A mum has urged others to keep slathering on the suncream in a heartbreaking diary of her experience with melanoma.
39-year-old Bethany Gambardella-Greenway from Austin, Texas, was initially told the dark spot that developed on her forehead during her second pregnancy was a liver spot, and advised not to worry about it.
But when it became a painful mole 18 months later, a biopsy revealed that she was actually suffering from an aggressive and rare form of skin cancer called desmoplastic melanoma.
Bethany has documented her treatment and recovery by uploading daily photographs to her Facebook page, with heartfelt captions explaining what she was going through at the time.
Peeling bacon I’m pretty convinced bacon is peeling. I cannot bring myself to test this theory by tugging on it. I’m so scared the entire thing will fall off my head and I’ll be left with bare skull…
She first noticed a small black spot in 2015, but it wasn’t until 2016 that the mole was removed and a skin graft was taken from her thigh.
During the procedure, doctors tragically learned that the cancer had spread to her bone and lymph nodes, and she begun immunotherapy and 30 rounds of radiation therapy in October of that year.
Now the skin graft is nearly healed and Bethany has had the all clear.
‘I wasn’t surprised by the diagnosis because my mother had melanoma at my age,’ she said. ‘I live in Texas where you have to put on sunscreen every day, I try to be careful, but I also have fair skin and I am ginger.’
‘When I burn I turn into a lobster and I don’t know a summer where I’ve not burned once.’
Swelling I can’t help but make a totally ridiculous face when my face is so much not my own. Silliness aside, my head hurt, this whole thing was not merely skin deep. Sponge Bob was doing his job…
She continued: ‘I have been disfigured by this destructive cancer. I lost the muscle on half my forehead and my left eyebrow almost completely – save for like two tiny stray hairs. It’s really rare – very destructive, usually only occurs with only men in their seventies. It’s very rare for a younger female to get this.’
Bethany has also expressed fears that her children will also be susceptible to the disease, uploading an emotional post during a recent family holiday.
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‘I’m afraid of spending the day in the sun,’ she said.
‘I’m scared of burning. With my skin currently undergoing refurbishment on my face and neck I’m super sensitive to the sun. Most sun exposure hurts with or without sunscreen. I’m nervous for my girls. I’m scared of them getting a burn and that being a slippery slope of burn after burn.’