A mum-of-two was told she had cancer five years after finding a mole on her thigh during her pregnancy. Christy Brookes-Parry from Prestatyn was diagnosed with level two malignant melanoma, a serious form of skin cancer, last October.
She said she became concerned about the mole when it “grew rapidly” while on a family holiday in Lanzarote to visit her mother. Over the course of the six week trip, despite her mole being on the inside of her thigh and not exposed to the sun, it grew significantly and had changed shape and colour by the end of her stay, North Wales Live reports.
When the 42-year-old arrived home, she booked an appointment with her GP who subsequently sent pictures of the mole to Glan Clwyd Hospital. Two days after later, Christy received a call from a dermatologist saying she had to come in to the hospital to discuss the results.
On October 4, Christy had her first operation and the mole was removed but complications with the procedure led to internal bleeding and she was left feeling very poorly for around six weeks. Just over two weeks later, Christy was diagnosed with stage two malignant melanoma. Over the next few months, she was back and forth to the hospital and had to get her lymph nodes removed on November 30.
The mole had appeared on her inner thigh five years earlier during her second pregnancy at the age of 36, but had not changed in appearance until August last year when she went to Lanzarote. Christy says she was lucky that she visited her GP when she did as the cancer might have spread had she waited longer.
Christy said: “My mum lives in Lanzarote and when we went to visit her for six weeks last August she told me I should get the mole checked. At the start of the holiday I covered the mole with circular plasters but by the end it had grown so rapidly that the plasters were no longer big enough so I made an appointment with the GP as soon as I got back home.
“During my treatment I was told that you should not have new moles over the age of 35. I got mine aged 36 when I was pregnant with my youngest son. The mole just appeared during the pregnancy – which is not uncommon, I was told, because you go through so many changes with your hormones. After that, the mole stayed pretty much the same from then until last summer.”
Just over two months after the initial diagnosis, Christy received a call from a consultant at Whiston Hospital to say that the cancer was caught when the mole was removed. She said: “I found out on Christmas Eve that the cancer had not spread and that the doctors had managed to get all of it. As you can imagine, that was the best Christmas present I could ever have asked for. I was meant to get the results on January 5 but my doctor rang me to say he couldn’t let the results wait until then.”
Christy, who works with her husband Tim at Apex Travel, says she is now doing well and is going for a check up every three months for the next thee years. She had a brief scare back in February when two new moles appeared on the same leg as the other one had but both of them were quickly removed as a precaution
“Although it was just a precaution, it put me back into the same mindset which wasn’t nice but cancer is not something that goes away completely,” Christy said. Being diagnosed with cancer has changed Christy’s life in several ways, from a practical as well as a philosophical standpoint, she says.
“I’ve been told now that I need to completely avoid the sun from 12-3pm, wear a minimum of factor 30 sun cream at all times and make sure I’m covered when I’m out. It’s something I’m conscious of all the time now, living with skin cancer. It can affect people of all ages, though to be diagnosed at 42 is relatively young, so it’s important for people to keep an eye on their bodies
“Things that bothered me in the past don’t really bother me any more after living through cancer. I have two children Leo, who is five-years-old, and Dylan, who is 17, and two step children, Max and Elliot, who are older. As far as Leo knew, it was just that mummy had a poorly leg but sitting down and telling Dylan about the diagnosis was probably the hardest part of the experience. It’s not just yourself who goes through it but your whole family. My father’s sadly passed away but my mother flew over first thing to look after my family when I was poorly – she was a huge support.”
Last Saturday, Christy’s husband, Tim, organised a fundraiser party at Bar 236 in Prestatyn to celebrate Christy being given the all-clear. The event was called ‘The A Fest’ and was attended by friends, family, Apex Travel staff and others. Over £2,900 has been raised towards Macmillan Cancer Support following the event via a JustGiving page which remains open to donations. Click here to visit the JustGiving fundraiser.
“The ‘A’ Fest fundraiser was great,” Christy said. “It was lovely to be in the same room to celebrate with friends and family and to support Macmillan who have been such a massive help to me over the past few months.
“They have supported me right through the journey, sitting with me and talking to me and helping me with the emotional part of the experience in particular. I will always have a Macmillan nurse to support me whenever I have an appointment – they’re amazing.”