I am definitely a product of my Irish and Romany heritage when it comes to my skin. While I have pale skin, in the summer I find I tan pretty easily, even if I apply my usual factor50 suntan lotion.
And while I like the healthy glow I get from soaking up a bit of vitamin D in the summer, I definitely don’t go out of my way to either acquire a tan or even maintain it. I’m not one for lying on sun loungers by the pool, and I don’t use tanning beds either – it’s just not my thing.
But twenty years ago things were a bit different – while I didn’t use tanning beds back then, I didn’t give two thoughts about protecting my skin during the summer at all. I stupidly thought that because I was young my skin wouldn’t be affected by the suns harmful rays. Of course, I also didn’t think about the effect it might have on my freckles and moles.
Like I said… stupid. Definitely not naive. Just plain stupid.
Because you see, I have quite the selection of moles across my body. Different sizes, different shapes, some protruding, some flat against the skin. And up until 20 years ago, I didn’t pay any attention to them whatsoever.
Until one day when I realised I had been scratching at one on my arm for a few weeks because it had been itchy. It was then I noticed it had changed in shape to how I remembered it. It was bigger, and its colouring had changed, it looked raw and painful. So I thought it might be a good idea to make a doctors appointment and to get it checked out.
Thankfully there was nothing untoward about the mole – I had just irritated it with my continual scratching. But the GP did speak to me about being cancer aware by taking better care of my skin and monitoring my moles more regularly for any changes.
Now I check my moles for any changes every few weeks ( I do it at the same time as checking my breasts) and if I notice any difference I make a GP appointment immediately.
If you notice any changes in a mole don’t panic. Make an appointment with your GP, should they have any concerns they will refer you to the hospital, or you could use a private oncology specialist, such as The LOC.
Being cancer aware and regular monitoring of your moles and freckles can make all the difference should you require treatment – as early diagnosis of skin cancer could not only save your life, it means treatment is likely to be less invasive.
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