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Soaking up the Sun..

Updated: May 12

'We're all going on a Summer Holiday' is a song we used to sing when we were off camping in the South of France as children, thinking about it filled my mind with precious holiday memories, packing the bags, heading off to Dover, and knowing we wouldn't be stopping unless WE really needed too, but that's another story, we were filled with positivity, excitement and ready for all that the holiday brought us. Especially as a teenager desperate for a great tan!!

But over the years I’ve become a little more cautious, the sun cream I use is no less than factor 30 and I will sit in the shade as much as I can. I’ve never used a sunbed, nor have I laid in the garden smothered in oil on bacofoil, (remember those days?)

I have naturally dark hair and olive skin and I tan very quickly. So am I immune from developing melanoma? The answer is no, I’m not!

As a child I grew up in Africa, I can’t remember ever being lathered with sun cream, but then it was the late 60’s early 70’s. The evidence of skin cancer wasn't around in the detail it is now, if at all. I’ve also burnt over the years, even here in the UK, so realistically the damage has already been done! So, it is a concern! Yet I can’t do anything about it, it was in the past!! I can't do anything about that but I can become more observant now and in the future.

Sadly, there is an element of stigma around Melanoma. Why? Because it’s self-inflicted!

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I wouldn’t be judgmental about others using a sunbed or spending every minute in the sun, we can all learn and make changes and surely, it’s better to support someone rather than be critical wouldn’t you agree?

So, fast forward to 2024, we’ve become aware of skin cancer for quite some time now, but there is still so much to be done.

I’m based in IMSL House, Newcastle upon Tyne and in 2018 I learned more about Melanoma after signing up for a course with a couple of lovely ladies at MelanomaMe (in Washington, Tyne & Wear).

As a holistic therapist providing reflexology & holistic facials from time to time clients ask about marks on their skin and nails and its something I knew little about so would always suggest a visit to the GP, but I wanted to learn more, I’m not in any way shape or form in a position to diagnose but it has given me the background that if I notice a blemish, mole or freckle that looks irregular or a little odd I will mention it.

So here are a few facts I’d like to share with you

Melanoma is the 5th most common cancer in the UK affecting females and the 6th for males, yet we don’t hear that much about it, I think that's slowly improving but there's a long way to go.

There are approx. 16,700 new cases diagnosed each year!

No one is immune if you’ve dark hair and skin, you are still at risk.

There were 2,341 deaths between 2017 -2019, Such a sad statistic when 86% are preventable.

Getting burnt doesn’t mean that you will develop skin cancer but just once every two years can triple the risk. Please think carefully about your sun protection.

Once you’ve had Melanoma there’s a chance it will return. Serious words I know but I have to share if it helps one person survive.

How to help yourself

You will have knowledge about how to care for your skin but at the risk of being a bore, I’m going to repeat it.

Choose a factor with 5 stars, and apply it at least 30 minutes before going out.

Reapply every 2 hours, even if it does say it's an all-day cream!!

If it’s out of date, buy a new one. (I’ve been guilty of keeping a bottle from one year to the next)

Wear a hat, and glasses & stay in the shade between 11 & 3.

When to make an appointment to see your GP

When there are any significant changes with..

Symmetry, moles are generally symmetrical, if your mole is changing in shape.

Border - the borders of the mole are blurred, or have notched edges.

Colour - the colour of a mole is usually consistent if yours isn’t.

Size - anything over 6mm may be malignant.

Evolution and elevation - are there any changes?

Firm - if you feel any lumps.

Growth - anything that is growing or changing.

Sensation - tingly, itchy, burning, if there are any changes with the sensation around the skin.

Please, please, please seek advice if you notice any of these changes!

Wishing you a spectacularly SAFE Summer.

Rachel xx

MelanomaMe offers counseling, support, advocacy, and awareness. If you are in the wellbeing business I’d recommend the course too.

You can follow them on

Telephone 01914174500


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