Why Dom’s getting behind skin cancer campaignPosted on July 21, 2022
With the heatwave bringing blue skies and record temperatures across the country our colleague Dom Edwards is getting behind a campaign warning of the dangers of skin cancer and urging people to stay safe in the sun.
Dom, who is our Senior Director for Produce, noticed an itchy mole on his back in 2008, which was confirmed as skin cancer the following year.
He’s undergone a series of major operations and has regular treatment but, after the melanoma spread to his lymph nodes, spine and organs, he’s had the devastating news that he has stage four terminal cancer.
Dom, who’s married to Lizzie and has a daughter Lily, 15, and son Alfie, 13, is determined to use his experience to help other people avoid what he’s had to go through.
Dom, who’s 52 and lives in Leeds, said: “I don’t think we knew as much when I was younger – I don’t remember if I wore enough suncream when I was child. I can’t recall a particular time when I got severely sunburnt, but I’m sure I had a few instances of being red.
“I think it’s really important to talk to people and share my story, as I think a personal story stays with you so much more than facts, figures and advice, and I really want to raise awareness of this, as prevention is better than any cure.
“It’s surprisingly common to get skin cancer on your back, especially among men, as they’re more likely to take their shirts of when it’s hot, and it’s quite problematic because you can’t see it yourself.”
Dom has had 12 operations since his diagnosis, as well as regular check-ups and appointments, but has been determined to carry on working throughout.
He said: “My journey has really been helped by working here, as Asda have looked after and supported me all the way and have been great employers.
“It was important to me to carry on working, as there are case studies showing that people who give up work and feel sorry for themselves don’t live as long as those who keep working and stay active and positive.
“I started with Asda in 2009, and it probably saved my life. I noticed I had a mole on my back in 2008 when I was living in Bristol. I saw several GPs, but they didn’t think it was skin cancer. So when I moved to Yorkshire I had a new GP and they referred me straight away to Leeds Teaching Hospital and they operated on me there and then.”
After he was told he had stage four cancer in 2019 Dom was offered immunotherapy and radiotherapy treatment – and three years later the cancer is stable.
He said: “I consider myself very lucky. I’m such a fan of the NHS and they have done an amazing job for me, especially during Covid.
“I’ve been living with the fear that I might not get to see my kids grow up for 12 years now, but I’ve always been positive and stayed healthy.”
Dom has been interviewed by new media organisations including the BBC and The Daily Express as he’s used his personal experience to support a survey from Cancer Research and Nivea Sun, which found that sun protection isn’t front of mind for men.
Their study found that although 84% of UK men know sunburn increases your risk of skin cancer, less than a quarter always protect themselves from the sun. And when looking into the reasons for having not protected themselves in the sun, a quarter of men said they did not feel the sun was strong enough, with a further 23% saying they didn’t really think about it.
Dom said: “I always ask my oncology consultant how busy they are and they’re busier than ever, which is really sad as it’s so avoidable.
“You’ve got to be very careful in the sun – it’s scary the harm you can do to yourself by wanting to get a tan.
“I don’t go out in the sun much, but I will never go outside between 1-4 when it’s hot and if I go on holiday I never expose myself to the sun. I always wear factor 50 – and even in winter I wear suncream on my face.
“I’m really happy that the word is getting out. I was at my son’s cricket club at the weekend and an article about my experience from the BBC was shared on a North Leeds Cricket app, and lots of messages telling all the boys and girls to wear suncream.
“I’ll tell anyone who’ll listen how important this is. I go swimming to keep fit and there have been at least three occasions when I’ve gone up to people and said, ‘I hope you don’t mind me saying, but I have seen moles on your back and you need to get them checked out.”
Dom is a passionate supporter of My Melanoma, a Leeds-based group studying research and treatment for melanoma. To find out more about their work and who to support their fundraising mission, go to https://www.mymelanoma.org/
He has also recently become a media volunteer for Cancer Research UK so he can help spread awareness of this terrible disease and help raise funds for CRUK. Dom said: “After all, without these charities I wouldn’t have been able to have the new ground-breaking treatment I’m receiving to keep me alive! It’s the least I can do.”