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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