‘Obsessed’ tanning addict told she has skin cancer while on way to use sunbed

An “obsessed” tanning addict dismissed a lump on her face for two years, before being told it was cancer on her way to use a sunbed.

Mairead Mcguire began using sunbeds when she was fifteen years old, heading to the tanning salon three or four times a week.

She even ramped her usage up to every day of the week when she knew she was going out at the weekend.

Mcguire, now 29, only stopped after being given the devastating news at the age of 28, that she had developed basal cell carcinoma – a type of skin cancer.

After ignoring a suspicious lump on her forehead for three months while continuing to obsessively tan herself, the mum-of-two eventually visited a doctor for a consultation.

However, the Belfast woman claims they told her it was just a ‘skin tag’.

Even after having the so-called ‘skin tag’ removed four times over the course of 2018 and 2019, Mcguire continued using sunbeds.

It was only when the lump became even more painful that she went for a second opinion and was told she had cancer in October 2020 – while on her way to use a sunbed.

The news prompted Mcguire, who was terrified at the idea of not being around for her children, to quit sunbeds forever.

Thankfully surgeons were able to successfully remove the cancerous lump in March this year, and now the mum is sharing gruesome photos of the huge lump she had been hiding behind her hair for more than two years, in a bid to warn others against using sunbeds.

Mcguire, who has naturally fair skin, said she became obsessed with using the sunbeds at 15, when she gave it a go and decided she preferred herself with some more colour.

“I was so addicted I couldn’t even tell I was tanned anymore but other people would be saying ‘look at the colour of you’ – so I just kept doing it and doing it,” she said.

“I noticed a tiny lump on my head but I ignored it for a few months and kept going on the sunbed.

“It started growing so I went to the doctor and he said it was just a skin tag and nothing to worry about. The doctor removed it by freezing it off a few times but it kept growing back worse and it started growing rapidly, hurting and bleeding at the slightest touch.”

Mcguire said she worried about the chance it was cancer in the back of her head, but the concern wasn’t great enough to deter her from the sunbeds.

As the lump grew, she began to wear her hair differently to hide it, moving her parting over to the side so that there was more hair to cover it.

But when the lump started to constantly bleed and hurt, Mcguire sent photos to another doctor for a second opinion. She was referred to a dermatologist, who labelled her case an “emergency” and scheduled an appointment for the following week.

When she received the call telling her it was cancer, whilst on the way to another sunbed session, she turned the car around and went straight home.

“I had all sorts of thoughts going through my head – mainly I was terrified of not being there for my children,” she said.

Dermatologists found Mairead’s lump had grown to three centimetres in length and one centimetre in width – triple its initial size. She was sent for surgery in March this year to remove the cancerous growth and spent the three-hour operation awake and numbed under local anesthetic.

The surgery was “really scary”, Mcguire said, and left her bedridden for a week afterwards. She has been left with a scar on her face, which she said is a reminder of how lucky she was to have survived the ordeal.

The mum of two has since had the all clear from her skin cancer scare at a check up appointment, four weeks after the operation.