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Diane Stott

I always loved the sun, strived for that nice tan. Even used sunbeds too. I never liked my skin as I was covered in moles and freckles. So I’d try and tan so they wouldn’t show up as much (how ironic) I burnt lots, even having blisters a few times. In the summer of 2005 I noticed a mole on my neck/shoulder line (were a T-shirt neckline would be) I don’t recall ever noticing in before, so not sure how long it had been there, it was bigger that a pencil.

I decided to get it checked. The GP said it was fine. I went on my summer holiday to Spain, but was very aware of it and put high factor on it. Later that year I had it checked again, the GP said it looked fine but would refer me to Bath RUH Dermatology. Consultants there said it looked fine, but would see me again in 3 months. 3 months later I was told it was fine. If there were any changes I should go back.

My daughter who was 6 at the time would often comment on my mole. We were getting ready to go to a party one evening and she said  “you can’t wear that top mummy as you can see your mole”.

I decided to go back to the consultant to ask for it to be removed for cosmetic reasons. By the time I saw the consultant again, the mole had become very flakey, but I thought it was because my seatbelt rubbed it. The consult said again she thought it was fine but would remove it.

2 weeks later (April 2006) I had a phone call from the consultant telling me it was malignant melanoma. To be honest I knew nothing about it. She told me that I had a 95% survival rate. That’s the only bit I heard. My husband came home from work and I couldn’t answer his questions. I rang the GP and went down to have it explained to me. 2 weeks later I went to Frenchay Hospital in Bristol to see a plastic surgeon, he explained I’d need a WLE (wide local excision), and possibly a CT scan due to the position of the MM (on my neck). I also met a skin cancer nurse who examined me and displayed the mole onto a large TV screen, giving a % pigment reading.

It was decided I needed to have 2 more moles removed. 2 weeks later I had my WLE, and a few weeks later the 2 moles removed. No CT scan was done in the end. I continued to go every 3 months to Frenchay Hospital for 3 years then back to Bath RUH for the last 2 years for 6 monthly checks. Being discharged at 5 years was hard, I felt my safety net had been removed, so after a few years I started to pay privately to have yearly checks. I have had 15 moles removed to date. All various types of moles but no melanoma.

Looking back I had no support, not even a leaflet on melanoma.

I didn’t use Google either (probably a good thing) and never really knew how serious it can be, until many years later. Enjoying the summer was hard to start with, I hated the sun. I panicked over my children being out in it. But over the years I’ve learned to relax more. I now enjoy the good weather when the sun decides to come out. I protect myself and my family so we can enjoy it.

The rollercoaster that comes with a melanoma diagnoses can be a hard ride at times, but for now I’ve stepped off that rollercoaster, but if it ever picks me back up, I’ll be ready for the ride.

I’ve learnt so much about this horrid disease, and have sadly lost friends who I’ve met through having MM. I won’t allow myself to worry about the “what ifs”.

I’m now 11 years and 4 months NED. And life is good.

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