Mother diagnosed with skin cancer after using sunbeds for 3 months

Mother, 29, who used sun beds for just three months after becoming frustrated with fake tan is left with a ‘crater’ in her leg after a ‘tiny mole’ turned out to be skin cancer

  • WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES 
  • Lucy Hartland, 29, from Gloucester, had tried a variety of fake tan products 
  • Dissatisfied she wore tan accelerator and used sunbeds for 10-15 minutes daily
  • Went to GP with small mole on her shin and biopsy revealed stage 1A melanoma
  • Needed a skin graft and now has ‘crater’ hole in her leg which put her on bed rest 

A mother with pale skin has told how she was diagnosed with skin cancer after using sunbeds for just three months because she’d got frustrated with fake tan. 

Lucy Hartland, 29, from Gloucester, had tried a variety of fake tan products in pursuit of a ‘lush’ tan that didn’t give her the long-lasting glow she wanted.

Frustrated by her pale and freckly skin, Lucy finally opted to slather on tan accelerator and hop on sunbeds for 10-15 minutes a pop daily, starting last April.

After just three months of daily sunbathing sessions the mum-of-one spotted a ‘ridiculously tiny’ mole on her left shin and went to the GP.

Lucy Hartland, 29, from Gloucester, had tried a variety of fake tan products in pursuit of a ‘lush’ tan that didn’t give her the long-lasting glow she wanted

After just three months of daily sunbathing sessions the mum-of-one spotted a ‘ridiculously tiny’ mole on her left shin and went to the GP

The doctor referred Lucy to hospital where skin specialists assessed and then whipped off the mole before sending it off for a biopsy.

Less than a week later Lucy was given the devastating news that the mole was cancerous and she had stage 1A melanoma.

Former nursery nurse Lucy underwent a second surgery where she had a skin graft to cover the crater left in her leg.

Now, having been given the all-clear, Lucy is sharing her story to urge tanaholics to ditch sunbeds and embrace fake tan.

Lucy said: ‘I just wanted to get a lush tan. I didn’t have a clue about the risks, I was so naive.

Lucy, who’s mum to three-year-old daughter Marnie Rooney, shared her experience in a Facebook post in January, begging her friends to ditch the sunbeds, sharing photos of her wound (pictured: the area on the top of her leg where skin was removed to do a graft)


Less than a week after her biopsy, Lucy was told she had melanoma and that she needed another surgical excision op and skin graft

‘I wasn’t comfortable in the colour of my skin, I wanted to get a tan and get it quick.

‘Fake tans weren’t working, they would go patchy so I started going on sunbeds every day for 10-15 minutes at a time.

‘When I started going on the sunbeds I would see the results instantly. My skin looked better, my teeth looked whiter, everything was just better. It was a massive confidence boost having a tan.

‘Within three months of going on them I had stage 1A melanoma. When they told me I had it, I had no idea about it. I read up about it when I got home and I just thought “I’ve got a child, what am I going to do if this gets worse?”

‘I’ve had the all-clear, the melanoma’s completely gone, and I have check-ups every three months but I’ve just got to be very careful in the sun now.’

Now recovering, Lucy always wears sunscreen and is urging other tanners to avoid using tanning beds and instead use fake tan

Lucy, who’s mum to three-year-old daughter Marnie Rooney, shared her experience in a Facebook post in January, begging her friends to ditch the sunbeds.

The post read: ‘WARNING PICTURES ARE NOT FOR THE FAINT HEARTED. 28 with skin cancer?? That wouldn’t ever happen to me all because of a sunbed??!!

‘Having to deal with this isn’t easy but it’s got to be put out for others to realise! You all wanna go on a sunbed and get a lush tan yeah? So this is the aftermath of my skin graft and removal of my cancerous mole… I am nowhere near the recovery I should be and now have infected leg maybe having to have another operation. 

‘I am on bed rest for the next three days, I can’t even have my own daughter [right now] due to the medication I am on. If this isn’t a lesson learnt to others and an eye opener nothing will be! Do your research, understand the UV! Please let this all be a lesson be safe!!!’


After the operation, Lucy had an infection in her leg so didn’t recover very well and was in and out of the hospital and put on antibiotics for a couple of weeks to get rid of the infection

Lucy had dabbled with fake tans for many years but didn’t achieve the results she wanted, which prompted her decision to try sunbeds.

Unaware of the risks, Lucy opted to use tan accelerators on sunbeds she rented for use at home or in tanning salons when lockdown restrictions lifted.

In July Lucy spotted a tiny mole on her lower left shin and decided to get it checked out by her GP.

Lucy was referred to the skin clinic at Gloucestershire Royal when specialists assessed the mole, removed it during a 30-minute procedure and sent it off for a biopsy.

Less than a week later Lucy was told she had melanoma and that she needed another surgical excision op and skin graft.

Former nursery nurse Lucy underwent a second surgery where she had a skin graft to cover the crater left in her leg. Despite the operation going well, Lucy was left with scarring on both her shin and thigh where the skin graft was taken from

Lucy said: ‘As the fake tans weren’t working I just thought it would be a better route to try sunbeds.

‘I rented a sunbed for at home and I bought a 60-minute package at a tanning salon, which I paid £40 for.

‘I didn’t have a clue about the risks. I was putting on any sort of tan accelerator when I got on a sunbed.

WHAT IS MELANOMA? 

Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.

The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.

This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.

In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than 1 colour. The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.

Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.

In most cases, once the melanoma has been removed there’s little possibility of it returning and no further treatment should be needed. Most people (80 to 90 per cent) are monitored for one to five years and are then discharged with no further problems. 

Information supplied by NHS 

‘It didn’t hurt, it was like having a 10-minute holiday, it was lovely. I had a ridiculously tiny mole come up on the bottom of my leg, which I’d never had before.

‘I went to the doctors and straight away they sent me off to the skin clinic at the hospital.

‘The skin specialists took one look at it and they removed it that day and sent it off for a biopsy.

‘Less than a week later they sent me a letter asking me to come in for a chat that said “bring someone with you”. I remember thinking “oh god this doesn’t sound too good” so I took my sister. They told me there and then and then what it was and that I had to have another operation.

‘I then had a second operation where they removed what was left and I had a skin graft. I spoke to them and Macmillan, they were both brilliant, I couldn’t fault them.’

Despite the operation going well, Lucy was left with scarring on both her shin and thigh where the skin graft was taken from.

Lucy said: ‘[After the operation] I had an infection in my leg so I didn’t recover very well.

‘I was always in and out of the hospital and I was on antibiotics for a couple of weeks to get rid of the infection. Now it’s healed but it doesn’t look the best.

‘It’s left a crater in my leg that’s very deep and there’s a big scar. At the top of my leg I’ve also got a scar from the skin graft site, so I won’t be wearing any skirts or dresses.’

Now recovering, Lucy always wears sunscreen and is urging other tanners to avoid using tanning beds and instead use fake tan.

‘I decided to share my experience because people don’t understand the dangers of it, it can happen to anyone,’ she said.

‘I didn’t think of the risks, I didn’t care if I got burned and I would never ever think to use sun cream. Now I put factor 50 on my legs once a day.

‘My advice to tanaholics would be to not go on sunbeds, it’s not worth risking your life for a tan. If I’m going anywhere now I’ll fake tan, that’s 100 per cent the end of sun beds for me.

‘It’s scary it happened in just three months. I’ve had the biggest wake-up call, it makes you look at life so differently.’ 

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