16 May 2017
Anne Smith has spent most of her life keeping out of the sun. In fact, she often sends to Australia for super-strong SPF 70 sun screen – yet in the last 12 years she has had three cancerous moles removed from her body.
When it was discovered that cells from the first melanoma had travelled up her leg and into her groin, 42-year-old Anne, who lives in West Bromwich with husband Tim and 11-year-old son Mitchell, had to be treated for lymph node cancer.
Now, just two weeks after having yet another mole removed, Anne is back to her beloved road-running – but she’s well covered wrist to ankle in lycra and any skin on show gets the full Factor 70 treatment.
“If anyone is an advert for sensible skin protection it is me – yet I have still developed three malignant melanomas, lymph node cancer and had a few more moles removed, two of which also showed some precancerous changes . People just don’t realise how careful they need to be when they are out in the sun – hot day or not their skin can still be damaged,” she said.
“When you hear the words ‘You’ve got cancer’ you automatically think the worst but there is hope, look at me – I’m living proof!”
Anne met Dr Joanna Gach, a consultant dermatologist at Spire Parkway Hospital, after she noticed a suspicious mole on her leg. Since then she has had seven moles (three malignant) removed as well as 21 lymph nodes (one cancerous) from her groin.
Finally, after nine months of recovery and a 10-inch scar Anne is in remission and undergoing quarterly skin checks under the watchful eye of Dr Gach.
She said: “I’ve always been a runner and having cancer wasn’t going to stop me doing what I was passionate about. I run the Race for Life with my mum every year and I have done a half marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK. Cancer wasn’t going to get me so I fought back!”
She is now preparing for the famous PARAS 10 endurance race to be held in Catterick in September – Anne is doing the Fun Run section with son Mitchell while husband Tim does the full ten-mile course.
This time she is hoping to raise funds for the Autism Society as Mitchell is autistic.
“I love the running part but raising money is also very important – and it is great fun running with Mitchell,” she said.
As for protecting her skin, Anne adds: “I’m a little obsessed with keeping out of the sun and therefore constantly telling others to cover up and wear strong sunscreen. I also advise regular ‘mole checks’ – if something doesn’t look right then get it checked out – the quicker you take action the safer you will be!”
Covered up. Anne taking no chances while running in the sun
Dr Gach said: “Melanomas can appear anywhere in your body – even parts not exposed to sun. It is important to do regular checks, to look out for any changes in our moles and for moles looking different from other moles that we have. History of sun burn in childhood and excessive cumulative sun exposure are major risk factors for developing skin cancer.
“An important part of checking is to get your partner to ‘watch your back’! They will have a much better view than if you were just looking in a mirror and if they are the person doing the regular checks they will be better equipped to spot the changes.”
For further information on our skin treatments click here speak to your GP for advice, or to book an appointment with one of our dermatologists following a referral from your GP, please call 0121 704 5530 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne with husband Tim and son Mitchell
Anne and her mum Jane after completing a Run For Life