Mother-of-two who had an annoying spot on her chest in her wedding photos discovers it was skin cancer

It wasn't until Deborah Crofts went through her wedding snaps that she realised the spot above her right breast was the first sign. Photo / Supplied
It wasn't until Deborah Crofts went through her wedding snaps that she realised the spot above her right breast was the first sign. Photo / Supplied

A New-Zealand raised mum-of-two whose wedding photos showed a spot, clearly visible on her chest, has revealed how it turned out to be an aggressive form of skin cancer - leading to years of misery.

As Deborah Crofts, now 41, donned her elegant ivory bridal gown in February 2007, she noticed a pimple just above her right breast but, with all the excitement of her big day, she soon forgot about it.    

Whilst the spot remained small, it wouldn't heal - bleeding in the shower, then scabbing over, in a "never ending" cycle. 

Just a month after consulting her doctor, she was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common type of skin cancer, mainly caused by exposure to UV light. Photo / Supplied
Just a month after consulting her doctor, she was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common type of skin cancer, mainly caused by exposure to UV light. Photo / Supplied

And a year later, the software engineer from Skipton, North Yorkshire, was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma - the most common type of skin cancer, mainly caused by exposure to UV light, the Daily Mail reports.

"I was shocked and frightened when I was given my diagnosis," Deborah said. 

"However, I felt able to take it in my stride, because I was reassured I could have surgery to remove the cancerous cells and that I wouldn't need chemotherapy."

Since her diagnosis, Deborah has discovered about eight other visible malignant marks and further microscopic cancer cells.

She has recently finished treatment, using a special cream for BCC, for another cancerous patch on her chest.

Deborah Crofts noticed a pimple just above her right breast on her wedding day nine years ago - but quickly forgot about it. Photo / Supplied
Deborah Crofts noticed a pimple just above her right breast on her wedding day nine years ago - but quickly forgot about it. Photo / Supplied

But it wasn't until a recent Facebook 'Timehop' notification popped up with all her wedding snaps - a feature which shows you past memories- that she realised the annoying spot just above the neckline of her white dress had actually been the first sign of cancer.

"I was so shocked that I looked back at my photos from a holiday in New Zealand in 2008," said Deborah. "The spot's so obvious there, too. But it never occurred to me at the time it could be cancerous.

"Now I've had so many reoccurrences I just think 'not another one."

Deborah, who is now mum to Madison, eight, and Jacob, five, married underwriter Martyn, now 47, in a church in Auckland, New Zealand, near where she had grown up.

After her honeymoon, the spot became a scab that wouldn't heal, but she didn't think it needed treatment because it was small and flat

Then in March 2008 she went to see her GP about a raised mark on her back, which he said was fine, but the spot on her chest worried him.

Since her diagnosis, the malignant cells have returned twice. But currently she does not need any further treatment. Photo / Supplied
Since her diagnosis, the malignant cells have returned twice. But currently she does not need any further treatment. Photo / Supplied

Deborah was referred to a consultant at the Airedale General Hospital in Steeton, West Yorkshire, who confirmed it was basal cell carcinoma (BCC) after a biopsy in April 2008.

"I didn't like the word 'cancer' - it was scary," she said.

"Martyn was more vocally concerned, whereas I just got on with things."

In July 2008 at the Bradford Royal Infirmary, Deborah had surgery to remove the cancerous spot, under a local anaesthetic, so she was awake the whole time.

She remembered: "I shudder now thinking how horrendous it was to feel the needles.

"It was a tugging feeling, but the nurses were really good at distracting me.

"There is a massive scar on my chest, at least 15cm long. They had to cut out a canoe-shape and had to cut a certain distance away from the spot to ensure they covered the surrounding area."

After surgery, she tried to put her experience to the back of her mind, but her horror was not over.

Never much of a sunbather, she thinks she developed skin cancer as a result of too much sun exposure while growing up in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied
Never much of a sunbather, she thinks she developed skin cancer as a result of too much sun exposure while growing up in New Zealand. Photo / Supplied

She noticed a red mark on her back and another "rough patch" on her forehead, in around September 2013 and immediately went to see her GP.

Deborah was referred for a biopsy at Airedale the next month, and unfortunately both spots were confirmed as malignant. The cancerous cells on her back were cut out during the biopsy.

She then had surgery to remove the cancerous lesion on her forehead at the Chapel Allerton Hospital, Leeds, again under local anaesthetic, in January 2014.

"I was worried it would leave a scar on my face, but luckily it's very faint," she said.

In early 2015 she went to her GP with another mark on the centre of her chest.

In May 2015, it was confirmed that this, again, was BCC.

"I have become fairly good at spotting them," she said.

Now she is extra cautious with her skin and doesn't take any chances (pictured at her bridal party with a host of friends). Photo / Supplied
Now she is extra cautious with her skin and doesn't take any chances (pictured at her bridal party with a host of friends). Photo / Supplied

She was given a cream to treat it, which reacts with your skin if it detects cancerous cells, and treats it like an infection.

She said: "A big patch of the skin on my neck came out in a red angry rash, and what it highlighted was that I had a whole load of cancerous cells at a microscopic level.

"This treatment is even scarier than surgery.

"I didn't like the thought that the cream was on my skin when my son was cuddling me, but I checked with the doctor and it was safe."

Deborah has had four rounds of the treatment, so far, and doesn't need any further treatment for the time being.

She is still at the risk of reoccurrence, and will see her doctor in six months for a review.

Deborah has had four rounds of the treatment for the cancer. Photo / Supplied
Deborah has had four rounds of the treatment for the cancer. Photo / Supplied

Never much of a sunbather, Deborah thinks she developed skin cancer as a result of too much sun exposure, whilst growing up in New Zealand until 1998.

Now she is extra cautious with her skin and doesn't take any chances.

She uses sun cream, a hat, sunglasses, and tends to choose clothes that cover her shoulders.

"I nearly cried when my son didn't have a hat and sun cream at school on an unexpected sunny day last year," she confessed.

"No amount of tanning is worth the stress of healing cancerous skin cells."

- Daily Mail

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