Christchurch resident Alyssa Sherriff was 27 years old, and newly pregnant with her second child Louis, when she found out last year that she had a melanoma on her face.
“My mother had noticed the mole on my face was looking more prominent before Christmas the year before. At about the same time, I also went to my GP with my older son Lachie about something completely different, and my doctor pointed it out to me as well and said she thought it needed to be taken out.“
But with Christmas coming up, it was a busy time of the year, and once I found out I was pregnant with Louis, I just put it off. However, when I went to the doctor again in early March, she compared the mole on my face with a photo that had been taken at my last visit and said that it had grown and it really did need to be removed and tested.“
At that point I decided I did need to do something about it, and so I had it removed. I was pretty shocked when it came back as a melanoma. I lost my cousin to melanoma about 11 years ago when he was only 23.
“It was pretty scary as my melanoma was almost in exactly the same place as his. I was diagnosed with a Stage 1 melanoma and was just so lucky that it hadn’t spread any further. My cousin’s melanoma moved pretty fast, and it was dreadful when he died. I was told by my doctor that because I was pregnant, cells can multiply even faster than normal, so I was very fortunate that we got it in time.
“We are a family with a lot of moles on our skin, so I’d always been aware of the risk of developing a melanoma and I do wear sunscreen. I think that because this mole had been there for such a long time, I didn’t really notice it was changing. When I now look back at photos, I can see how much it had actually grown over an 18-month period.“
I now check my moles like crazy, but I didn’t realise the mole on my face was changing and it was right in front of me every day when I was putting on my make-up. I’m sharing my story because I really want to encourage people to make sure they are checking their skin properly for any changes, and also to get a regular skin check by their doctor.