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When she was 20 weeks pregnant, mum-of-two, Claire Chisnall, from Coventry, West Midlands, was told by medics that an itchy mole on her leg was a deadly form of skin cancer known as melanoma.
She had previously used sunbeds and avoided wearing sun cream on holidays in a bid to get a tan. Now, the 39-year-old is urging others to take care of their skin in the sun after being left in fear for her life.
Claire had been wearing nylon trousers at work and had felt an itch which she had assumed was a small leg hair that was getting caught.
"I kept feeling a sort of itch in the same place, so one day I just thought I'd check and just see if there was anything there," she said.
"When I looked I realised I had a mole. It was about 5mm wide and it was darker than my others. I knew that itchiness was a bad sign when it came to moles.
"I was around 20 weeks pregnant and I had a doctor's appointment booked as I was suffering from really bad morning sickness. So I thought I'd just mention the mole as a sort of secondary problem. I didn't think much of it at first."
She was referred to a dermatologist who checked her mole and the results came back one week later. When she walked into the room to receive her results there was a Macmillan nurse sat waiting for her.
Claire added: "My stomach dropped and I knew instantly that they were going to give me bad news as soon as I saw the Macmillan nurse sitting there in the room too.
"They told me that they had found melanoma and I was going to need surgery to remove it.
"I don't think the news really registered with me until I started [to hear] more about it. That's when the anxiety hit and I was in fear for my life.
"It consumed me. I had also lost my mother-in-law to melanoma. So I knew first-hand just how deadly this could be.
"I also worried about how this could affect my unborn baby. I was panicking that he and my eldest son, Blake, now three, were going to grow up without their [mum]. It was terrifying."
Claire had to wait until she had given birth to her son, Cody, now one, for her placenta to be checked to see if it had spread to her baby.
She had to wait an additional 10 weeks for the results.
Claire added: "It was awful having to wait such a long time to find out whether it had affected Cody. This added even more to my anxiety.
"But luckily it had not spread to him. I was so happy to find that out.
"Skin cancer isn't just a case of getting it removed and then everything will be fine. It can kill you and it's serious.
"I would urge anyone who feels like they need a tan to just wear fake tan or get a spray tan. It's not worth the danger."
Previously Claire would use sunbeds and cover herself in tanning oil or extremely low factor creams in order to achieve a tan but instead would burn her skin.
Since finding the cancerous mole, Claire doesn't leave the house without applying factor 50 sun cream on her skin.
"I now always have a high factor sun cream with me, I even have some in my car for when I am driving. It is so important.
"The SPF in makeup is also not enough to protect you, we need to be wearing higher factors under our makeup too.
"After discovering my mole, I pretty much spent a year as a vampire as I was so terrified of the sun. But I have now learnt how to protect myself and my family properly.
"Skin cancer is preventable if we just make sure we are being careful with sun exposure.
"It is not worth risking your life for a lovely suntan, I have learnt this the hard way.
"But I am just so grateful that I am here and able to watch my kids grow up."
For help, guidance and information about melanoma skin cancer, please visit the NHS website here.
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