Monday, 4th June 2018 | General | 0 comments

After spending 15 years in and out of hospital with skin cancer, Karen Byrne is passionate about helping charity North West Cancer Research (NWCR) raise awareness of the disease.

Karen Byrne, 45, from Lancaster, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma (a form of skin cancer) in 2003, after noticing a tiny black mole on her lower leg.

It was only after briefly mentioning it during a visit to her GP with her son who had chickenpox, that she was called back in for a biopsy, which later revealed it was malignant melanoma.

Very shortly afterwards Karen underwent surgery at Royal Preston Hospital to remove part of the skin and muscle on her lower leg and the extent of her treatment meant she couldn’t put her foot down for nine weeks.

Karen has since had two further malignant melanomas removed, one from her back and one from her leg on the line of the scar where the original mole had been removed. She has had an estimated 30 further moles removed as a precaution, from her legs, arms, face and back, and continues to have regular check-ups with her GP.

She said: “Being told that I had skin cancer when I was only 30 and then spending the last 15 years in and out of hospital has been really difficult but I have been lucky enough to receive, and continue to receive, expert treatment and advice from the Royal Lancaster Infirmary and Royal Preston Hospital.

“Skin cancer is a particularly scary form of cancer as it can appear anywhere on your body and spread quickly if left untreated, and this is something I have been trying to highlight to my friends and family.

“Since my diagnosis, I encouraged my father to have his moles examined by his GP and he was diagnosed with two malignant melanoma which were quickly removed from his chest. This shows how important it is that we are aware of what to look for and regularly check our skin.”

Following her diagnosis Karen decided to swap her job on the front desk at a police station to become a personal trainer, something she had always wanted to do.

She now owns her own company, Bowerham ABC Boxing and Fitness, with her husband Arthur, where they train all ages, levels and abilities. The couple take any opportunity to raise awareness of the disease and promote sun safety at the gym, as well as raise money for cancer research.

Karen and Arthur will support North West Cancer Research’s #suncreamselfie campaign this summer to help raise awareness of skin cancer, its symptoms and the importance of sun protection.

Karen added: “Skin cancer is one of the biggest cancer killers in the North West and having had it myself, I know how lifechanging the disease can be. There are lots of factors which can cause it, some of which are preventable. In my case, I wasn’t a regular user of sunbeds and I had only burnt occasionally when I was younger, but my fair skin meant that I was more susceptible to the disease.

“Being more aware of the measures we can take to protect ourselves from getting skin cancer is really important, especially in the UK, which is why we’ll be slapping on the sun cream this summer, sharing our selfies and encouraging our friends and families to do the same.”

To support Karen and North West Cancer Research and take your very own #suncreamselfie visit the campaign page online.


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