The time has come for me to put pen to paper to share my story which has changed my life with the aim of hopefully saving you or a loved one from going through what I have.

If the thought of reading “my story” does not grab you I would urge you to at least, PLEASE take a few minutes to read my bullet points of advice at the end of this document.  That is the main purpose behind me openly and passionately writing this.

My Melanoma Journey

Me Melanoma, No chance!

To hear those words YOU HAVE MELANOMA.  I will never forget my consultant and specialist nurse looking across at me, how was  I supposed to react … NO Tears, NO Feelings. This was just a glimpse of the ignorance and lack of knowledge I had.  Little did I know this was only the beginning of a journey that still continues all because of a little freckle that appeared on my left foot.

Being a fair skinned redhead likely to burn just at the sight of the sun my parents religiously kept me covered up.  Truth be known, the real damage may have been caused when I was trying to get a healthy glow out in the sun or on a sunbed in my teens and early 20s, but hey it’s only skin cancer right?

I became aware of a small freckle which appeared on the top of my left foot, over time it grew but then it slowly started changing shape.  I just assumed it was just another freckle, little did I know. Whilst visiting my G.P I mentioned my concerns surrounding the freckle, I was advised to make another appointment as we don’t have enough time today to look at it.


It’s just a little freckle, no rush to go back. How I wish I had listened to myself.  I often ask myself if I had found a lump in my breast would I have insisted to be seen and made an appointment straight away.

My little freckle still sat on my foot until I found the sense to make an appointment, I don’t know why but thank goodness I did.

Unfortunately, by this time it had settled in well, it had grown……Never in a million years did I expect the whirlwind came next…….

My G.P took a photograph and sent it off to the dermatology department at Ysbyty Glan Clwyd, North Wales informing me that I would hear from them as they saw fit. I did not give it a second thought, why would I, it was only a little freckle

Within two weeks I received a letter asking me to attend to have it removed under local anesthetic, I did 

Unfortunately or maybe, fortunately, I had booked a surprise trip to Disneyland Paris for my then 10-year-old daughter, I insisted that the holiday had to go ahead and the procedure would just have to wait. When I think back I am so glad we went to Disney, as once the melanoma journey started life was put on hold for a very long time.

Cancer did not just affect my life it also consumed the life of my family, my ten year old daughter should not have to deal with this but, on a positive note, she has had invaluable hopefully lifesaving education regarding the power of our sun and I both doubt and hope she will never use sunbeds.

It was during this holiday that the insignificant blemish on my foot decided to get angrier and angrier.  It transformed literally overnight, quickly doubling in size to what I can only describe as a boil type thing oozing with nastiness.  I still had NO thoughts whatsoever about melanoma or skin cancer. 

From this point the growth remained angry and became painful and bloody. Wearing a flip flop in October is not a good look but I struggled to wear a shoe as it aggravated the growth sat on the top of my foot.

 October 2017 Ysbyty Glan Clwyd

I was greeted by my wonderful dermatologist Dr. Alison Godwin and a team of nurses displaying smiley faces. I was asked to sit on the couch and the process was explained to me, my biggest fear was my feet… I hate showing off my feet, how this has changed. 

Dr Godwin removed the growth and a section of skin surrounding it under local anesthetic, WOW did it hurt luckily the lovely nurse had a strong hand to squeeze. Dr. Godwin apologised, informing me that she had to dig deep to remove it, still, the penny did not drop… dig deep?? I did not think for a minute that what grew on the outside was setting such roots of pain and future heartache.  I looked across at the specimen jar containing the removed offending growth, it still looked so tiny and I still had no inclination of what it was about to reek.

Returning to work, I wish I had a penny every time I heard "oh I have had a mole removed its nothing they just cut it out and its fine".


Hobbling in to see “my” Dr. Godwin a cancer nurse joined us, and in a very subdued manner I was asked, “Are you on your own”.  

I confirmed Nigel was parking and would follow, I remained oblivious. Then came the words “YOU HAVE A VERY AGGRESSIVE MELANOMA”.  How was I supposed to react? I remained seated and smiled towards them both thinking “ Its only SKIN CANCER, ITS NOT LIKE I HAVE A SERIOUS CANCER” Nigel appeared and the diagnosis was repeated to him and he immediately broke into tears but in truth he too had no real idea of what this all meant.

 When I got home I read the paperwork, I had a melanoma which was 4mm in depth which sounds tiny.  What was all the fuss about, but in melanoma depth it was large enough to have possibly invaded my lymph system and my body.

Within a couple of months my Whiston hospital chapter began.   Consultations, CT scans, blood tests and Hospital waiting rooms became a regular feature in my life.

So on the 20th December 2019 I was booked in for a wider excision of where my melanoma was,  a lymph node biopsy and skin graft. In simple terms a further surgery on my foot to remove a deeper and wider area of skin and muscle tissue.  A graft was then taken from my thigh and now sits proudly on the top of my foot as a permanent reminder.  

At the same time I will never forget being injected with a radioactive blue  dye into the  site of my melanoma (top of my foot) which then identified the sentinel lymph node in my groin,  allowing  surgeons to remove this during the procedure on my foot and then to test for the presence of traveled cancer cells. 

As I was also full of cold, it was decided that I needed an epidural which brought back memories of the birth of our daughter but this time there would be no joy at the end.

My Consultant Mr Alex Benson and team kept me occupied throughout the operation, such amazing humble people. We are so lucky to have such talent in our NHS.

Complications followed, with a very degrading and upsetting period of bed wetting, inability to walk unaided, assistance required for toileting and an unexpected delay in the epidural wearing off all leaving me with mental scars that will remain forever. 

So, home just in time for Christmas but myself, partner and 10 year old daughter all agreed to a postponement of festivities for this year……   Yes, like that’s going to work for a ten year old!

In an attempt to normalise the Christmas celebrations I dosed up on pain killers, hobbled everywhere on crutches in my special flip flop and tried to be mentally tough, hard going.


Christmas over, New Year begins with a date to return to Whiston for Sentinel Lymph node result.  At this appointment, we were told that cancer cells were present and further lymph node removal was required at a date to be confirmed.

In the meantime, a routine CT scan at my local hospital resulted in a “next day”  phone call asking me to attend the hospital that day.  As you can imagine the mind started to whirl.

So that afternoon it was announced that a  GRAPEFRUIT sized cyst which was found attached to my ovary and the blood test indicated a raised level of CA125, which can be linked to ovarian cancer!!!!!

Within days, a meeting with another  consultant, Mr. Leeson, led to  further tests, examinations, scans and blood tests and for myself and Nigel to be told “ WE ARE TREATING YOU AS AN OVARIAN CANCER PATIENT AND YOU WILL NEED A TOTAL ABDOMINAL HYSTERECTOMY AND AN OOPHORECTOMY”

This really was a baseball bat to the head moment and was a total blindsiding.  So begins the hysterectomy chapter.

14th February 2018 I’m booked in for the operation at Ysbyty Bangor and on a  visit to Whiston just before this date to discuss the lymph node removal it was decided that the hysterectomy took priority and lymph node removal was postponed, at least I had that to look forward to after my hysterectomy!!

“HAPPY VALENTINES DAY” I’m trussed up like a turkey and down to theatre for me.  Eight days of hell then followed, but that’s another story, then at last home.   

Unable to move for days, I was just waiting for that phone call, did I have ovarian cancer.  One high point in my journey came with the news YOU DO NOT HAVE OVARIAN CANCER.

IRONIC… I will never know for sure but having  Melanoma may well have saved me from developing ovarian cancer!! Without my follow up scans, although I had been suffering from painful, heavy periods and fainting sessions for years, I may have gone a lot longer not knowing that I had large cysts on my ovaries.  Smears do not check for ovarian cancer. Listen to your body, it’s always telling you something. 


Whiston Again, Lymph node removal time.   Another general Anaesthetic and several hours under the knife resulted in the removal of a section of lymph nodes from the top of my left groin.  When I eventually came round from the operation,  I was introduced to my new accessory, a tube from my thigh into a pint-sized bottle which was collecting the lymph fluid from my leg.  

After a few days it was a relief to be home again but the attached tube, bottle and stylish carrying shoulder bag were a bit of a nightmare to be with me for a number of weeks. Seems daft, but a big issue was how the heck was I going to wear trousers, I don’t do skirt but no option!


Prior to this op I had been informed of the usual dangers associated with surgery but I was also advised that there was a high percentage chance of post-op lymphedema. I had never heard of this and thought to myself ok a bit of temporary swelling after the op I can cope.

 I have never had the slimmest of legs so I felt they would not get any bigger, could they? My leg was a mess, where the lymphs had been taken from I had a huge flappy bit of skin, not the best description but it was ugly, but to me it did not look swollen. Not everybody gets lymphedema, some people might get it two months, a year down line or never.

However within weeks I began to suspect that my leg was starting to swell, it was aching and causing me discomfort and a follow-up appointment confirmed what I suspected. I had lymphedema in my left leg, a condition that will be will be for the rest of my life.

Shock, horror I would not be able to use a razor on my leg, what a muppet this was really the least of my worries. As time passes I am slowly coming to terms with the fact that my leg this is life long and is never going to improve.

I can only describe it as feeling like a watermelon, numb, swollen, painful and positively alien.  It sounds really silly, but I have had to radically alter my daily attire and initially struggled with confidence in what I was being forced to wear such as really baggy trousers but I now wear what I have to wear not caring what others think. I now embrace that I will always have to walk around with one support stocking and one bare leg…. no choice

I don’t care if people think I look silly they don’t know my story and if they want to judge so be it.   I see it as part of a story which needs to be told.    Don’t get me wrong I would rather not be wearing it, several pairs of jeans, smart trousers, tight fitting skirts, summer shorts have all made there way to charity shops and due to weight gain I firmly associate with my trauma, my wardrobe has completely revamped two sizes up.    As with all women I know this would have been a major issue and devastating but for me it’s a chapter I have to accept and I need to focus on more important things. 

That said  In no way condoning being overweight, and only recently returned to work and I’m starting to get some normality in my life which includes more and more exercise, I cannot afford to have fat clogging up the vessels in my leg, this will only add to my problems.

Previously I was so active walking miles, cycling and swimming regularly but right now all I can achieve is small unchallenging walks on flat ground.  I recently went for a swim but it beat me, I left crying and cycling may never happen again.

But I won’t be beaten as I will find other ways to exercise and start my first aqua aerobics this week!

As I’ve just said I returned to work earlier this year after a very long period of time and this is now a little insight into that world of mine.  This year will be my 19th year as a serving Police Officer with North Wales Police but there now has to be major review of my capabilities in this role and a worrying unknown pathway lies ahead.

At this moment I am performing a desk based role and early indications are that this is likely to be my future as I am hugely physically incapacitated and can definitely not afford to receive any injuries to my affected leg, I think we all know how officers/emergency service personnel are getting assaulted each day.

Numerous assessments, examinations and capability meetings now lie ahead and my future is very unknown.

So, really, that’s the story so far but I feel that I do need to share some images not to over dramatise my story but to make it real for you.

As I said at the very beginning whether you have read my story or not please can I at least impart some of the knowledge I have gained as a result of my illness.   This will only take you a few minutes and could even help lead you away from a similar journey to mine.

CHECK YOUR SKIN - Who knows your skin better than you – check it once a month, take photographs if it helps monitor any possible changes. Get somebody else to help check your out of sight areas.  The sooner a skin cancer is identified and treated the better.

DOCTOR - Consult your GP immediately if you are unhappy about how your skin looks – persevere if you feel it is not being addressed. i.e I feel not all GP’s are fully aware of very early stages.


ANYONE – Anyone can get skin cancer, regardless of age, race or skin color. People with darker skin types often believe wrongly that they are not a risk. We are ALL AT RISK. Did you know that BOB MARLEY died from melanoma.


A = ASYMMETRY : When one half of the mole doesn’t match the other.

B = BORDER :when the borders are irregular, ragged or blurred

C = COLOUR :when the colour changes or varies  and/or throughout and/or has no uniform pigmentation

D =DIAMETER :when the diameter is greater than 6mm (could be smaller)

E =EVOLVING: changes in the mole over variable time weeks/months/years

I, like most of us, used to giggle at the shared holiday snaps of someone severely sunburned with ridiculous white bra straps and sunglasses marks outlined and even the lads on holiday drawing, in sun tan lotion, various body parts onto the back of their mate whilst they slowly cook…… I don’t anymore.

I want to dispel any illusions that skin cancer (melanoma) is anything less than deadly.  Sunshine is lovely and necessary, so I’m not saying we should live in fear of it, however I believe our naivety towards the deadly power of the sun needs to change radically.


Poignant during a recent routine checkup with dermatology, the first time I was also to discuss possible immunotherapy, I was informed that a new “suspicious” mole has appeared on my left thigh and this needs removal.  At this point in time I remain positive but as all through the last 18 months the cancer cloud seems to never go away.  At this time I don’t know what the outcome will be. 

As we all know, research, into the science surrounding cancer is becoming a little clearer with each day but the devastation that still comes with that word cannot be underestimated and I urge you all to look after your skin and pay close attention to anything your body may try to tell you. x