An ex-sunbed user was left heartbroken when she was diagnosed with skin cancer; she claims doctors had initially been hesitant to investigate her mole last year.
Katie Davidson, a Scots ex-sunbed user, would often visit tanning salons up to five times a week for years. Yet in the autumn of 2019, she noticed there was a strange new spot growing on her leg and she decided to ask the advice of medics, as it made her feel insecure about her appearance.
The 24-year-old visited the dermatology department at the hospital, as she was going about an unrelated cyst condition at the time. Yet she claims doctors were hesitant to examine the new spot on her leg, as they said she would be left with a scar if it was to be removed.
In February this year, the woman from Stevenston said she finally managed to persuade the doctor to remove the mole.
In May, she then received her biopsy results which showed that she had stage two malignant melanoma. This is a type of skin cancer which often appears as a new mole or a change of appearance in an already existing mole.
Usually, melanoma can be treated if it’s spotted early. If it isn’t caught early, it will spread and will require treatment such as radiotherapy.
The Tesco worker said she felt like her world was turned upside, as in July she was told that her cancer had progressed to stage three, as it had spread to her lymph nodes.
The supermarket worker wants others to be aware of the potential signs of skin cancer and has said that if you think you may have it, you need to act fast. Currently, Katie is waiting for her cancer prognosis.
She told the Daily Record: “I had a small spot appear on my leg and it grew bigger so I asked to get it removed.
“The dermatologist I showed it to at the time said removing it would leave a big scar, but I went back again because it was annoying me and they eventually removed it.
“It wasn’t painful on my skin, I just didn’t like how it looked and I picked at it a lot, so I was shocked to find out it was cancerous.
“I wish I’d pushed more earlier because it could have been caught at an earlier stage.
“I’ve got an appointment to meet with a doctor now and I’ve had a CT scan, but I need to wait on the results of that to see if it’s spread further.”
Katie is now urging others to stay away from sunbeds as she says she deeply regrets being “careless” when it came to her health, as she did not look after her skin like she should have been by constantly going on sunbeds and often using tanning booths for up to 15 minutes at a time.
She added: “I always felt horrible if I didn’t have a tan. It made me feel skinnier and helped my skin clear up too.
“I was careless in the sun on holiday too and I used to use tanning oil instead of a high SPF.
“I started using sunbeds when I was 18.
“Everyone knows the risks, but you think it will never happen to you.
“I would never wish this on anyone. Having a glow is not worth this and I wish I listened to everyone when they warned me about sunbeds.
“Fake tan does the exact same job and you are not playing with your life.”
In the UK, melanoma skin cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer. Each year, around 16,000 new cases are diagnosed.
Unlike most cancers, more than one in four skin cancer cases are diagnosed in people who are under 50.
According to the NHS: “Researchers estimate that 100 deaths a year from melanoma in the UK are a direct result of sunbed use.”
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, Katie feels she has been put in a difficult and dark position as a cancer patient.
She desperately wants answers about her prognosis but due to lockdown restrictions, feels that the communication has been difficult.
She said: “I’ve been getting results over the phone because of COVID so it has been difficult to ask questions.
“And I haven’t been able to take anyone to appointments with me, so I’ve felt alone through all of that.
“The coronavirus situation has also meant I haven’t been allocated a cancer nurse yet.
“I’ve been having to do find my own information through the cancer research forum and a Facebook page called Melanomamates.”