How a workplace skin check uncovered a hidden threat
A 15 minute skin check at work for Bupa team member, Louise McKechnie, uncovered a spot on her back that contained pre melanoma cells. She’s now starting conversations, urging us all to get checked.
I work at Bupa and one day while in the office, I was told free preventative skin checks were on offer. I thought I'd seize the opportunity and go and have one done. When I did, the nurse identified a small sort of spot on my back and recommended that I go to a dermatologist and have it checked out. At that appointment the dermatologist also expressed concerns about it and recommended I have it removed.
I am so glad I did, because the pathology later confirmed that the spot actually had pre-melanoma cells. These abnormal cells are often referred to as "precancerous" or "dysplastic" melanocytes. Detecting and treating these early-stage changes is crucial in preventing the progression to full-blown melanoma.
The spot in question wasn’t anything to cause alarm to me. It wasn’t raised, red or itchy. I would have put it down to just any other freckle, but it was actually slightly larger with some uneven edges. It goes to show that it takes an expert eye to assess your skin properly.
I sadly lost one of my cousins to melanoma, at a young age, but this spot still came as a surprise to me. It was on my back, so I didn’t really know it was there and never would have found it myself. It came as a surprise and I admit that I was quite blasé about it, like “it'll be fine”, but the results were eye opening.
I was quite blasé about it, like “it'll be fine”, but the results were eye opening.
I have a nursing background, so I've always been conscious of preventative health and strongly believe that prevention is so much better than cure. So, when the dermatologist suggested that we initially take a scraping and then excise the area, I was very open to that. In fact, I believe that early action potentially saved my life.
Anybody who's thinking about getting a skin check or perhaps you haven't even thought about it, like the Nike ad, I would say: just do it. As a busy mother of two boys, finding time to squeeze in a skin check admittedly would have been low down on my ‘to-do’ list. But gosh, it took 15 minutes, and it was potentially lifesaving.
it took 15 minutes and it was potentially lifesaving.
I have a pretty decent scar to show for it, but it's a battle wound that I'm very happy to have. If it helps start a conversation and encourages someone else to get checked, then that’s a win. I think it shows that skin cancer is far more prevalent than I think people realise and how vital regular skin checks are.