Nature

My tanning addiction left a hole in my head


A mother-of-three in London revealed on Wednesday she had a hole in the top of her head as well as skin cancer caused by her addiction to a tanning bed.

Nickie Murtagh – who started going to a tanning salon when she was in her twenties – used to visit the tanning bed at least twice a week. But she first noticed something was wrong in 2016 when she noticed a patch in the part of her hair that wasn’t healing, according to Jam Press.

“I consulted my GP [general practitioner] twice and I was told both times it was a cosmetic issue and it was just a cyst,” the 37-year-old said.

“They said if I wanted to take it off it would be by private appointment.”

However, his condition did not improve. By February 2018, the lump had grown, but the doctor insisted it was a cyst.

Murtagh visited a dermatologist who immediately raised his concerns and performed a biopsy. In May, it was revealed that the “cyst” was actually a skin cancer called melasma, which is characterized by brown or blue-gray spots or freckles on the face.

Nickie Murtagh (2nd from left) and her husband did not tell their children that their mother had cancer.
Jam Press/Nickie Murtagh
Several of Murtagh's doctors insisted the injury was cosmetic and would heal.
Several of Murtagh’s doctors insisted the injury was cosmetic and would heal.
Jam Press/Nickie Murtagh
Nickie Murtagh first realized there was a problem when the "cyst" would not heal.
Nickie Murtagh first realized there was a problem when the ‘cyst’ was not healing.

“I work at the Royal Marsden Hospital so I’ve seen a lot of cancers but that word sends shivers down the spine,” Murtagh said.

“We didn’t even want to tell the kids, because we knew they couldn’t see the past of that word.”

In December of the same year, Murtagh successfully removed the growth and received a skin graft.

Nickie Murtagh has been diagnosed with a skin cancer called Melasma.
Nickie Murtagh was diagnosed with skin cancer called melasma.
Jam Press/Nickie Murtagh

“I was awake the whole process and it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” Murtagh lamented.

Doctors managed to remove the cancer and attempted to repair the damage to her face and hair. However, Murtagh is still not symptom-free. Every time she goes out in the sun, the spots reappear.

“I don’t like how I look now – but these are my battle scars and a forever reminder that I have my life, so I will do whatever I can to help push this horrible cancer awareness .”

Due to her condition, Nickie Murtagh will have discolored skin and the condition will return whenever she is exposed to the sun.
Due to her condition, Nickie Murtagh will have discolored skin and the condition will return whenever she is exposed to the sun.
Jam Press Vid / Nickie Murtagh

Murtagh has documented her journey on TikTok in an effort to raise skin cancer awareness with several of her followers calling her brave.

“You are amazing girly, thank you for posting this really eye opening video. I’m throwing away my suntan lotion and giving up now,” one user commented.

“I was literally thinking how pale I am and I’ve never used a bouncer but wanted, thanks for changing my mind!” says another.

Murtagh has also faced backlash over her videos, with some people calling her conceited and reminding her that what happened was her fault.

“Some people remind me that I did this to myself, that I’m vain and that I deserve it,” Murtagh said.

“I’m lucky to only have scars and still have my life, so I’m going to use it as best I can to save people’s skin and lives.”

New York Post

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