'None of us were ready': Graphic photos show the reality of skin cancer

Fallon and Ryan Glossop. Image via Facebook.

Warning: This article contains graphic images.

An Australian woman has gone viral after sharing photos from her husband’s gruelling treatment for skin cancer.

Perth beautician Fallon Glossop took to Facebook urging others to practice sun safety after a small mole on her husband Ryan Glossop’s back turned out to be melanoma.

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“This subject is quite raw for me as my husband, Ryan, was diagnosed with melanoma in November 2018,” Glossop wrote. “After 40 odd biopsies of his neck and back, one of his lung and four surgeries, what started out so small, turned into something that none of us were ready for.”

Ryan Glossop's mole at the time of diagnosis. Image via Facebook.

While the initial mole was small, doctors were forced to remove affected tissue surrounding the cancerous area. Tests revealed that Glossop had Nevus Spilus (NS), a skin condition which causes pigmented patches (macules or papules) on the body. According to one study, it is extremely rare for NS to develop into melanoma, with less than 40 known cases reported to date, but doctors believe such was the case for Glossop.

“In May 2019 a large area of skin from his neck and back needed to be taken. So in his fourth surgery, Ryan had a skin graft, removing skin from both legs to cover the section on his neck and back,” Glossop continued.

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The Canadian Cancer Society notes that skin grafts are a common form of reconstructive surgery following cancer removal, and takes up to two weeks to heal.

Ryan Glossop. Image via Facebook.

“The strength that Ryan has had through this whole process amazes me, not only has he managed his pain considerably well, but he has kept it together,” she said.

More than 7,300 skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year in Canada, with people under 35 being at the greatest risk for developing melanoma. It is estimated that in 2019, 1,300 will die as a result of melanoma and associated cancers. Men are more likely to die from melanoma than women. Melanoma on the arms and legs is said to generally hold a more positive prognosis than cancer on the head or neck.

Fallon and Ryan Glossop. Image via Facebook.

Practicing skin safety throughout the year and performing self exams to spot any new moles or changes to existing moles and growths. Asymmetrical, dark coloured moles, skin lesions that bleed, and scalloped edges of moles are all warning signs that something may be wrong. As with all cancers, the earlier the illness is detected the better. Those who frequently tan or using tanning beds, have blistering sunburns or a-typical moles that have changed shape are encouraged to visit a doctor or dermatologist.

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Glossop hopes that by sharing her husband’s story, more people will be proactive in having moles checked, and be diligent about sun protection.

“This whole experience has been hugely challenging for all of us, but if anything good is to come out of this, it is that we now want to help raise more awareness for skin cancer,” Glossop wrote. “Your life is too precious to just bake yourself in the sun and not worry about your skin.”

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