Happy New Year! My apologies for being AWOL over Christmas but I did warn you guys that I would be switching off over the festive period and that’s exactly what I did. I took a blogging break!
It was actually so refreshing to take a step back and have some me time. It’s meant I’ve had time to go away, get creative, and be inspired and now 2018, I’m ready for yaaaaa!
Hope all you lovely readers had a fabulous Christmas and an even better New Year. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed spending time with my loved ones, eating cheese and drinking a hell of a lot of gin. Now it’s time to get back on the grind.
I’m feeling really positive about this coming year, I know some people dread January but I’m not finding it too bad this year, I’ve already put a few holidays in my diary for March and April, so far so good and very exciting having things to look forward too.
I also love that ‘fresh start’ feel in January, I know, I know, cringy BUT who doesn’t love that feeling of buying a brand new notebook and pen for work or even better getting back into the gym? QUE WHO RUN THE WORLD BY QUEEN BEE! Let’s do this.
I feel all negative nancy now, with what I’m about to delve into within this post but I just feel really strongly about it. If I can share my influence and story on this platform, then I feel it’s my duty to present to you all this message and awareness of this issue.
You’ve probably guessed by the title of this post, it’s about that golden glow. We all want to be tanned, don’t we? Admit it, we all love that ‘healthy glow’. I certainly do and I’ve craved a natural tan for as long as I can remember.
My obsession with looking tanned began when I was a teen. I’m definitely from the false tan generation but that didn’t stop from experimenting with sunbeds.
Just to clarify, I didn’t have an obsession with actual sunbeds, or lying for hours in my back garden or even on holiday to get a cracking tan. I just liked to see my freckles and have tan lines.
As a teenager, on holiday I burned. My Mam used to lather me in Factor 50 but somehow I’d still burn. I remember thinking it was SO UNFAIR because my Mam tanned lovely.
When I’d cottoned on to the fact sunbeds would give me a great ‘base tan’ meaning I wouldn’t burn on holiday, (and I was old enough to use sunbeds) and it actually worked, every year, a month before my holiday, I would use a sunbed. Not every day, every couple of days. I must stress, I was not a regular user, just occasionally if you can call it that.
I loved the results from sunbeds, so for the last three years, that’s what I’ve always done. No more burns! I should have known it was too good to be true.
We’re warned as we grow up about the risks associated with sunbed use but my frame of mind, which I’m completely embarrassed to admit now, was that ‘well people drink alcohol and alcohol can contribute to cancer, therefore sunbeds are just another risk we take every day.’
I’m genuinely mortified writing this, that I thought like that but it’s the attitude many young women and men have. Unfortunately, I’m not the only one and that NEEDS to change.
I have moles almost everywhere on my body, freckles, moles, raised moles and I’ve always been aware of them. Checking them, looking at the colour of them, shape of them, you catch my drift. And then one changed.
It was actually a mole on my breast that had dramatically got bigger first and it was around the time I got a breast enlargement, therefore the only explanation was that it had simply stretched with my skin. Just to be on the safe side, I went to the doctors who agreed it may just have stretched but she still referred me to a specific dermatology department within Sunderland Hospital for a second opinion.
I went along to the clinic, met a nurse who agreed it was benign too, so all was well. The nurse referred me for another appointment in six months times so off I went and continued to use sunbeds.
Fast forward six months, I went to the appointment at the beginning of last year and on the offchance saw a student nurse who was a little new to the department and asked for a second opinion from a Doctor as the one on my breast had grown slightly. He asked whether they’d taken photographers from previous times, she said no just measurements, therefore I was then referred to Durham University Hospital to there dermatology department to meet another Doctor and get photos taken of all of the moles on my body, just to be safe.
I wasn’t worried, or even apprehensive in the slightest. The appointment went well, the mole on my breast really had just stretched with my implant, however, he did point out and notice a raised mole on the side of my face which he said in his words ‘he wasn’t too concerned about.’ Therefore I went off to have my photographs taken and given an appointment for six weeks time.
Again, fast forward again to six weeks time, which brings us to the end November last year where I saw a different nurse this time, still at Durham University Hospital though, who agreed the mole on my breast was fine however the one of my face, she was a little worried about.
Luckily, the doctor I’d previously seen had a spare five minutes and came in to have a look at me. He agreed with the nurse, there had been a change in the mole on my face. It had changed colour and shape a little bit, therefore, it needed to come off, to my horror.
I know this sounds stupid but I love the mole on my face but I know it’s better to be safe than sorry. So, I’ll be having the mole removed on Monday. Thanks to the amazing doctors at Durham, I was able to meet a plastic surgeon for the removal so fingers crossed there won’t be a big scar!
The point of this post isn’t for sympathy, it’s to raise awareness around sunbeds and checking your skin for anything unusual. I was inspired to write this after I read this incredibly sad story in my local paper.
There needs to be one big spotlight on Melanoma so more young people like me, I am only 21 and it can happen to me. Young people (and old!) need to understand what it is and how we can protect our skin. Here in Sunderland we’re lucky enough to have the charity MelanomaMe and on their website, I found out so much about Melanoma and it needs to be shared:
What is Melanoma?
- Melanoma is the fifth most common cancer in the UK.
- Melanoma is usually, but not always, a cancer of the skin.
- It begins in melanocytes – the cells that produce the pigment melanin that colors the skin, hair and eyes.
- Melanocytes also form moles, where melanoma often develops.
- Around 13,500 new cases of melanoma are diagnosed each year
- More than a quarter of skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people under 50, which is unusually early compared to most other types of cancer.
What Causes Melanoma?
Research suggests that approximately 90% of melanoma cases can be linked to exposure to ultraviolet (UV) rays from natural or artificial sources, such as sunlight and indoor tanning beds. However, since melanoma can occur in all melanocytes throughout the body, even those that are never exposed to the sun, UV light cannot be solely responsible for a diagnosis, especially mucosal and ocular melanoma cases.
Signs & Symptoms Of Melanoma
- A new mole or a change in an existing mole.
- An irregular shape
- More than one colour.
- Larger than normal mole
- Itchy mole that may bleed.
An “ABCDE moles checklist” by the NHS has been developed to help you tell the difference between a normal mole and a melanoma.
Shockingly over recent years, skin cancer has become much more common in the UK, more than 2,000 people die every year in the UK from melanoma. Make sure you look out for a mole which changes progressively in shape, size and/or colour.
Fingers crossed I’ll be fine, I’ll keep you all updated once I’ve had it removed. Honestly, it’s not worth it. Just fake it!