Keely Jones, 40, was advised by a beautician to get a red blemish on her face seen to.
A mother-of-two has been left with a hole the size of a five-cent nickel in her face after dismissing the sign of skin cancer as a ‘stubborn spot.’ Yet, Ms Jones, from North Carolina, was convinced the bump on her temple was just a spot as she rarely exposed her skin to the sun.
After eventually seeing a doctor in September, Ms Jones was finally diagnosed with a form of skin cancer, known as basal cell carcinoma, and required more than 20 stitches after the growth was removed on November 21.
Ms Jones, who owns a beauty company, is sharing her story to warn others of the risks of skin cancer.
She said: ‘Skin cancer can happen to anyone – I hardly used tanning beds and always avoided the sun, and I still managed to end up with skin cancer.’
Keely Jones dismissed a red blemish on her face as a ‘stubborn spot’, but actually had cancer
After the growth was removed, the mother had a hole the size of a five-cent nickel on her face
Ms Jones (pictured with her daughter) required 20 stitches and three surgeries on the wound
WHAT IS BASAL CELL CARCINOMA?
Basal cell carcinoma (BCC) is the most common type of skin cancer, affecting around 80 percent of sufferers. The most common cause is overexposure to UV rays from sunlight or sunbeds.
BCC can occur anywhere on the body but is most common on the face, neck and ears. At-risk people include those who work outdoors, people with a family or personal history of BCC, and those with fair hair or skin.
BCC often appears as a red, flat mark that scabs and bleeds without healing. If left for years, the scab can erode into an ulcer.
Treatment depends on the size, type, location and penetration of the growth but may include surgery, radiation and topical or oral medications.
‘I had to have over 20 stitches’
Ms Jones said: ‘I only ever used tanning beds when I was in my teens and I hardly went in the sun anymore, and when I was in the sun my face would always be covered.
‘I’m lucky that I got the lump removed when it did or it’s likely that the cancer would’ve spread across my face.
‘Despite the spot being so small I had to have removals three times to make sure all of the cancer was gone.
‘I had to have over 20 stitches to close up the hole. Last week I had them taken out, so now I am just left with a small scar.’
‘It was unusual for me to get a spot’
Ms Jones visited her dermatologist in September after concerns were raised about her skin.
She said: ‘I don’t usually have blemishes on my face, so it was unusual for me to get a spot.
‘I thought it was just a stubborn one, so I just continued to pick it and every time it would just scab over and bleed.
‘After going for a facial I was advised to go and see a dermatologist after the beautician noticed the spot, but it took months to get referred to a clinic.
‘After seeing the dermatologist, they decided to do a biopsy on my temple as it looked concerning.
‘A week later I received a call and was told that I had cancer.’
Ms Jones had the growth removed on November 21.
She said: ‘I had to have three more surgeries to remove the spot from my temple and to get all of the cancer out.
‘When it was removed and I saw the massive hole on my temple I was so shocked – the spot was so little, but they needed to remove so much more skin.
‘The hole was then stitched together, but luckily I had these stiches removed just last week and it’s unlikely that I will need any more surgery.
‘I’ll still have to go for checkups though because the chance of having another cancerous spot is now higher.’
Ms Jones claims she only occasionally used tanning beds in her teens and is otherwise sun safe
Despite being left with a prominent scar, Ms Jones feels lucky the cancer did not spread
Ms Jones, who normally has clear skin, used to pick at the cancerous scab that never healed
A beautician advised she see a doctor, who performed a biopsy and told her she had cancer
‘Skin cancer can happen to anyone’
Ms Jones is using her story to raise awareness of the risks of skin cancer.
She said: ‘For the next few weeks I can’t exercise, pick up the children or sleep on my right-hand side.
‘These photographs of me are more than unflattering and as someone who works in beauty I found it quite hard to share them.
‘But hopefully it will help at least one person learn the importance of looking after their skin.
‘Skin cancer can happen to anyone – I hardly used tanning beds and always avoided the sun, and I still managed to end up with skin cancer.’
Despite the cancer being small, Ms Jones had a lot of skin removed to ensure it was all gone. She is more at-risk of cancer and needs regular check-ups (pictured with ice on the wound).
As she works in the beauty industry, Ms Jones is struggling to accept her scarred apperance. For the next few weeks, she is unable to pick up her children, exercise or sleep on her side.
Ms Jones wishes to raise awareness of the dangers of skin cancer to help others.