Jenni Brady, 28, claims to have been hooked on the beds since her teens, going on her first one when she was just 12 years old
A sunbed addict won’t let her nine-year-old daughter wear a bikini on holiday after her skin cancer diagnosis.
Jenni Brady, 28, claims to have been hooked on the beds since her teens, going on her first one when she was just 12 years old.
At the height of her obsession, the mother-of-two, of Sandbach in Cheshire, would top up her tan everyday on a bed.
She even went straight to a tanning salon after being allowed home from hospital after giving birth to her daughter Stella.
But Ms Brady, a barista, was diagnosed in 2013 with melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. Despite having a ‘lucky escape’, she now fears her disease could return.
Ms Brady hopes sunbeds will be banned before her daughter is old enough to follow in her footsteps. But in the meantime, she is trying to protect Stella from UV rays as much as she can. Overexposure to UV rays is considered to be the main preventable cause of skin cancer.
Recalling her diagnosis, Ms Brady, who still regularly sees a dermatologist, said: ‘As a mum, it was horrific to be told I have cancer.
‘I’ll never forget the day when they told me and the first thing I asked them was “am I going to die?” and they couldn’t tell me.
‘I’ll never forget going to tell my family that I didn’t know if I was going to die, I had two young children.’
She added: ‘Stella is very pale, so I’m very conscious about that because she burns, even in the UK.
‘I wouldn’t be happy if she wanted to go on a sunbed, I’d probably ban her from doing that. I would like to think they’ll be banned by the time she’s that age.
‘I worry about Stella all the time. On sports day and when we go on holiday, she is covered head to toe. She can’t wear a bikini, she wears a t-shirt.’
The UK banned under 18s from using sunbeds, which give out UV rays, in 2012 – but there are fears this law is not being properly enforced.
Recalling her diagnosis, Ms Brady, who still regularly sees a dermatologist, said: ‘As a mum, it was horrific to be told I have cancer’ (pictured with her children Stella, nine, and Joe, 11)
Ms Brady, a barista, was diagnosed in 2013 with melanoma – the deadliest form of skin cancer. Despite having a ‘lucky escape’, she now fears her disease could return (pictured, the scar on her leg after treatment to remove the cancer)
The Sunbed Association, an industry body, states on its website that two to three sessions a week is ‘okay’ for most people.
Ms Brady, a single parent who grew up in Liverpool, first got a taste for tanning salons as a 12-year-old schoolgirl.
But her hobby became an addiction by the time she turned 16. She said: ‘The older girls had tans and I was desperate to be just like them.
‘I remember being worried the first time I went and I thought they might stop us, but no-one ever asked how old we were.
‘I’d go in every day on my way home from school and, even if I burned and my skin was red raw, I’d keep on going back.’
Ms Brady, also mother to 11-year-old Joe, said her parents told her to stop – but she would try and hide her tan from them.
She said: ‘I’d go straight upstairs when I got home from school and if my dad ever asked why I was red I’d tell him I’d been out running.
‘I came back from hospital after giving birth to my daughter and the first thing I did was go to the sunbed salon.
‘I hadn’t been on all through my pregnancy but I desperate to get back on them and feel the warmth on my skin – that’s how addicted I was.’
The NHS says on its website many women find their skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, meaning they can burn easier.
Ms Brady, a single parent who grew up in Liverpool, first got a taste for tanning salons as a 12-year-old schoolgirl (pictured, Stella and Joe)
Ms Brady does credit having a spray tan with saving her life, after a beautician saw an unusual-looking mole on her right leg.
She decided to get the mole checked out by a dermatologist, who diagnosed her with stage one melanoma – the earliest form of the disease.
Surgeons removed a ‘chunk’ from her leg, which has left her too self-conscious to wear dresses. She underwent four operations in total and had six moles removed.
Ms Brady said: ‘The beautician spotted the mole and mentioned she’d noticed it had changed shape over the weeks she’d been tanning me.
‘But even though I knew it was there, I didn’t do anything about it and carried on going on the sunbeds.
‘I’d even joke about it – I remember saying to the woman in the sunbed centre “I’ve come to tan my mole”.
‘It was only after Lauren, my tanner, really started to nag me that I finally went to see someone so if it hadn’t been for her I would have carried on ignoring it.’
Surgeons removed a ‘chunk’ from her leg (pictured, her scars), which has left her too self-conscious to wear dresses. She underwent four operations in total and had six moles removed
She added: ‘The dermatologist told me straight away that it was really serious and that I’d need to have some tests.
‘When I got the results back, it was a melanoma stage one which meant it was in the early stages.
‘I ended up having four operations in two-and-a-half years – three on my leg and one for another mole on my stomach.’
After her traumatic experience, Ms Brady is urging fellow tanners to stay away from the sunbeds.
She said: ‘I didn’t have anyone close to me who’d been through something like that before so I had no warning – I dread to think what might have happened.
‘I think in the back of my mind I knew it was bad for me but I loved it so much I just didn’t want to give it up.
‘Just hearing that word “cancer” makes me feel numb, and it is still hard to take knowing that I probably caused it myself.
‘I don’t wear dresses anymore, and I haven’t put on a bikini since my stomach operation.
After her traumatic experience, Ms Brady (pictured) is urging fellow tanners to stay away from the sunbeds
‘Girls take such a pride in their appearance, but if they see these pictures, hopefully they will realise the damage they’re doing.
‘I felt great at the time and I thought I looked good, but now I only use spray tan and my skin’s better than it ever was.’
Ms Brady added: ‘I’ve had a really lucky escape, I know that, but some girls are still doing it. Why would you risk your life to be tanned?’
Cancer Research UK warned in July that rates of melanoma have soared by 45 per cent over the past ten years.
The increase has been recorded in all ages, rising from the eighth most common cancer in Britain to the fifth most common cancer.
It’s also the second most common cancer in young adults, with rates increasing by 70 per cent since in 25 to 49-year-olds since the 1990s.
The International Agency for Research on Cancer says there is significant evidence that sunbeds cause melanoma.
Lisa Bickerstaffe, a spokesperson for the British Skin Foundation, said: ‘Research shows that the potential to get skin cancer, including melanoma, is increased in those who have also used sunbeds.
‘We know that there is no such thing as a safe tan from UV rays, therefore, the BSF, in line with other health organisations does not recommend sunbed use.’
WHAT DO CANCEROUS MOLES LOOK LIKE? CHECKING IS AS EASY AS ABCDE
The more moles someone has, the higher their risk of developing melanoma.
The following ABCDE guidance can help people identify moles that might need looking over by a doctor.
Look out for moles with an irregular shape.
Check for asymmetrical moles that have an irregular shape
Check for jagged edges.
People should look out for moles with irregular borders and jagged edges
If a mole changes in colour or is a different colour in one part than in another, seek medical advice.
Moles that change colour or have a different colours within them should be looked over
Any increase in size should be checked, but be particularly cautious of moles that grow more than around 6mm across.
Any change in size should be checked, but more than 6mm across is very concerning
The E section is generally classed as ‘elevation’; warning you to watch out for moles that are raised from the surface, particularly if this is irregular.
Yet, Dr David Fisher, director of the melanoma program at Massachusetts General Hospital, explains many dermatologists have different classifications for this.
His preferred word is ‘evolving’.
Dr Fisher previously told MailOnline: ‘Is it changing? Do you notice anything suspicious or concerning? That is key.’
Look out for moles that are raised or those that ‘evolve’ over time