Concerns have been raised regarding rates of melanoma diagnosis after a man developed the disease and went for years undiagnosed until he eventually passed away.
Terry Wheeldon, from Manchester began using sunbeds in 1999 shortly before his marriage to wife Joann, booking six sessions “to get a bit of colour for our wedding,” he told MailOnline.
‘Terry never used sunbeds normally, or even went in the sun,’ his wife recalled, and he stopped doing so after his fourth session, noticing a red blister starting to form on his stomach.
Although Terry’s GP said it was nothing to worry about, this was in fact the first signs of Terry’s malignant melanoma — a potential fatal form of skin cancer.
Oblivious to this, the couple continued with their lives and raising their two daughters, Morgan and Demi.
But the blister didn’t go away, and slowly turned into a small brown mole in the five years that followed. Although Terry returned to his doctor several occasions, each time he was reassured that it was fine.
It was only when he was referred to a dermatologist, and then on for a biopsy that the family discovered it was a malignant melanoma.
It had been caught in time, but then four years later in 2010, Terry found a pea-sized lump close to the site of the original mole. A CT scan revealed that there were seven small tumours in his lungs and he was given just 16 months to live. He decided against having radiotherapy.
“He went for quality of life,” Joann said. “It was a really brave decision, and it was the right one.
“It was torture living with that time bomb, but he was so positive and determined not to let melanoma ruin the last months he had with his family.
“‘Three years on, we still find it hard to go to Terry’s resting place knowing that if he had not used a sunbed, or if his mole had been removed at the beginning, he would still be here.”
Joann is urging with the slightest suspicion that something could be up to visit their GP without delay.
Since Terry’s death, she has worked with Melanoma UK and as a counsellor through her website Life After Melanoma. She said she is constantly surprised by how little people understand the dangers of skin cancer.
“It is devastating to know a mole killed my husband and robbed us of our dreams,” she said. “I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what we have been through.”
If you or your loved one has suffered as the result of a faulty or unregulated sunbed and you’d like to discuss your legal options, we can help you. Give us a call on 0800 122 3130 or contact us online here.