Siobhan is a skin cancer survivor
My name is Siobhan McCarthy and I am 25 years old. I was diagnosed with melanoma at the age of 22.
I really didn't know it was a dangerous looking mole, but I first noticed a new mole on my skin in late 2011, I was 20. I woke up one morning and saw what I thought was some chocolate on my arm but it was actually a new mole, dark in colour compared to all the rest of the moles or freckles on my body. I really knew nothing about melanoma or skin cancer, and did not think that this would turn out to be something so sinister.
Not knowing how serious this could turn out to be, I just carried on with my daily life, doing what 20 year olds do. I had been to my G.P for other various things and never mentioned it. I just did not think it would be anything.
In summer 2012 I moved to Toronto on a new adventure. It was warm and sunny, and of course I was out in the sun, and sunburn did happen. As it did any time I went on a sun holiday or if we got the good weather in Ireland. I would wear suncream but not very vigilantly, and probably not a high enough factor.
Forward to summer 2013, I was on Skype to my Mam and she saw the mole and said "Whats that on your arm?" After I told her, she was hell bent on getting me to go to the doctor. I kept saying "yeah I will do." I really took my time about it. After weeks of mam asking me had I gone to the doctor, I looked up on google what a dark looking mole could be, and what I read scared me into finally booking an appointment.
The doctor advised me that they needed to remove the mole and do a biopsy.The biopsy confirmed I had melanoma. I had surgery for a wide local excision done on my left forearm and also a lymph node biopsy. The next thing was to check if the melanoma had spread, so I was sent for a CT scan. I was fortunate that the melanoma had not spread and the lymph node biopsy came back clear of melanoma also.
I now go for blood tests every four months. I also visit a dermatologist every six months.
My scar on my left arm reminds me everyday how lucky I was and how glad I am that I went to my doctor.
People think that only older people get this type of cancer but that’s not true. Young people need to be more informed, mind their skin and be SunSmart. If you notice anything unusual, go to your doctor.
About skin cancer
Skin cancer is the most common cancer in Ireland. Just over 11,000 new cases were diagnosed in this country in 2015. Most cases are caused by UV rays from the sun. For more information on skin cancer and how to reduce your risk, visit www.cancer.ie/SunSmart.