'The bottom of my world fell out' - young mum diagnosed with skin cancer

A young mum from Somerset has urged people to take sun safety seriously after she was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma.

Jessica Maggs, from Radstock, was diagnosed with the condition after going to her GP with a chest infection in November 2018.

The 41-year-old said: "I found a mole on my right breast that was was changing, it was getting bigger, the surface of the skin was changing on it and it was changing colour as well.

"So went to the GP and was referred to a dermatologist. After a few appointments I was told that it was nothing to worry about and to go away.

"I was still concerned about it and about nine months later I went to the GP again for an unrelated chest infection and asked her to look at it again and told her that it was weeping and bleeding as it had been previously.

"She basically said 'I don't like the look of that, I think we ought to get it checked out again' and to cut a long story short I was told it was melanoma."

Jessica had a number of operations and immunotherapy during her treatment. Credit: Jessica Maggs

Jessica Maggs told ITV News she was terrified after receiving her diagnosis: "The bottom of my whole world fell out really. I was alone, I remember bursting into tears. I thought I was going to die.

"I had two very young children. I instantly thought of my dad because he'd recently lost his best friend to melanoma.

"It was like a bomb going off in my world and essentially my life changed in that moment."

She's now urging others to get themselves checked if they have any concerns about anything on their skin.

During the pandemic, as health services became more difficult to access, the number of new diagnoses fell by a third - the highest fall compared to any other cancers.  

According to the British Journal of Dermatology, between April and November last year there were just over 2,600 undiagnosed melanomas, 30% less compared to 2019.

Jessica was diagnosed with Stage 3 melanoma in 2018. Credit: Jessica Maggs

Since her diagnosis Jessica has changed the way she protects herself and her family from the sun and is now encouraging others to do the same.

She said: "The sun is a great thing, we all feel happier when the sun is out but it's just about practising sun awareness and making sure that you wear suitable clothing.

"Make sure your shoulders are covered, that you put suncream on, wear sunglasses, a sun hat and seek shade.

"All of these things can be great barriers to the sun but you can still enjoy it."

Jessica has also urged parents to make their children aware of the dangers: "We all get up, we all put our suncream on, we all make sure that we have our hats to go to school in.

"I'm the biggest role model for my children, if they don't see me practising sun safety, they won't choose to either.

"It's just part of our lives now."

Sun safety advice

  • Wear sun protection every day

  • Cover up and wear sun cream even when it is cloudy and windy

  • Always use at least factor 30 sun cream

  • Do not rely on sunscreen alone - cover up with clothes and spend time in the shade