4 June 2015
Tony wants to share his story to help prevent other people going through the same thing
With summer just around the corner, Warwickshire resident Tony Wright (MBE) is sharing his story to make people aware of the dangers of skin cancer and urging everyone to stay safe in the sun.
Retired lock keeper Tony, 57, from Atherstone in Warwickshire was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, a form of skin cancer, in 2013 after his wife Theresa noticed a suspicious looking mole on his back.
Tony said: 'I went to see my GP and he took a look at the mole and straight away he was concerned and sent me to hospital for tests. I had the mole removed and checked and was then told I had malignant melanoma. After the mole was removed they did some more tests and found that the cancer had spread. I had further surgery but eventually in February I was given the devastating news that the cancer was terminal, and I was told I had around six months to live.
'I want to share my story because I don’t want other people to go through what we are going through. I’m only 57, I could have had another 20 years but it’s been cut short and maybe it could have been prevented. When I worked on the canal I was always out in the sun with my top off, we didn’t think about sun protection. I drive past guys on building sites now working with their tops off and it makes me angry and sad. I don’t want anyone to end up in the same situation as me when they could be doing something to stop it.'
The number of people developing melanoma is continuing to rise, with around 110,330 people living with malignant melanoma in the UK, and 13,500 people diagnosed every year (around 37 people every day). It is the fifth most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK, and slightly more common in women than in men. It is one of the most common cancers in people aged 15-34 although like most cancers, it’s more common in older people.
Tony has been supported by Louise Watson and Katie Walmsley, Macmillan Skin Cancer Nurse Specialists at University Hospital in Coventry. Tony said: 'They're wonderful, we’d be lost without them. They've been there every step of the way right from when I was first diagnosed. They are there whenever we need to ask questions, they also ring me at home in between appointments to check I am doing ok and find out if there is anything I need.
'Louise was there with me and my wife when I was told there was nothing more they could do. We all shed a tear together, she was a great source of support for us emotionally. They have also helped us to apply for Macmillan grants. I had to retire after my diagnosis and Theresa had to cut her hours so money became tight. The Macmillan grant just helped make life a bit easier for us financially, I can’t thank them enough.'
Louise Watson, Tony's nurse specialist, said: 'It's extremely sad that Tony's cancer is terminal. However, skin cancer, if caught early, is very treatable and actually has one of the highest survival rates of all cancers and being sun aware is key. Our advice is to avoid sun beds, wear a high SPF sun screen with a four-star rating or more, cover up in the sun and where possible stay out of the sun when it’s strongest between 11am and 3pm.'
Macmillan advises to visit your doctor straight away if you have:
- any unusual marks on the skin that last for more than a few weeks
- a mole that tingles or itches
- crusting or bleeding of a mole
- something growing under a nail or a new dark-coloured stripe along part of the nail.
Tony added: 'My main message is to be aware, check yourself and get someone to help you, check each other. If there is anything that looks suspicious or not quite right then go to the doctors straight away and get it checked. The earlier it is caught the better chance you have, don’t hesitate. If I can even save one person then it is worth sharing my story. I can’t emphasise enough, be aware and stay safe in the sun.'
Get more information on melanoma.