PROUD TO BE A PATRON FOR MELANOMA UK

Chris Bryant, Labour MP for the Rhondda shows his support for Melanoma UK and why he is proud to be a Patron.

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Two top tips from our Patron, Chris Bryant MP ūüíú





CHRIS BRYANT SHARES HIS LEARNING POINTS SINCE BEING DIAGNOSED WITH MELANOMA IN 2019

1. Don’t hang about with a doubt. Skin cancer is on the increase in the UK and as the specialist told me ‘melanomas can be right little buggers’. The earlier you catch them the better. All my scans since the initial diagnosis have been clear, but I have no doubt that if I had left it a few more weeks it might have been very different.

2. Avoid Doctor Google. All you’ll do is wind yourself up. It’s not just that, lots of sites are utter nonsense. Nearly everything is out of date. So listen to your doctor – and if you must go online only use the NHS site.

3. Take someone with you when you’re getting your test results. Whichever way it goes you may be in such shock that you can’t really hear what the doctor is saying. I have even heard of patients who never turned up for their next appointment because they hadn’t really heard what they were being told.

4. Take a notebook as well. You may have a hundred and one questions and it is really worthwhile writing them out beforehand. You’ll kick yourself if you forget to ask something really important – or the answer slips your mind.

5. If you have had bad news, bear in mind that you will be in shock. I felt as if someone had punched me very hard in the stomach. I wanted to cry all the time, my skin felt ice cold and I was shaking. My brain was racing away so fast that I couldn’t sleep – I am, it turns out, a bit of a drama queen. But someone told me that the first night would be the worst – and that helped me put things in perspective.

6. A friend also told me not to make any decisions immediately after the news, including who to tell and what to tell them. This was particularly difficult because I had told colleagues and friends that I was getting my results at noon, so they all started phoning and texting, increasingly worried. It was a bit unfair to them, but I’m glad I waited for twenty-four hours before I replied. My husband and I needed to look after ourselves first.

7. Don’t feel under pressure to be relentlessly positive all the time. You will feel down sometimes – and that’s fine. My favourite moment was when I was with the Maxillo Facial surgeon who was going to do the second round of surgery cutting out a margin round the original site. I’d got paranoid about every little twinge in my body, presuming that I was riddled with cancer of every conceivable part of my body and I’d be gone by the end of the week. He quite simply asked me to point to any part of my body that I’d been fretting about and he’d check it out. There was nothing, but the sense of relief was a tonic in itself.

8. I’m told the seed for my melanoma was probably sown when I got sunburnt as a child, so keep children out of the sun between 10 and 4, make sure they are larded up with Factor 30 and never go near a sunbed. The only safe tan comes in a can, especially for fair-haired freckled types like me.