BBC reporter, 29, recounts ‘terrifying surprise’ after mole misdiagnosed as skin cancer

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

A BBC reporter explains how her skin cancer was initially mistaken for a less serious illness.

Last week, Sarah Lee shared a post on Twitter about sun exposure, along with an article she wrote highlighting her “terrifying surprise” when she learned she had been diagnosed with skin cancer.

“PLEASE don’t underestimate the damage the sun can do. Wear SPF, hat, stay in the shade and get your moles checked,” Lee, 29, tweeted on Friday. next to her BBC article about her cancer journey.

In her post, Lee detailed that she discovered “a pea-sized black mole” on her scalp one day and visited a dermatologist, who told her the mark “doesn’t hurt.” didn’t look unusual” and that she “was too young to have skin cancer.” She also claimed that the dermatologist told her that it was “almost impossible to have melanoma on the scalp”.

Five months later, the mole had “grown and multiplied,” Lee wrote. She went to see her GP, who told her the spot “was a fungus that would go away on its own”.

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Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

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Still feeling uneasy, Lee said she sought out a second dermatologist, who ordered the mole removed immediately for a biopsy.

A week after the mole was removed, it was replaced by a scar, Lee wrote, and some time later she learned she had stage three malignant nodular melanoma, which is a form of cancer of the faster developing skin, according to the National Health Service.

The cancer, Lee added, had spread to his skull. “When the nurse broke the news to me on the phone, I was so shocked I almost collapsed,” she wrote in her BBC article. “I didn’t use a sunbed, I used factor 30 sunscreen and I grew up in Wales, where it almost always rains.”

After undergoing various CT scans, MRIs and PET scans, Lee learned that the cancer had also spread to a lymph node in his neck. To treat the disease, she needed radical dissection, which the National Cancer Institute says is a surgical procedure that removes lymph nodes and tissue.

After the eight-hour operation, Lee began a “long recovery” – but she no longer has any signs of cancer in her body.

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However, she still has to follow a 12-month treatment plan, using targeted cancer growth inhibiting drugs to prevent the melanoma from coming back.

Noting that “there’s a 75% chance my cancer won’t come back,” Lee detailed some of his side effects from the treatment plan: nausea, vomiting, fever, severe fatigue, and rashes.

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Concluding his post, Lee wrote about “the toll that the diagnosis, numerous surgeries, scans and appointments have taken on my mental health.”

Explaining that she is now “scared” of a doctor’s medical judgment, Lee continued, “I’m terrified the cancer will come back and I’m angry that it could have been spotted sooner.”

She did, however, note that she had “gained enormous strength”, calling the news of her cancer a “terrifying surprise”.

“Having cancer at 29 was a terrifying surprise, but it taught me to laugh harder, live happier, and love bigger,” she said.

Lee also pleaded with readers to take care of themselves “and seek a second, third or fourth opinion if you have to.”

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

Speaking to PEOPLE, Lee further reiterated the importance of keeping your skin healthy by monitoring your time in the sun.

“What I don’t think people really understand is that any type of tan is unhealthy. Any change in skin color from the sun is damage to the skin that increases the risk of skin cancer,” he says. she. “If left untreated, it can spread to your vital organs and be much harder to treat. It really isn’t worth it.”

Lee also put an end to skin cancer misconceptions, saying, “A lot of people also think that melanoma is just cutting out a mole, and believe me, I wish that was it. what I had to do. People see skin cancer as more or less pleasant cancer, but when it reaches your organs it can spread like wildfire. It can hide and stay in sleep and come back years later.

“Because of this, I will always live in fear that it will come back. I will always be worried about the sun and every test result,” she adds. “Melanoma has completely changed me and I just don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”