Six signs you should see a GP about skin cancer

Six signs you should see a GP about skin cancer

A landscape gardener who spent eight hours a day working outdoors and ‘never bothered to use sunscreen’ has warned others to get used to the sun after waking up to find a lump under his arm the size of a tennis ball that turned out to be a cancerous tumor.

Shane McCormick, 47, who now works as a manager in the gardening sector, was initially diagnosed with skin cancer in 2017 after having a mole removed, but thought he was in the clear until, two years later, he come back suddenly and spread to the lymph nodes. .

Undergoing surgery and immunotherapy, he is now raising awareness about the dangers of working outdoors without sun protection.

Shane was pictured here with his wife and children. (Collection/PA Real Life)

Shane, who lives in Southampton with his hairdresser wife Denise, 50, and their two children, teacher Jack, 24, and building trades worker Molly, 20, said: “ I was a landscape gardener for 13 years and never worried about using sunscreen or staying in the shade.

“I wore a t-shirt and shorts most days and if it was a warm day I would take my top off. I think most industries that work outside are like that.

“I guess looking back, I was ignorant of the possibilities and consequences of being in the sun all day every day.”



I wasn’t interested in having conversations about the dangers of sun exposure.

Shane McCormick

But it was in April 2017 that Shane paid a visit to the doctor after discovering a new mole on his back.

He said: “I had switched roles about eight years before, but the damage from 13 years of working outside without sun protection had already been done.

“I got a mole on my back and a freckle on my face and to be honest I was more worried about how I looked than thinking it was anything serious.”

Sunspots can be harmless, but marks that grow larger, change shape, change color, itch, bleed or develop a crusty surface should be checked by a GP.

Shane, pictured here on the far right, worked outside as a landscape gardener for 13 years. (Collection/PA Real Life)

She added: “So when I went to the doctor, it was to see if I could get the freckle off my face.”

But once there, Shane’s GP was concerned about the mole on his back.

Shane said: “I was referred to Winchester Hospital where the mole was removed in a biopsy.

“It was just before the May bank holiday weekend in 2017 that I was asked to come in to collect my results.”

Shane and Denise were due to leave for the weekend and stopped at the hospital on their way to Woolacombe to hear the news.

Shane said: “I didn’t really expect it to be anything serious. We didn’t even tell the kids because we thought it was nothing.

“But when we arrived, a doctor took us to a private room and explained that he had skin cancer. I was so surprised. It was a lot to digest.”

Shane’s GP was concerned about the mole on his back. (Collection/PA Real Life)

When further tests revealed the cancer had been removed during the biopsy, Shane says he breathed a sigh of relief.

He said: “Then I went to a dermatologist and at first sight of my back they said ‘wow, you’ve seen a lot of sun’.

“It was embarrassing for me because I hadn’t realized it would be so obvious. It was at that moment I realized that my skin was quite damaged.”



I was ignorant of the possibilities and consequences of being in the sun all day every day.

Shane McCormick

She added: “It was a wake-up call to me that I needed to protect my skin from the sun and immediately after my diagnosis I started using sunscreen regularly.

“It was all very simple and I didn’t need any additional treatment, so I felt like I had a lucky escape.

“I had two years after that to think everything was fine.”

Shane was first diagnosed with skin cancer in 2017. (Collect/PA Real Life)

But in November 2019, Shane says he woke up one morning to find a lump under his right arm.

He said: “I remember having a busy weekend, meeting clients in London on the Friday and then watching the rugby on the Saturday.

“On Sunday morning, I woke up to find that a lump the size of a tennis ball had appeared overnight under my arm.



The world just fell down around me.

Shane McCormick

She added: “I think I was in denial because I fired him and even went to work the next day. But I couldn’t shake the nagging thought so I left work and went straight to the Southampton General Hospital.

At the hospital, Shane underwent tests and was asked to return when the results were ready.

He said: “It was on December 23 that I was asked to come back.”

Shane had his mole removed during a biopsy in 2017. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He added: “My wife and I were sitting nervously in the waiting room when they called my name. They said the lump was a tumor and the cancer had returned. It had spread to my lymph nodes.

“The world just came crashing down around me. One minute I thought everything was great and wonderful, the next minute I find out the cancer has spread and I’m going to need an operation.”

Shane’s surgery to remove the cancerous tumor was scheduled for the first week of January 2020.



During the last few heat waves, I wore long-sleeved shirts, sat under umbrellas, and was slathered in 50-factor sunscreen.

Shane McCormick

He said: “To say it was a tough Christmas is an understatement. I just wanted to get the surgery over with and be done.

“During the operation, they also removed 24 lymph nodes, as well as the tumor.”

But Shane says the results of the procedure were positive.

Shane underwent immunotherapy after discovering his cancer had spread in 2019. (Collect/PA Real Life)

He said: “I feel very lucky. Everything went well after the operation and once I recovered I went through immunotherapy in March 2020.

“Since then, I’ve had the all-clear that it was incredible.”

Shane now wears a lymphedema sleeve on his right arm where his lymph nodes were removed, which puts pressure on his limb for lymph to flow, and he can’t sit in the sun.

He said: “I have to be very careful. During the last few heat waves, I wore long-sleeved shirts, sat under umbrellas and was covered in factor 50 sun cream.

“Gone are the days of working topless in the garden.”

A national survey by Melanoma UK and builders’ merchant Jewson has found that up to 60 per cent of UK tradesmen who work outdoors are not checking their skin for signs of cancer, despite the increased risk .

Shane has since had the all clear. (Collection/PA Real Life)

The new research, which surveyed more than 2,000 tradespeople in the UK, also found that more than 30 per cent of construction workers do not use sun protection on site.

Jewson have now launched their ‘Hard Hat Your Skin’ campaign which sees them wearing sunscreen in all their branches.

Shane hopes to raise awareness of the risk of skin cancer for outdoor workers, saying: “Twenty years ago, there wasn’t much talk about skin cancer in the workplace and I personally wasn’t interested in having conversations about the dangers of the sun. exposure.”



I was a landscape gardener for 13 years and never worried about using sunscreen or staying in the shade.

Shane McCormick

He added: “I hope this is changing, traders need to take these risks seriously.

“Sunscreen should be part of essential PPE for builders and outdoor tradespeople.

“I want people to be aware of the signs to look out for so other people don’t face the same diagnosis I did.”

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