Addiction to sunbeds gave me skin cancer… and left me with a gaping hole in my leg
A woman who admits her sunbed addiction left her looking like an ‘Oompa Loompa’ was left with a gaping hole in her leg after a battle with skin cancer.
Doctors were forced to gouge away part of Stacey Pickess’s leg when her twice-weekly sunbed habit left her with a malignant melanoma.
The 28-year-old beautician managed to beat the cancer - but has been left with a hole the size of a golf ball in her lower leg as a constant reminder.
Ms Pickess, from Burton-on-Trent, Staffordshire, was just 16 when she started to spend hours basking in the sun on foreign holidays and topping up her tan back home with regular sunbeds.
But after contracting skin cancer she now covers up in the sun and has opened her own fake tanning salon - where sun beds are barred.
‘I always thought I was too young to get cancer. I was only bothered about getting a tan like all my mates,’ she said.
‘I’d lie in the sun for hours - I didn’t realise that the factor 8 oil I was slapping on was just frying my skin.
‘I worked at a salon that had sunbeds - so in between beach holidays, I’d top up my tan twice a week, going on the beds for 12 minutes at a time.
‘My friends said I looked great - we’d always compare tans to see who was brownest.
‘But my boyfriend, Luke, would sometimes tell me I’d overdone the tanning.
‘Looking back, I now realise I was the same colour as an Oompa Loompa from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
Ms Pickess cut back on her sunbed usage in her mid-20s when she noticed her skin was ageing but only feared for her health in 2006 when her boyfriend’s mother spotted a mole on Ms Pickess’ ankle.
Her GP immediately referred her to a skin specialist who removed two moles for tests but seven days later, Ms Pickess was called to Burton hospital to learn she had a malignant melanoma.
‘Doctors told me they’d have to operate on me under a local anaesthetic - so I’d be awake for the operation,’ she commented.
‘I told all my friends and family what was happening - they were all terrified for me, but I don’t think it had really sunk in.
‘I went through the operation thinking everything was going to be fine.’
She continued: ‘It was only four days later when nurses took off my bandages and I saw the gaping hole in my leg that it really hit me.
‘It was a huge hole full of mush. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe that my desperation to get a tan had ended up with me having a brush with death and left with a deformed leg.
‘I’ve only been on holiday once since I had the cancer removed, for a friend’s hen do - I covered up constantly, wearing maxi dresses and sun hats.’
She has since opened her own salon - Safer Sun - to provide sun worshippers a safer alternative to sun beds and bathing.
‘I don’t know whether I got cancer because of sunbeds or because I sun bathed so much on holiday. It was probably a combination of the two.
‘Now, I want to do all I can to warn other people of the dangers of tanning.
‘I offer people spray tans rather than sunbeds - and tell my customers what happened to me, and show them the hole in my leg.
‘I know everyone has their own opinion on sunbeds, and I can’t change everyone’s way of thinking.’
By Daily Mail Reporter
Tell-a-Friend comments powered by Disqus