Michelle Douglas, 39, was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago. Here, she chats about why brown was beautiful and why early detection of changes to your skin is key.

 

Michelle Douglas was diagnosed with cancer three years ago - Women's Health & Fitness real life stories

 

I’ve never liked the sun. I hate the heat and sun so much that I’ve avoided being out in it for the last 10 to 15 years. I could never have been a sunbaker so the idea of a few minutes in a solarium for a tan was very appealing. I used them irregularly in my 20s at a time when there was no readily available information on the dangers of solarium use.

I saw a tan as beautiful. My skin tone was better, I looked slimmer and more firm. I glowed and I felt more confident overall.   

I was 36 when I was diagnosed with melanoma three years ago. I’ll never forget the phone call and the doctor’s voice telling me, “unfortunately, you have malignant melanoma”. Thankfully, it was found early enough and was surgically removed without spreading to my lymph nodes.

It’s not as simple as ‘cutting it out and it’ll be ok’, like a lot of people think. I have three-monthly skin checks and checks for any lumps in my lymph nodes, and will continue to do so for another couple of years.

I’ve used a spray or fake tan for a special occasion a few times in the last few years but even then it’s only a light tan. I’m quite happy being pale these days!   

Get to know your skin and if anything changes or looks suspicious, get it looked at by a professional. Obviously prevention is important, so being sensible in the sun is a must, but for people like me, who did the damage years ago, it’s also really important to keep a check on your moles for any changes. Early detection certainly saved my life.

Next: Get perfect summer skin and find out why expensive moisturisersaren't necessarily the best.

Browse more health advice by connecting with us on Twitter and Facebook!