Mother left ‘looking like Freddy Krueger’ reveals first skin cancer warning sign

Melissa Lewis, 48, says her own children find it hard to look at her after treatment

Ben Barry
Monday 15 May 2023 11:36 BST
How to spot signs of skin cancer

A woman who says skin cancer treatment has left her looking like Freddy Krueger is urging others to respect the sun.

Melissa Lewis, 48, has been living with skin cancer for more than a decade.

She has annual treatment which gives her skin a pockmarked look, which she has compared to that of Krueger, a fictional killer.

Melissa, from Sydney, Australia, hopes the yearly procedure will keep her cancer at bay.

But she wants to speak out to warn others of the harm sun exposure can do, before it’s too late.

The mum-of-four, a former nurse, said: “When they said I have Bowen’s disease I thought that was it.

“When I looked it up I was like, ‘Oh my god, I am never going to be free’. It is something I have to keep on top of.

“I have treatment once a year. I hate it, it is really stressful as I know my skin will hurt.

“I will have up to 14 days looking like Freddy Krueger, I can’t go out in public.

“I look at my own kids when I have had the treatment and they find it hard to look at me.

“I tell them that this is why you put sunscreen on, this is why you are careful.”

(Melissa Lewis / SWNS)

Melissa first spotted a basal cell carcinoma - a sign of skin cancer - on her leg in 2011.

She has since found them on her forehead, nose, chest and back and has lost count of how many have been removed.

But in 2018, Melissa discovered what looked like a group of freckles lumped together in front of her ear.

Thinking it was best to get it checked out, she paid a visit to her dermatologist.

Melissa was then referred her to the Melanoma Institute in June 2018 - which confirmed she had a melanoma.

“I was very lucky to have caught it when I did,” she said.

“It did make me think that, ‘This is it’. The dread I experienced when I heard that word was really intense.

(Melissa Lewis / SWNS)

“Having four kids thinking I am not going to be there with them was so overwhelming.

“You automatically fast forward to the worst-case scenario.”

A month after her diagnosis, Melissa had her melanoma removed.

And, two months after her surgery, a biopsy revealed Melissa had Bowen’s disease - an early form of skin cancer.

Melissa said: “I am never going to be free from this.

“Basically if I don’t have my cancers removed, it can become a more serious invasive cancer.”

(Melissa Lewis / SWNS)

Since she was diagnosed with Bowen’s syndrome, Melissa undergoes a yearly none-surgical cancer treatment - Photodynamic therapy.

Photodynamic therapy is a treatment that involves light-sensitive medicine and a light source to destroy abnormal cells.

Melissa said: “I hate it, I get really anxious before I know I am coming up for treatment.

“It is really stressful as I know how much it hurts.

“My future will be to repeat expensive Photodynamic therapy with CO2 laser every year and always six monthly full skin checks.

“It will be the only way to prevent further surgery and keep non-melanoma skin cancers from becoming invasive cancer.”

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