Too many times I’ve seen burnt workers, guys wandering around in the hottest part of the day without a top or sun protection on. I’ve been scoffed at by my guy friends when I’ve offered them sun cream– even though they know my story.
Many of you would have noticed my long absence around May last year. That is because on the 4th May ‘17, after 10 months of marriage, my husband Sam passed away from Melanoma Metastasis. He was days away from his 34th birthday.
I first spotted the mole on Sam’s back in July 2014. He was moley generally, with fair skin, but this one looked a little different. It had an odd red blemish on one side. I told him he should have it looked at, as a precaution. “Why? I haven’t ever had bad sunburn!” he told me. It wasn’t until April 2015 when the mole started to rub on his shirt whilst he was at the gym that he listened to me and had it looked at. And it was cancer. He had surgery to remove all 0.5mm of it, and we thought that was the end of that. We carried on with life and got engaged that July in Rome.
April 2016, and Sam comes out of the shower with concern on his face- he’s found a lump in his underarm. A visit to his surgeon and a biopsy confirms the worst. He undergoes more surgery, and radiotherapy is booked as a precaution- “Belt and braces” they called it. They postpone it slightly for our wedding in July, so after a 6 day honeymoon we are back at the hospital every day for 6 weeks of radiotherapy. Chemotherapy is not an option for Melanoma. It’s too aggressive. During the radiotherapy bruising and lumps start to appear all over his body. We call his surgeon. Sam had gone stage 4. In September 2016 we are told that the cancer was not only all over his body, but it was now in his lungs and brain.
We took the medication and steroids and carried on with life as best we could. No one could give us timescales. All we knew is that these drugs would keep him going until the cancer adapted, mutated so that it was immune to the treatment. So we decided to carry on with life as best we could, travelling to Budapest for my 31st birthday, buying our first home together, trying to start a family.
13 days after moving into our first home together, Sam passed away suddenly. It was exactly 1 week after being told that the brain tumours were mutating and fighting his medication.
People don’t seem to take things seriously until it happens to them, or someone they know. Well, I’m here to tell you that now you do know someone. I’m a widow at 31. We were trying to start a family- but it wasn’t meant to be.
Sam wore sun cream. He covered up. And he still got cancer. Cancer can happen at any age and Melanoma is by far the most difficult to treat. We have come so far with cancer treatments, but we are still very much in the dark when it comes to treating skin cancer. Why increase your chances of getting it for the sake of not protecting your skin? Spending 5 minutes popping some cream on? So before you take your shirt off, singe your skin whilst sat in the pub garden and think you’ll be ok… just ask yourself. Is it worth it?
I wouldn’t wish the pain of losing my best friend, the man I was to spend the rest of my life with, on my worst enemy.
This isn’t ‘health and safety gone mad’. It’s common sense.
You can read Jess’s original article on Linkedin.