Liverpool skin cancer survivor gives sun safety warning as heatwave hits Merseyside
2 years ago
As the heatwave continues in Merseyside a skin cancer survivor from Walton is backing a campaign urging people to enjoy the sun safely this summer.
Mum of two Leanne James was successfully treated for melanoma skin cancer in 2016 after noticing that a mole on her shoulder was slowly increasing in size.
It was during an unrelated doctor’s appointment when the 36-year-old mentioned the mole to her GP who referred her for tests.
Leanne said: “I always think I am so glad that I mentioned the mole while I was there, I’m not sure I’d have thought to make an appointment just for that. And realistically if I’d ignored it, would I have caught it in time and would I be here now?”
The mole was removed and sent for a biopsy and Leanne was diagnosed with melanoma. She then underwent further surgery to remove a wider area of skin and was told the cancer hadn’t spread – and following regular check-ups for 12 months she was discharged.
Leanne, who works as a military chef for the Army Reserves, says she was previously “always tanned” after spending years under sunbeds and sunbathing on holidays, often during the hottest parts of the day.
As a skin cancer survivor her doctors have advised Leanne to wear skin protection every day and monitor her moles, she also regularly reminds her sons Layton, 16 and AJ, 14 and all of her family and friends about the importance of protecting their skin in the sun and seeking shade as often as possible.
She said: “I am now always the one who is telling everyone, especially my two boys, to put a hat on, get sun cream on, and they are really good, they know what I went through and they don’t want the same to happen to them. I was lucky I caught mine in time. And I never go on sunbeds now, I’d done it since I was a teenager, but it’s silly and it’s just not worth it, trust me I know. I am so careful these days and I always make sure I’m protecting my skin every day.
Leanne is sharing her story to help raise vital awareness as latest figures show around 2,100 people in the North West are diagnosed with melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer – each year.*
That’s why she’s joined forces with partners Cancer Research UK and NIVEA Sun, who are offering advice and tips on how people can protect their skin from the sun’s rays.
Enjoy the outdoors safely this weekend – keep an eye on the UV level, and when it’s 3 or above, spend time in the shade, cover up with clothing and apply sunscreen regularly and generously 👉 https://t.co/JfMmd8AkO3 pic.twitter.com/sAAVCmm9LK
— Cancer Research UK (@CR_UK) July 15, 2022
While UK skin cancer rates are rising**, up to nine in 10 cases could be prevented by being safe in the sun and using a combination of shade, clothing, and sunscreen to avoid skin damage.
Taking these three simple steps helps to minimise the risk of lasting damage to DNA in skin cells, which can lead to skin cancer.
Leanne, says it really is “easy as 1,2,3” and, following her emotional cancer journey, is keen to underline the importance of the message.
She added: “Being diagnosed was scary and I really wasn’t expecting it to happen. I took my mum and my eldest son to my appointment for the biopsy results and I just couldn’t speak when they told me. I’m sharing my story to help spare others from going through what I had to go through. I hope I can encourage people to think about their sun habits and take precautions. Sunburn doesn’t just happen abroad or on summer holidays.
“It can happen in the UK, even on a cloudy day. It’s tempting to want to make the most of warm weather but getting sunburned increases your chance of getting skin cancer – so it’s really important that people take care. It’s really spurred me on to want to help others and spread the word about skin cancer prevention and early detection too. It could make all the difference, so I always encourage people to be safe in the sun and see their GP if they notice any unusual changes to their skin.”
Anyone can get sunburnt or develop skin cancer, so it’s important that everyone takes care in the sun. Those at higher risk include people with fair skin and hair, or light-coloured eyes, as well as people with lots of moles and freckles or a family history of skin cancer.
Health information manager at Cancer Research UK, Karis Betts, advises:
“It’s important to remember the sun isn’t only strong abroad. It can be strong enough in Merseyside and across the UK to burn between mid-March and mid-October and is strongest during the middle of the day, not when it’s hottest. Avoid getting caught out by checking the UV index on the weather forecast or online. If it’s 3 or above, it’s time to think about sun safety – especially if you have light or fair-coloured skin or burn easily. Whether you’re abroad, having a staycation or just out-and about, remember the three-step method to enjoy warm weather safely – seek shade, cover up and regularly apply sunscreen.”
Cancer Research UK and NIVEA Sun are celebrating 10 years in partnership having raised millions for vital skin cancer research. Their top tips for staying safe in the sun are:
- Seek shade Between the hours of 11am-3pm in the UK
- Cover up with clothing Wear a T-shirt, hat, and sunglasses
- Apply sunscreen Regularly and generously apply one with at least SPF 15 and 4 or more stars