A mother helped save her 21-year-old daughter’s life after noticing a changing mole on her chest. Darcy had the mole for her whole life, meaning she wouldn’t have otherwise been concerned about it.
But when she came back home to Salford from university, her mother noticed that the shape of the mole had changed.
Darcy told the Manchester Evening News: “She said to me, ‘that mole looks a bit different,’ and then maybe six months later, she said it again and suggested I get it checked out.”
The 21-year-old went to her local GP to get the mole checked, where she was told there was nothing to worry about.
But a few months later, Darcy was still concerned. During an appointment with a nurse for another health issue, she asked about her mole again.
The nurse spoke about the ABCDEs of moles — A for Asymmetry, B for Border, C for Color, D for Diameter, and E for Evolving.
The mole met multiple parts of this ABCDE criteria, so the nurse referred Darcy to a specialist.
Darcy added: “It’s all the signs that you should look out for in a mole. She just got that up on a computer and checked off the kind of things they look for if they’re going to do a referral.”
In February 2020, Darcy was finally diagnosed with skin cancer.
Recalling this horrifying moment, she said: “I remember the doctor during my diagnosis appointment said, ‘we’re really sorry, but it’s melanoma’.
“I’d never heard of melanoma before, so I didn’t know what he meant.
“I didn’t panic and asked what is that, then I heard the word cancer, I was like ‘right…’, and then that was it and I just couldn’t take in anything else he was saying after that.
“I felt a bit numb.”
Darcy added that doctors were shocked she had skin cancer given how young she is.
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She continued: “At the hospital where I was first diagnosed, I was the youngest skin cancer patient they’d had at 21 and they really didn’t think it was going to be anything.
“They were just as shocked as I was because, you know, I told them that I’d never had any bad sunburns. I’ve never been in a tanning bed, I do have the typical skin type that does have a lot of moles and has to be a bit more aware of their moles.
“Other than that, I don’t feel like I’d put myself at any kind of further risk of getting skin cancer”.
Darcey was supported by the Teenage Cancer Trust throughout her diagnosis and treatment.
She had surgery to remove the cancer, and then returned for a second procedure to remove the area around the mole to make sure it was dealt with.
“I haven’t had any further treatment other than that, it was just a lot of scans to kind of make sure it hadn’t spread anywhere. It’s just all about monitoring now and checking my skin all the time.”
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Darcy, now a teacher, is trying to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms associated with skin cancer.
She said: “I’ve talked to all the children about the common signs and symptoms of cancer, about sun safety, about why they get the HPV vaccine to protect against cervical cancer and things like that.
Darcy added that, initially, she was “really worried” about everything on her body, but three years on from her diagnosis she has “finally kind of got past that.”
She concluded: “I still check myself every month like I should but it’s not in my thoughts all the time.”
Research by the Teenage Cancer Trust has found that less than half of 18 to 24-year-olds are able to identify any of the five main symptoms of cancer in young people.
Younger people should look out for lumps, bumps or swellings, unexplained tiredness, mole changes, persistent pain, and significant weight changes.
Darcy said that, after her cancer scare, she has a new outlook on life.
She said: “I’ve got a completely different outlook on life to be fair and I think and a lot changed from having my diagnosis and it just made me look at things a lot differently.
“I changed jobs not long after my diagnosis because I realized I wanted to be doing something different and more rewarding, which is why I ended up becoming a teacher.”