindset which wasn't nice but cancer is not something that goes away completely," Christy said.
Being diagnosed with cancer has changed Christy's life in a number of ways.
"I've been told now that I need to completely avoid the sun from 12-3pm, wear a minimum of factor 30 sun cream at all times and make sure I'm covered when I'm out. It's something I'm conscious of all the time now, living with skin cancer. It can affect people of all ages, though to be diagnosed at 42 is relatively young, so it's important for people to keep an eye on their bodies.
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"Things that bothered me in the past don't really bother me any more after living through cancer. I have two children Leo, who is five-years-old, and Dylan, who is 17, and two step children, Max and Elliot, who are older. As far as Leo knew, it was just that mummy had a poorly leg but sitting down and telling Dylan about the diagnosis was probably the hardest part of the experience.
"It's not just yourself who goes through it but your whole family. My father's sadly passed away but my mother flew over first thing to look after my family when I was poorly - she was a huge support."
Last Saturday, Christy's husband, Tim, organised a fundraiser party in Prestatyn to celebrate Christy being given the all-clear. The event raised £2,900 for Macmillan Cancer Support.
"It was lovely to be in the same room to celebrate with friends and family and to support Macmillan who have been such a massive help to me over the past few months", said Christy.
"They have supported me right through the journey, sitting with me and talking to me and helping me with the emotional part of the experience in particular. I will always have a Macmillan nurse to support me whenever I have an appointment - they're amazing."
For more information about moles and melanomas, including when to seek medical advice, visit the NHS website.