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

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

A BBC reporter tells how her skin cancer was initially mistaken for a less serious condition.

Last week, Sarah Lee shared a message 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, a hat, stay in the shade and check your moles,” Lee, 29, tweeted on Friday alongside her BBC article about his cancer journey.

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

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

Never miss a story – sign up PEOPLE’s free daily newsletter to keep up with the best of what PEOPLE has to offer, from juicy celebrity news to compelling human interest stories.

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

RELATED: Woman diagnosed with rare form of skin cancer after being told she had an STD: ‘I knew I had cancer’

Still feeling uncomfortable, Lee said she sought out a second dermatologist, who ordered immediate removal of the mole for a biopsy.

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

The cancer, Lee added, had spread to his skull. “When the nurse told me the news over the phone, I was so shocked I almost collapsed,” she wrote in her BBC piece. “I wasn’t a sunbed user, I used factor 30 sun cream and I grew up in Wales where it almost always rains.”

After undergoing several CT scans, MRIs and PET scans, Lee learned that the cancer had also spread to a lymph node in her neck. To treat the disease, he needed a radical dissection, which, according to the National Cancer Institute, is surgery that removes lymph nodes and tissue.

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

You want to get the biggest stories PEOPLE every working day? Subscribe to our new podcastPEOPLE Every Day, for essential celebrity, entertainment and human interest news Monday through Friday.

However, she still has to undergo a 12-month treatment plan, using specific drugs to block the growth of the cancer to prevent the melanoma from returning.

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

RELATED VIDEO: Meet the ER nurse who ran this year’s Iditarod in honor of her cancer patient

Concluding her post, Lee wrote about “the toll 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 that the cancer will come back and I’m angry that it could have been caught earlier.”

However, she noted that she has “gained a great deal of strength”, calling the news of her cancer a “terrifying surprise”.

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

Lee also asked readers to take care of their skin “and push for a second, third or fourth opinion if necessary.”

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Sarah Lee was diagnosed with stage three malignant melanoma

Courtesy of Sarah Lee

Speaking with PEOPLE, Lee further reiterated the importance of keeping skin healthy by controlling time in the sun.

“What I think people don’t really understand is that any kind of tanning is unhealthy. Any change in skin color due to the sun is skin damage that increases the risk of skin cancer,” she says. “If left untreated, this can spread to vital organs and be much more difficult to treat. It’s really not worth it.”

Lee also shut down misconceptions about skin cancer, saying, “A lot of people also think that melanoma is just a case of just cutting out a mole, and believe me, I wish that was all there was to it. fact. People look at skin cancer as the nicest or minor cancer, but when it gets to your organs it can spread like wildfire. It can hide and lie dormant and come back years later.”

“That’s why I will always live in fear that it will return. I will always be anxious for the sun and for every result of the exploration,” he adds. “Melanoma has completely changed me and I just don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”

Leave a Reply