Wayne Mayo

A Golfer Like Me

Wayne Mayo

Wayne Mayo is 42 and has played golf for 22 years. He plays off a handicap of three and is currently the Men’s Derbyshire County Captain.

About me
I love golf and play as much as I can. I enjoy 36-hole events and but would never apply sunscreen, mainly because I didn’t want a greasy grip, simply relying on a baseball cap to keep my head covered.

My experience
In July this year my wife (a skin cancer nurse specialist) noticed some blood on the side of my face next to my ear. I told her it was ‘just a spot and not to worry’. She ignored me (just like I had ignored her pleas for me to wear sunscreen) and took a photo insisting it looked suspicious.

Ten days later it had tripled in size and I was ordered straight to my GP and then referred onto a 2 week wait appointment at Derby Hospital. After a minor operation to have it removed and biopsied, the results came back as a Squamous Cell Carcinoma (SCC) a non-melanoma skin cancer.

A SCC, just like other forms of skin cancer is mainly due to too much exposure to UV light. This causes the DNA of skin cells in the outer layer of the skin to change. Sometimes this causes the skin cells to grow out of control and develop into an SCC.

Although this is a low risk skin cancer and can be cured, SCC can recur locally and/or spread to the lymph nodes and from there into other parts of the body. Although I was lucky to catch it early, for the next 3 years, my skin and my lymph nodes have to be checked regularly, and that is a continued stress and reminder that this situation was preventable.

What I have learned
I thought ‘cancer’ happened to other people, but I now know more about the huge risks, I kick myself for not listening to my wife, and simply creating a set of good habits, looking after my skin.

My new routine
With the gift of hindsight, I now never forget to use sun protection.

My advice
If you play or work in golf and think sun protection is for others, please think again. No matter what your age or your type, remember to cover up before you get out on the course and always re-apply.

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David Barker

A Golfer Like Me

David Barker

About me
I have been a member of Barrow Golf Club for 47 years. The course overlooks the Irish Sea and although it’s beautiful, it’s exposed to all the elements. You can go out to play on a sunny day, however, due to the prevailing and fairly consistent breeze, it never feels particularly warm. This gives you the false impression that sun protection is not necessary, and this is why I regularly ended up with a sunburn, and as a result of that, skin cancer.

I am retired and, weather permitting, play golf four times a week. I always wear a hat as I’m “a bit thin on top” but I always pushed the brim of the hat up so that my face would get ‘nice and brown all over’. In hindsight this was just stupid, but it seemed like a good idea at the time.

I always applied sunscreen on my arms and legs when exposed but, for some strange reason, never on my face. To be honest, I had a lot to do with wanting a tan and the attitude, ‘it will never happen to me’. Unfortunately, I now know that it can.

My experience
I noticed a blemish on the end of my nose but didn’t think much of it for a few weeks, although it never faded, and in fact grew a little. Eventually, I became concerned, and went to my doctor who took a biopsy, after which it was confirmed that I had basal cell carcinoma.

A few weeks later I had a hospital appointment for it to be removed and for a skin graft to cover where the cancer had been removed. Sadly, the graft never took and I will now have a scar on the end of my nose. My advice Never push up the brim of your hat and ALWAYS wear a high factor sunscreen. My scar is a reminder of that worrying and regretful diagnosis. I never want to go through that operation again and want to inspire others to change their attitudes to sun protection.

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Alan Clavering

A Golfer Like Me

Alan Clavering

Getting a cancer diagnosis at 65 was a dreadful shock and the treatment was traumatic. There is no ‘just’ in skin cancer.

My experience
The first operation removed a growth from my nose, with a skin graft taken from my shoulder. A later biopsy revealed this had not removed all the cancer cells and I had to immediately return to hospital for further treatment.

A second operation included a ‘forehead flap’ procedure, where an incision is made from adjacent to the skin cancer site up to the forehead, and the portion of skin is then folded back over the newly incised cancer site. Believe me, it wasn’t pretty.

This ‘folded flap’ stayed in place for around three weeks until it grew into its new position and the blood vessels and nerves settled. I was in and out of hospital for some weeks during this treatment for check-ups and dressing changes. After this, three years of regular hospital appointments followed, and my GP insisted on seeing me on a regular basis for another two years.

What I have learned
I am now 76 and still love a round of golf and I count my blessings every day. If it wasn’t for the swift actions and brilliant work of the doctors, nurses and all staff at the NHS, the outcome could have been very different. By simply being sensible and using sun protection I could have avoided all of this, but hindsight is a powerful thing, isn’t it?

My new routine
My surgeon has insisted that moving forward I wear a hat covering both the top of my head and my ears and to apply SPF50 sunscreen on all exposed skin areas; which I do every day, summer and winter.

My advice
Please read my story and make up your own mind, but please remember to slip, slap swing!

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Phillip Korn

A Golfer Like Me

Phillip Korn

About me
I am 71 and have always enjoyed an active, outdoor life playing a variety sports over the past few decades.Golf has been my passion for the last 40 years having, played 5 of those in South Africa where the temperature in summer can be in high 30’s.

Although the heat was intense, I never wore a hat or put on sunscreen, a bad habit I took from here in the UK. The only occasion I put sunscreen on my face or body was when going on holiday with my wife, probably because I couldn’t get away with not wearing it, as she always insisted I apply it.

My experience
At the end of last year, I was playing golf at the club when an oncologist friend of mine noticed that I had a growth on my forehead, which I admit to picking the skin off every now and again, and would occasionally bleed. He suggested I go to see my GP because he thought it might be cancerous.

On seeing my GP, I was referred to our local hospital who on inspection said that the growth either needed a biopsy to confirm what it was or have it totally removed. I opted for latter and had the growth removed in January this year. The results came back that it was a basal cell carcinoma, a non-melanoma type of skin cancer.

My new routine
Thankfully no further treatment was needed but I was advised to wear a hat and sun protection at all times when playing any sports. Needless to say, that advice is something that I took on board and have now adopted as a new, healthy habit.

My advice
Ironically, I give health and safety advice to my golf club and should have known better, but it’s strange how you tend overlook your own health. I now tell my fellow members that when going out to play, wear a hat, take plenty to drink and regularly apply sunscreen. Don’t take a chance and be silly enough to think cancer couldn’t happen to you, after all, it happened to a golfer like me.

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Sally Crosland

A Golfer Like Me

Sally Crosland

My experience
My story goes back to 1992 when I was 32 years old. I was aware that a mole on my stomach had started to change. It was a different shape and darker in colour with an uneven edge. It was also a little itchy and flaky.

Foolishly I didn’t act straight away, however not long after I was watching a feature on skin cancer on ITV This Morning. I immediately realised that what they were showing looked exactly the same as the mole on my stomach. I made an appointment with my GP and I was immediately referred to a skin specialist. He didn’t think it was anything sinister, but took a biopsy to be sure.

It turned out it was sinister. It was melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer, and I had surgery to remove it. I also had a larger area removed to ensure the rest of the area was clear, which it was. The surgeon told me I was very lucky that we had caught it early as without treatment it would have been fatal. Melanoma can spread to your organs via your lymph nodes, and from there on, it’s very hard to treat. I was monitored for five years and thankfully I am still here to tell the tale.

What I have learned
I have had two further procedures one for a basal cell carcinoma – a form of non-melanoma skin cancer – on my chest so I am always very careful in the sun and now highly aware of my very fair skin.

My new routine
This hasn’t prevented me from playing golf, but it has certainly changed the way I play. I tee off in the morning before it gets to hot, making sure I am wearing sunscreen before going out. I put my umbrella up to have some shade if waiting around for a shot. I am also always the one that sits in the shade on the balcony watching the other golfers finish their round.

My advice
Protecting your skin from the sun is just sensible behaviour and a habit we should all adopt. Unfortunately, too few golfers understand the risks and if they do, they underestimate them, which is the very reason I’m telling my story.

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Owen Scott Reid

A Golfer Like Me

Owen Scott Reid

About me
I’m a keen ‘once a week’ golfer, and enjoy nothing more than playing off 8 at my local club. I have had my own gardening business for over 20 years, and am what you would call an ‘outdoor kind of person’.

I am pretty good when it comes to sun protection; it’s just a habit I have taken on, which many of my generation have not. I always use sunscreen and wear a wide brimmed hat when mowing and an umbrella for shade when weeding. When playing golf, I apply sunscreen before and during play, and bring out the umbrella when waiting for my turn, which I do get ribbed about!

My experience

In 2015 I remember having what appeared to be a spot, which for six months just wouldn’t clear up. I thought this was rather odd and with my interest piqued, I went to my GP who suggested that I visit a skin specialist at my local hospital. Before booking the appointment, she asked me to remove my shirt, and to my surprise she found another, similar lesion between my shoulder blades.

One week later, I was seen at Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, which lucky for me is renowned for its excellence in cancer treatment and research. I was seen by a great surgeon and was surprised to find out it was Basal Cell Carcinoma; a type of skin cancer.

Although the operation was uncomplicated, it was not what I imagined, being a lot more invasive. Adding to that, two weeks later they needed to take more out from my back, which was something I needed to really prepare myself for.

After these two operations, the long-term outcome for this area is good, however I am just about to have a fourth surgery, this time underneath my eye. I have been told that my skin is very susceptible to UV light and although my habits did not completely save my skin, they will have most certainly prevented a worse outcome.

What I have learned
We are all taking risks if don’t sun protect, because how well do we all really know our skin and its vulnerabilities, until something like this happens? In addition, knowing the diagnostic signs of skin cancer is important, as early detection is so vital.

My new routine
I continue to protect my skin every day, rain or shine, and will continue doing so. My children (fully grown adults now) worry about me, so I do what I can to minimise that, and also eliminate the chances of going back to hospital.

My advice
Get to know your skin and wise up on skin cancer. If you find something odd or worrying, trust your instincts and get it checked by your GP immediately.

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