A dancer followed a holiday maker’s advice to check out a small spot on her knee only to discover it was cancer.
Molly Grey, a dance instructor from Stocksfield, Northumberland, was in the Philippines with husband Steven in December 2019.
A fellow holiday maker spotted the small, dark spot on her knee, and suggested she should show it to a doctor, Chronicle Live reported.
Because she was fit, healthy and just 29-years-old, Molly thought the chances of her getting breast cancer were low.
But she kept an eye on the mark, and after a few months, noticed it had started to grow.
By July 2020 it had grown to the size that Molly “knew intuitively there was just something not right”.
She showed photos to her GP and went for urgent tests in August.
Her “life changed forever” when a month later Molly was diagnosed with stage 1b melanoma.
Thankfully she’d been diagnosed early, before the cancer had been able to spread.
In November, surgeons removed the cancer from her knee, and two lymph nodes in her groin, to reduce the chances of it coming back.
espite the quick and successful treatment, the shadow of cancer will still hang over Molly’s life for years to come.
She said: “For me, it’s a life-long thing that I’m going to have to live with now.
“I know that I’m more prone to getting melanoma, and it could come back.
“I’ll now have to have three-monthly checkups for the next five years, and I have to wear suncream on any exposed skin, no matter what the weather, and keep taking vitamin D supplements.
“I believe melanoma is very much misunderstood.
“I felt it was viewed by some as something you’d brought on yourself, that you could have avoided if you’d worn more suncream; and then there were people who thought, it’s just skin cancer, it gets cut off, it’s not a big problem.
“Your skin is your largest organ, it’s very important, it’s literally everywhere on your body, so we do need to take it seriously.”
Now that she is recovering Molly is keen to share her story to encourage people to keep an eye on their skin, and in particular, any changing marks.
She said: “It was so unexpected, me being 29, never having been on a sunbed before in my life.
“That’s why I think it’s so important to raise awareness about this: it can happen to literally anybody – even in the North of England where it’s cloudy and miserable most of the year.
“My friends now are starting to check themselves, one person actually read my story and got a mark checked because she’d read it, and was diagnosed.
“That makes me feel like my job is done, it shows how much just sharing a story can do.”
Meanwhile, she’s raised more than £1,600 for Melanoma UK, a charity that supported her during her illness.
She walked a total of 100 miles in January, less than three months after undergoing cancer surgery.
According to the charity about half of all melanomas start as a change in normal skin.
Telltale signs can be spotted using the ‘ABCDE method’:
A – Asymmetry: Ordinary moles are usually symmetrical, melanomas are likely to be an irregular shape
B – Border: Ordinary moles usually have a well-defined edge, melanomas are likely to have a blurred or jagged edge
C – Colour : Ordinary moles tend to be one shade of brown; melanomas tend to be more than one colour. They may have different shades, such as brown mixed with a black, red, pink, white or blue tint.
D – Diameter: Ordinary moles are not usually bigger than the blunt end of a pencil, melanomas are usually more than 6mm wide.
E – Evolving : If you notice any changes to a mole, for example in the size, shape or colour, you should visit your GP.