A CANCER survivor from Redditch is joining Cancer Research UK in urging people to make sure they regularly check themselves for tell-tale signs of cancer.
As part of The Spot Cancer Sooner campaign, Lee Bevan is supporting the message that it is vital to know your own body and spot anything out of the ordinary.
It is a message that Mr Bevan, a 44-year-old engineer surveyor, is only too aware of after discovering he had skin cancer.
The father of two said: “I was born with a mole at the back of my right shoulder, near the shoulder blade. It had suddenly started to become itchy so, one day, I asked my wife Michelle to have a look.
“She noticed that the mole, which was about three-quarters of an inch long, had changed texture and colour. It had become crusty and also gotten redder, almost like a bloodshot colour to it.
“So I went to my doctor and he sent me straight away to the Alexandra Hospital where it was immediately taken out. When they called me back in they said there were cancer cells in the mole, which was quite a shock.
“But I was lucky that the malignant melanoma was caught very, very early, and also that the doctor sent me to hospital straight away.”
Lee, whose children are aged nine and seven, returned to hospital two weeks later to be told there were no cancer cells in the area surrounding where the mole had been.
But two years later, in 2009, he discovered something on the side of his nose, which turned out to be a basal cell carcinoma – the most commonly diagnosed skin cancer usually found on parts of the body that receive regular sun exposure.
He added: “It was taken out, but then it came back in October 2013 in exactly the same place. So, this time, they decided to remove a much larger area of skin from around the tumour and also went deeper to be on the safe side.”
Lee, whose job involves checking lifts and cranes, has now radically changed his approach to sunbathing, both for himself and his family.
“Basically, both cancers were due to lying in the sun when I was younger. In the 70s you never showed the sun any respect. We still go to places like Spain on holiday, but now we go in May or September instead of June to August, when the sun isn’t as strong.
"And we wear ultraviolet t-shirts when we go swimming, and also put on big hats and loads of sunscreen. It is so important to be careful, but also to check your body regularly for anything unusual or different.”
Posters supporting the early diagnosis campaign began appearing from early March featuring people talking about the importance of knowing their body, and also promoting the confidential and free Cancer Research UK nurses helpline.
For more information, visit spotcancersooner.com or call the helpline on 0808 8004040.