Dad warns of unusual skin cancer symptoms after years of shirtless gardening

Around 15,400 people are diagnosed with melanoma in the UK each year, yet there is still a lot of misunderstanding around the disease.

Melanoma is type of skin cancer that can spreads to other organs in the body if left untreated.

Dad-of-two Shane McCormick became a Melanoma UK ambassador after being diagnosed with skin cancer when his doctor spotted an unusual mole.

Years spent working outdoors without sunscreen was the biggest contributor to his disease.

Here, he speaks exclusively with the Mirror about his first sign of skin cancer to educate others about the importance of protecting yourself when exposed to the sun.

Melanoma symptoms
“I worked with my dad for our landscaping company, completing jobs on the south coast,” Shane explained.

“Back in the mid-1990s, it was completely normal to be working tops off from 10am until you finished – spending seven hours in the sun.

“You’re with your mates outside in great weather –there wasn’t the same awareness of cancer, at least not in terms of working outside in the sun like that.

“We definitely weren’t wearing sun cream when we were working in the UK.

“When I was in my late teens, I was putting tanning oil on when I went on holiday.

“It was all about getting that tan, and so many of us were naïve to the dangers.”

First warning sign of skin cancer
Regarding his first warning signs , Shane revealed it was a tiny mole that caught his GP’s eye.

“I’d gone in for a regular check-up, and I’d actually wanted to know about a freckle on my face.

“But when the doctor saw a mole on my back, he said I should get that checked out.

“This was in 2017, and it’s actually so lucky that it got found when it did.

“I went for a biopsy, and it was confirmed as being cancerous.”

Many people ignore the initial warning signs of diseases, but Shane said: “As it was caught in a check-up, I didn’t really have time to ignore the sign.

“But what I would say is that the NHS have been absolutely amazing.

“From referring, testing, keeping in touch, checking on me – they’ve been superb.

“As soon as you’re in the system, the NHS is brilliant. [But] they can’t help you if they don’t know about you.

“So, get checked because it costs nothing, and it can save your life.”

He added: “I was scared for my family, for me, about our house – will we be okay financially?

“One thing that is often overlooked is the impact a diagnosis has on your mental health.

“This is where Melanoma UK do such good work – because there’s a million and one things racing through your mind beyond the cancer.

“I remember thinking – am I even employable anymore? You have to open up and talk about it, just like you need to with anything mental health related.

“That’s why I want to tell my story, because if just one person sees this, changes their behaviour, and saves themselves as a result, then it’s worth it. “

Further discussing his treatment, Shane said: “I had immunotherapy, which was intravenous so I was put on a drip.

“It became very real, very quickly.

“One of those moments that you’ll never forget; my wife was distraught, and the overriding emotion I felt was fear. I was frightened.”

McCormick now goes every six months for a scan, which means a “scan-xiety” two-week wait for the results.

“You’re thinking – ‘when will the luck run out’?” he added.

Shane said attitudes are slowly but surely starting to change, especially among men who routinely work outside under the sun.

“But the building trade is still one which is male-dominated, and has this element of bravado.

“I see a lot of people who don’t think it will happen to them, because it’s such a difficult thing to imagine.

“This is where we have a long way to go, and anything we can do to change attitudes is important.”

As for advice to other people, Shane said: “Get checked, regularly. Avoid sun at peak times during the day. And buy lotion – one of the best things about the Jewson partnership with Nivea is that you’ve no excuse now.

“They’re stocking suncream in store, which means if you’re buying materials, you can stock up at the same time.