When Jayne Hobbs just wanted to be pampered she went for a beauty treatment – but the simple facial saved her life.
Her skincare therapist Erika Hodgkiss spotted that a mole on Mrs Hobbs’s chest had turned cancerous and urged her to have it checked by a doctor.
After discovering it was a melanoma – an aggressive form of skin cancer and then having surgery, Mrs Hobbs, 44, said: ‘It’s hard to imagine what could have happened if I hadn’t gone for a facial with Erika, but I know I might not be sitting here today.’
The mother-of-three had ignored the mole for months, even though it had darkened – which is one of the danger signs.
Mrs Hodgkiss is one of a growing army of skincare therapists, hairdressers, therapists chiropodists, masseurs, chiropractors and even dentists who have signed up for training to improve Britain’s survival rates by detecting skin cancer.
The cancer charity Skcin has trained nearly 10,000 beauty professionals to recognise the disease since it set up its melanoma and skin cancer early detection online training course last year.
The scheme, which Skcin hopes will save hundreds of lives annually, was inspired by the fact that more people have their skin examined regularly by a skincare therapist or hairdresser than by their GP.
Within just eight months of completing the training, Mrs Hodgkiss has identified several suspicious moles and has helped to save the life of Mrs Hobbs and two other women, all of whom had surgery to remove melanoma tumours.
Hodgkiss, who specialises in facials at her salon, took the course because some clients would ask questions about their skin that she couldn’t answer.
But she said she was shocked by the number of suspected skin cancer cases she began noticing, adding: ‘I just can’t believe how many people I have seen with something unusual on their skin in just a few months. Sometimes they have no idea because the mark is on their back, but most of the time they are aware it is there but say, “Oh that’s nothing, it’s just a mole”.
‘ Luckily the three women who were diagnosed with melanoma have come out the other side, but it’s scary to think it would have spread if I hadn’t spotted it. If I hadn’t seen them for a facial, they wouldn’t have known they had cancer.’
Mrs Hobbs noticed the mole was darker than normal while she was on holiday in August, but dismissed it, thinking it was caused by tanning.
‘If I hadn’t had that facial, if Erika hadn’t seen the mole, if she hadn’t been on the course, I don’t know what would have happened. I’m so lucky all those things came together in time.’