A London mother of three revealed Wednesday that she had a hole on the top of her head as a result of skin cancer caused by her addiction to a tanning bed.
Nickie Murtagh — who started going to a tanning salon when she was in her 20s — would visit the tanning bed at least twice a week. But she first noticed something was off in 2016 when she detected a spot in the part of her hair that did not heal, according to Jam Press.
“I visited my GP [general practitioner] twice and was told both times that it was a cosmetic issue and that it was only a cyst,” said the now-37-year-old.
“They said that if I wanted it [removed] it would be by a private appointment.”
However, her condition did not improve. By February 2018, the lump had grown, but the doctor kept insisting that it was a cyst.
Murtagh visited a dermatologist who immediately raised concerns and ordered a biopsy. In May, it was revealed that the “cyst” was actually cancer.
“I work at the Royal Marsden Hospital, so I’ve seen lots of cancer, but that word sends chills,” Murtagh said.
“We didn’t want to even tell the kids as we knew they wouldn’t be able to see past that word.”
In December of the same year, Murtagh managed to remove the growth and receive a skin graft.
“I was awake during the whole process, and it was the worst thing I’ve ever experienced in my life,” lamented Murtagh.
Doctors managed to remove the cancer as well as attempted to repair the damage to her face and hair. However, Murtagh is still not symptom-free. She also has a skin condition called melasma, which is characterized by brown or blue-gray patches or freckle-like spots on the face. Whenever she goes into the sun, the spots reappear.
“I don’t like how I look now – but that’s my battle scars and forever reminder that I have my life so will do everything I can to help push this horrid cancer awareness.”
Murtagh documented her journey on TikTok in an effort to raise awareness of skin cancer with several of her followers calling her brave.
“You’re amazing girly thank you for posting this video really opened up my eyes I’m throwing out my tanning lotion and giving up now,” commented one user.
“I was literally thinking how pale I am and never used a sunbed but wanted to, thank you for changing my mind!” another said.
Murtagh has also faced backlash over her videos with some people calling her vain and reminding her that what happened was her fault.
“Some people remind me that I did it to myself, that I’m vain, and that I deserve it,” said Murtagh.
“I’m lucky that I’m only scarred and I still have my life, so I will use it as best I can to save people’s skin and lives too.”