She was planning to go to a party but a discovery stopped her in her tracks

Martina Franey shared her experience as part of the Block the Sun, Not the Fun campaign
-Credit: (Image: Martina Franey)

A mum was “stopped in her tracks” ahead of a New Year's Eve party after she scratched her back.

Martina Franey, from West Kirby, was surprised to discover a small, itchy lesion on her back. After asking her husband, Matt, to take a photo, she discovered she had something similar to a mole - something she didn’t have previously.

The mum-of-two said she had it been there for about two weeks and at first thought it was an insect bite. The 54-year-old took a photo and sent it to the GP who immediately told her it was Basal Cell Carcinoma (BCC) - the most common form of skin cancer.

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She told the ECHO: “I thought it was a bit strange because I realised it wasn’t going away. We were planning to go out that night to a New Year's Eve party but got the call from the GP who said I needed to go to the dermatologist again.”

This wasn’t the first time Martina had come across BCC. Two years prior, she had a similar mark on her back and it was believed an operation, performed by a dermatologist, had gotten rid of it all.

However, this time round, Martina needed to undergo the same operation, with a larger margin of her skin being focused on.

She said: “It was weird to have it happen twice. It did stop me in my tracks because I thought it was all gone. It did scare me a bit more because there were no real alarming signs despite the back being a problem area for skin cancer. It’s a place you can’t really see on yourself and so it's somewhere you don’t really think of checking.”

Martina Franey with husband Matt and children Honor and Fred
Martina Franey with husband Matt and children Honor and Fred -Credit:Martina Franey

There are two types of skin cancer – melanoma and non-melanoma. Both types are more common in older people, although melanoma has a higher percentage of younger people being diagnosed.

Common symptoms include moles changing in shape or size or new ones appearing. Non-melanoma skin cancer is usually associated with those who spend a lot of time in the sun and is most commonly recognised by a lump or discoloured patch of skin that doesn’t disappear and slowly progresses over months or years.

Martina shared her experience as part of the Block the Sun, Not the Fun campaign. The North West Cancer Research initiative hopes to rally children across the region to remind grown-ups to stay safe in the sun - both at home and abroad - and help reduce the risk of developing skin cancer.

The campaign highlights how those living in the North West are 13% more likely to be diagnosed with the condition when compared with the rest of England.

Sarah Allinson, skin cancer specialist and professor of cancer biology, said: “ “Despite many of us having a greater awareness of how harmful the sun’s rays can be, there’s still a common misconception that sunscreen and other protective measures aren’t as important when at home in the UK.

“But we must remember that, even when it doesn’t feel very warm, our skin can still be damaged which can lead to skin cancer in later life.

“It’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking the UV index in weather reports and to use sun protection whenever the index is at three or above. This is particularly important if you have a lighter skin tone and a tendency to burn."

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