Joe Goldsmith On the 18th March 2019, I was diagnosed with Malignant Melanoma (Skin Cancer) I was one of the lucky ones who caught mine early, some aren’t so lucky this is for them.

Since recovering from my surgery I have wanted to give back to those who are less fortunate and to those who helped me along my journey, I have decided to ride the Welsh Dragon Tour a solo 500k cycle over 3 days through the Welsh valleys to raise money for the Melanoma UK Charity as they Have helped me and so many others through the hardest of times.

Please take a look through their website, educate yourself and others on the dangers and risks of skin cancer and help prevent it!

Thank you for your support.

If you are interested this is my story in brief -

In February 2019 I left my previous job to be with my gorgeous girlfriend Fi in Wales, it was the beginning of a new chapter and just when things were getting exciting...the big C bomb was dropped...not the rude kind!

Earlier in the year - January 2019 I had a small biopsy to remove some dodgy looking skin on my ankle. A couple of weeks into my new job, I received a phone call from the surgeon Hannah, she delivered the news that the results had come back and they had tested positive for signs of Malignant Melanoma (skin cancer). It felt like I was about to 'Pass Go & Collect £200' then the roll of the dice sent me to 'Jail'.

My moto has always been - prepare for the worst and hope for the best. So I did...by googling (respectable site googling). I got more educated and over the next few days...I got more worried, even the respectable cancer research sites didn't provide the highest hopes. Over the next few days I did more research all the while putting a heavier burden on myself by not telling a soul. It wasn't until things had become too much I reached out to Melanoma Uk where I got put through to Gill, during the drive home I began to splurge out my situation, fears and questions through a wavering voice and eyes full or tears, the best advice she gave me was - tell someone.

That night I told Fi, we had a cry, a cuddle and I took her through what I had learnt and what was coming next. The next day I told my Mum, Dad and Bro, all were super strong and supportive. Then when the operation date was set I told my boss Kristo (I mean, I had to tell him as I couldn't rock up with a bandage and on crutches one day). I was nearly a month or 2 into the job and I was landing this in his lap, well he and the whole team couldn't of been more supportive and because he had fought his own battles in the past he supported me like a family member.

The Op - I met Dr. James and Dr.Cubbitt and for a second time I was sliced and diced in 4 areas (very skilfully) I had 2 lymph nodes removed from my groin area, and a 4cm diameter section of skin taken from my ankle around the original affected area called a Wide Local Incision, this was replaced with a skin graft from my upper thigh area.

Recovery - It took me in total around 6+ weeks to recover from the operation because it was on my ankle this meant I was on crutches and I couldn't do a lot thankfully Fi, friends and family helped me out every step of the way (there are too many people to mention but you know who you are).

Final Results - During my recovery, it felt like there was a huge guillotine hanging over my head as the operation isn't the end of the story. The reason lymph nodes are taken is to understand whether the cancer has spread throughout the rest of your body...luckily I received a letter from Mr.Cubbitt which explained mine hadn't spread which was a huge relief, but my journey with cancer doesn't end there although I have essentially made a full recovery, my lifestyle has had to completely change as a result.

Being extremely careful in the sun is now my highest priority and it should be one of yours too. I was always careful in the sun, having a strawberry blond mum who turns red at the word sunshine (sorry mum) drums it into you that you have to be careful but the truth is it can happen to anyone, I even once had the nickname sunscreen Josephine. Just from one single sun burn your skin can be detrimentally damaged and everyone is at risk. The only advice I can give you is red + brown = brown bread and if you are worried get it checked, it took 3 returns to the doctors for them to be worried about mine, If you are worried make sure you persist until you are taken seriously!

WHY I AM DOING IT - There are many people out there who won't ever receive the news I did and this is why I am entering the the most challenging ride I have ever done thus far. I not only want to raise awareness of sun safety but I also want to raise awareness of charities like Melanoma UK as they help out so many people and they are not always at the forefront of peoples minds until the worst happens. As a thank you to them and to you, I aim to ride hard, fast and raise as much money as I can to support such a great resource for people who were in my position.

This is my form of therapy and I thank you for listening,

Joe

P.S. The photo is of me 2 hours after surgery, legitimately using a mobility scooter around the supermarket. Joe Goldsmith