Mum will never be free of skin cancer as signs appeared 12 years ago

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A mum-of-four feared she was “never going to be free” of cancer after continuous diagnoses of the disease.

Melissa Lewis, 48, has been living with skin cancer for more than a decade.

She first spotted a basal cell carcinoma – a common type of non-melanoma skin cancer – on her leg in 2011.

The former nurse has since found them on her forehead, nose, chest and back, and has lost count of how many have been removed.

But in 2018 Melissa, from Sydney in Australia, discovered what looked like a group of freckles lumped together in front of her ear.

This prompted her to visit her dermatologist who referred her to the Melanoma Institute in north Sydney. Here it was confirmed she had a melanoma – the most serious type of skin cancer.

“I was very lucky to have caught it when I did,” she said.

“It did make me think that, ‘This is it’. The dread I experienced when I heard that word was really intense.

“Having four kids thinking I am not going to be there with them was so overwhelming.

“You automatically fast forward to the worst-case scenario.”

A month after her diagnosis, Melissa had her melanoma removed. But just two months after this, a biopsy revealed she had Bowen’s disease – an early form of skin cancer.

Melissa said: “I am never going to be free from this.

“Basically if I don’t have my cancers removed, it can become a more serious invasive cancer.”

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Since she was diagnosed with Bowen’s syndrome, Melissa undergoes a yearly non-surgical cancer treatment called photodynamic therapy.

This involves light-sensitive medicine and a light source to destroy abnormal cells.

“I hate it, I get really anxious before I know I am coming up for treatment,” Melissa said.

“It is really stressful as I know how much it hurts.”

She claims the treatment also leaves her skin pockmarked, making her look like Nightmare on Elm Street antagonist Freddy Krueger.

Melissa added: “I will have up to 14 days looking like Freddy Krueger – I can’t go out in public.

“I look at my own kids when I have had the treatment and they find it hard to look at me.

“I tell them that this is why you put sunscreen on, this is why you are careful.”

According to the NHS, symptoms of melanoma skin cancer include:

  • A mole that’s changed size, shape or colour
  • A mole that’s painful or itchy
  • A mole that’s inflamed, bleeding or crusty
  • A new or unusual mark on your skin that has not gone away after a few weeks
  • A dark area under a nail that has not been caused by an injury.

If you think you have skin cancer you should speak to your GP as soon as possible.

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