Lifestyle

Mum who wanted ‘the best tan possible’ gets skin cancer diagnosis at 20 weeks pregnant


Claire admits she used to use sunbeds and loved tanning on holiday – but is now warning others to be careful (Picture: Caters News)

Despite knowing the risks, Claire Chisnall admits that she previously used sunbeds and would avoid wearing sun cream to get ‘the best tan possible’.

But now, the 39-year-old is warning others to take care in the sun after she was diagnosed with skin cancer.

While pregnant with her second child, she noticed an itchy mole on her leg, which turned out to be melanoma.

Claire had been wearing nylon trousers at work, which caught on something but she initially assumed was a small leg hair.

She said: ‘I kept feeling a sort of itch in the same place, so one day I just thought I’d check and just see if there was anything there.

‘When I looked I realised I had a mole. It was about 5mm wide and it was darker than my others.

‘I knew that itchiness was a bad sign when it came to moles.

‘I was around 20 weeks pregnant and I had a doctors appointment book as I was suffering from really bad morning sickness.

‘So I thought I’d just mention the mole as a sort of secondary problem. I didn’t think much of it at first.’

The mum-of-two was referred to a dermatologist who checked her mole and told her she would get her results a week later.

She was shocked when she walked into the room the following week and a Macmillan nurse sat waiting for her.

Claire added: ‘My stomach dropped and I knew instantly that they were going to give me bad news as soon as I saw the Macmillan nurse sitting there in the room too.

Claire was pregnant with her son Cody when she was diagnosed (Picture: Caters News Agency)

‘They told me that they had found melanoma and I was going to need surgery to remove it.

‘I don’t think the news really registered with me until I started to read more about it. That’s when the anxiety hit and I was in fear for my life.

‘It consumed me. I had also lost my mother-in-law to melanoma. Her mole was also in the exact same place as mine, on my right thigh. So I knew first-hand just how deadly this could be.’

Claire was also concerned about her children, especially her unborn child.

She said: ‘I was panicking that he and my eldest son, Blake, now three, were going to grow up without their mum. It was terrifying.’

After having the melanoma removed, she did not need further treatment and she has told she was cancer-free, but she faced another agonising wait until she had given birth to her son, Cody, now one.

Claire’s mole was melanoma (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Her medical team recommended having her placenta checked to see if it had affected to her baby, followed by a 10-week wait for the results.

Claire added: ‘It was awful having to wait such a long time to find out whether it had affected Cody. This added even more to my anxiety.

‘But luckily it had not spread to him. I was so happy to find that out.

‘Skin cancer isn’t just a case of getting it removed and then everything will be fine. It can kill you and it’s serious.

‘I would urge anyone who feels like they need a tan to just wear fake tan or get a spray tan.

‘It’s not worth the danger.’

Claire’s leg after the cancerous mole was removed (Picture: Caters News Agency)

Now, Claire doesn’t leave the house without having factor 50 sun cream on her skin.

She said: ‘I want to get it out there and try and get as many people as possible to stop using sunbeds. They are scarily dangerous.

‘I now always have a high factor sun cream with me, I even have some in my car for when I am driving. It is so important.

‘The SPF in makeup is also not enough to protect you, we need to be wearing higher factors under our make up too.

‘After discovering my mole, I pretty much spent a year as a vampire as I was so terrified of the sun. But I have now learnt how to protect myself and my family properly.

‘Skin cancer is preventable if we just make sure we are being careful with sun exposure.

‘It is not worth risking your life for a lovely suntan, I have learnt this the hard way.

‘But I am just so grateful that I am here and able to watch my kids grow up.

After her experience, Claire is supporting the Melanoma UK petition to ban sunbeds.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at metrolifestyleteam@metro.co.uk.


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