FOLLOWING last week’s Sun Awareness campaign, a Bolton businesswoman has spoken out about her experiences with cancer.
Charlene Wallis is sharing her personal story about her sudden and life-changing diagnosis in the hope of educating others about the importance of knowing the warning signs.
The mum-of-three is better known in the town as the face behind Diamond Dazzle Hair and Accessories in Bolton Market.
The business has been helping women who are going through cancer treatment by providing wigs and hair pieces for people suffering hair loss as a result of chemotherapy or other medical conditions, such as alopecia.
Charlene is trained to help people choose a style and look after their wig, helping to support many people going through their cancer battle, but this year faced one of her own.
In January doctors found stage one cancer cells following a biopsy of a lump the 27-year-old had been living with for two years.
Although she was later given the all clear, the lump has returned and is fearful that the cancer has not gone for good.
She said: “I would tell anybody to please go their doctor if they find a change in their body. Check your moles, look out for lumps. I lived with mine for two years and if it hadn’t started to itch I would never have gone to a doctor.
“Also make sure you have a life insurance policy in place. I never got time to sort one out, I’m a mum of three and have a business to run, and will not be able to now until I sort out any treatments.
“It’s important to know your body and recognises any changes. Sometimes it will just come out of nowhere.
“Mine was just the same colour as my skin and did not bother me for years but because it was in a sensitive part of my body I did notice changes.
“If it’s on your arm or other part of your body and doesn’t itch or do anything you may not bother to go to the doctors, but you should.”
Charlene, who is mum to Jordan, aged 11, Demi, aged 10, and Alex, aged 5, first approached her doctor at the start of the year when she started to lose sleep and became anxious due to the discomfort caused by the lump.
After pushing for its removal with a gynaecologist, a skin tag was taken and the cancer cells were discovered.
She was given the diagnosis at Royal Oldham Hospital.
“I was told the surgeon and doctors were very surprised to find the cancer cells, apparently it’s quite rare for that to happen,” she explained.
“When I was told I was on my own, all I could think about was my dad who was diagnosed with a terminal melanoma. It was completely different to what I had but I couldn’t help but think of his struggle and it was scary, really scary.
The lump was removed but now Charlene has discovered another lump in her mouth and moles appearing on her back.
She expects to face further treatment but hopes, in the meantime, to use her story to help warn other of the dangers of skin cancer.