After over 20 years in the pop industry, Atomic Kitten’s Natasha Hamilton needed a new challenge and decided to train as a skincare specialist.
One of the skills she picked up during her training was how to spot the danger signs of skin cancer, and she's now shared those tips with OK!
So when she was giving her mum Maria a facial and noticed an unusual patch of skin on her forehead, it set alarm bells ringing in Natasha’s mind.
“I saw this mark, about half the size of a penny,” recalls Natasha. “It wasn’t a mole, just a slightly raised, dry, scaly patch of skin that looked a little bit sore. I said, ‘Mum, that wasn’t there last time I saw you – how long have you had it?’
“She said it just came and went, and wasn’t causing her any pain or getting in the way of anything.
“I told her I thought she should get it seen to, but each time I saw her, she said it was fine. I finally convinced her to go and see someone, but she was told it was just an area of dry skin.”
Luckily, Natasha wasn’t prepared to just leave things there.
“I noticed over time that the mark seemed to appear and then disappear, and it could look quite sore. Thanks to my training, I knew that wasn’t right – and I had a feeling I knew what it was. I advised her to get a second opinion.”
A referral to a dermatologist revealed it was a basal cell carcinoma, a form of nonmelanoma skin cancer.
Maria was prescribed cream by her doctor to treat precancerous cells all over her face. She then had the original suspicious area on her forehead cut out. Tests have now confirmed that the carcinoma has been completely removed and Maria has been given the all clear.
Mum-of-four Natasha says her mum’s diagnosis has been a wake-up call.
“Seeing her upset and worried was a shock to us all,” she says. “My mum’s from that generation where they’d lie in the sun all day, without any protection. They’d even rub cola on their skin to get a better tan!
“I had a scare myself about seven years ago, with something similar on the side of my face. I thought maybe I’d caught my skin with curling tongs. A dermatologist told me it was OK for now, but if I kept burning it, I could end up with skin cancer within five years.
“I’m a redhead with fair skin but, as a teenager, I’d hit the sunbeds, desperate for a tan and to look ‘healthy and glowing’. Now I slap on the factor 50 sunscreen and make sure my children know how to enjoy the sunshine safely.
“Mum needs to be very careful from now on. She needs to wear factor 50, wear a hat, stay out of the midday sun and sit under a parasol on holiday.
“Just hearing the word cancer is scary, so her diagnosis was traumatic, but I’m so glad she’s through it.”
Natasha is an ambassador for Melanoma UK, promoting awareness and supporting the charity’s National Mole Hunt campaign.
If you become concerned by the appearance of a mole, please contact your GP.
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