Lifestyle

I never sunbathed, but a small spot turned out to be skin cancer

A mother who says she’s never sunbathed was shocked when a spot on her face turned out to be skin cancer.

Debbie Lindley, 49, warns others that “it’s not just sunbathers” who get the potentially deadly disease.

Debbie Lindley, 49, says she's never sunbathed and still has skin cancer - and is warning others not to "not just sunbathers" who get the potentially fatal disease

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Debbie Lindley, 49, says she’s never sunbathed and still has skin cancer – and warns others that “it’s not just sunbathers” who get the potentially deadly diseaseCredit: PA Real Life
Debbie, who lives in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, says her face is already a

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Debbie, who lives in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, says her face is already a “complete mess” after surgeries.Credit: PA Real Life

The caregiver fears she will eventually lose most of her face to skin cancer after aggressive tumors under her eye and cheek were removed.

Debbie, who lives in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire, says her face is already a “complete mess”.

“I look really weird but my husband says I’m still absolutely beautiful,” said Debbie, who lives with her husband Graham Voakes, 49, and their daughter Megan, 17.

“I’d never sunbathed in my life or sun-chased before, but I got skin cancer. I didn’t understand how that was possible.

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“I feel like it was pretty unfortunate for me to have gotten it.”

Debbie was accidentally diagnosed while visiting her GP in March 2020 for an allergic rash on her right foot.

She casually mentioned a lump her daughter had noticed under her right eye – and was instructed to have it tested.

Debbie said: “I had no signs at all. I wouldn’t even have known to ask my GP if my daughter hadn’t spotted the little bead that just looked like a speck under my eye.

“I wasn’t concerned at all but he said they would look into it and booked me in for an appointment two weeks later.”

Debbie was told she had basal cell carcinoma (BCC), a cancer that starts in the cells that line the underside of the epidermis, or skin.

BCC is one of the most common forms of skin cancer, accounting for 75 out of 100 cases in the UK, according to the NHS.

Debbie said: “I thought it was just a spot or worst of all a cyst and never expected cancer. It was really shocking to find out.

“I went to Harrogate District Hospital and when they told me they needed surgery I was just petrified.”

A few months later in June, Debbie’s skin cancer was removed at Harrogate District Hospital in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

The 20-minute operation was a success. But Debbie was warned the cancer could return and become aggressive.

She said: “Apparently this cancer isn’t usually fatal, but it grows extremely fast and can be incredibly disfiguring.

“I felt so blessed that at least we caught it doing it.

“I was really worried about how I would look after the surgery — if I was recognizable to my daughter and husband.”

‘Complete Mess’

Debbie’s face remained clear for nearly two years, but she became obsessed with checking her skin for tumors.

She said: “I tried to get on with life after that. I just kept trying to live my life to the fullest.

“But it hit me every day because I didn’t want it to come back.

“I checked my skin every morning and I was constantly checking my face.”

In March 2022, Debbie’s alarm bells began to ring when she noticed a sore “pimple” on her right cheek.

After tests, it was confirmed that the cancer was back and this time the doctors acted quickly to operate urgently.

Debbie said: “They said the cancer is growing fast and if I don’t get it removed as soon as possible it could disfigure my face and make it harder for them to operate.

“The idea of ​​needing a skin graft was the scariest part.

“I went to panic units at that point and spent days crying and crying.”

Debbie had a nine-minute operation in May 2022 to remove the 3cm lesion, which she says looked a “complete mess”.

She said: “My husband is really uneasy. But even though I looked like me, he gave me a big kiss when I came out of surgery, which was lovely.

“There was nothing that made me happier than seeing him. He told me he was proud of me and that I wasn’t even that bad looking.”

Debbie after her surgery in March 2020 to remove a tumor under her eye

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Debbie after her surgery in March 2020 to remove a tumor under her eyeCredit: PA Real Life
Debbie says her face is a "complete mess" after her second operation in May 2022

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Debbie says her face is a “complete mess” after her second surgery in May 2022.Credit: PA Real Life

While medical professionals believe they’ve removed all of the cancerous skin, Debbie knows she’s not clear yet.

There is still a 50/50 chance that another tumor will form.

She said: “I know I have to lose more and more parts of my face.

“I’ve been married for 19 years and losing part of my face has really taken a toll on my confidence.

“I said him [husband] how worried i was how the scars would heal but he was my rock.

“He kept assuring me that even if I have scars, he’ll still like me.”

Now Debbie wants to emphasize the importance of people examining their faces for lesions so others don’t suffer as they do.

She said: “In a way I feel so miserable, but I also feel so fortunate to have discovered both of these tumors early, before they completely ruined my face.

“If you notice anything unusual or if you feel something is wrong, just go and get checked out. Talk to your family doctor.

“It could mean the difference between life and death, or your face being saved or disfigured.”

Debbie lives with her husband Graham Voakes, 49, and their daughter Megan, 17

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Debbie lives with her husband Graham Voakes, 49, and their daughter Megan, 17Credit: PA Real Life

https://www.the-sun.com/health/5505824/i-never-sunbathed-small-spot-skin-cancer/ I never sunbathed, but a small spot turned out to be skin cancer

Sarah Y. Kim

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