A mother was diagnosed with skin cancer three times in three years after she initially mistook an abnormal spot for acne.
Jeska Forsyth, 34, first noticed a mark on her upper forehead that would repeatedly scab and fall off in 2008.
Six years after spotting the suspicious mark, Mrs Forsyth saw a dermatologist when her mother insisted and paid for her appointment.
It was then that Mrs Forsyth, who lives in Austin, Texas, was told she had skin cancer and would urgently need surgery to slice off the troublesome ‘spot’.
She also had to apply topical chemotherapy cream to her face daily, which caused her skin to become red and inflamed.
Despite getting the all-clear, Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed with skin cancer twice more in February 2015 and December 2017, after rushing to doctors with strange spots on her skin.
Mrs Forsyth, who is now disease free, had all three major types of skin cancer – basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma and melanoma.
It is possible for a patient to have multiple different types of skin cancer, and Mrs Forsyth believes sunburn as a child may have contributed to the severity of her case.
Jeska Forsyth was diagnosed with skin cancer three times in three years after she initially mistook an abnormal skin lesion on her forehead (pictured) for acne for six years
Mrs Forsyth, a mother-of-one, has had three surgeries to remove cancerous spots
She has also had to apply topical chemotherapy cream to her face as part of her treatment, which causes the skin to become red and inflamed (pictured)
Getting sunburnt just once every two years can triple your risk of melanoma – the most common type of skin cancer, according to Cancer Research UK.
Speaking of the first time Mrs Forsyth saw the spot on her forehead, she said: ‘When I was 24 years old I noticed a mark on my upper forehead and proceeded to watch it for the next two years.
‘The spot wasn’t much larger than my tiny fingernail, but I noticed that it would go through cycles.
‘It was appearing like acne, then it would get crusty and eventually it would turn into a scab and fall off only to reappear a few days or weeks later. It just never healed and went away.
‘Honestly I really did wait a little too long to be seen for that first suspicious mark and kept putting it off out of complete fear that it would be what I thought it was – cancer.’
Mrs Forsyth, a singer and musician, was also apprehensive to book an appointment due to not having health insurance.
She said: ‘Eventually my mother told me that I had to go to the dermatologist, and she offered to not only pay for the appointment but also she accompanied me.’
In October 2014, Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma, one of the two most common types of non-melanoma skin cancer.
Around 147,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the UK each year, and around 5.4million in the US.
Mrs Forsyth had to undergo surgery to remove the spot and sew up the wound.
Mrs Forsyth, a singer and musician, was also apprehensive to book an appointment about her strange spot because she feared she had cancer and did not have health insurance. She is pictured at an appointment the first time she was diagnosed in 2014
The third time Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed, in December 2017, she had a pink spot surgically removed from her shoulder (pictured)
Mrs Forsyth said when she was first diagnosed, she was mother to a four-year-old daughter (pictured now). This is what gave her motivation to ‘stick around’
WHAT SKIN CANCER DID JESKA FORSYTH HAVE?
Jeska Forsyth was diagnosed with all three major types of skin cancers: basal cell carcinoma (BCC), squamous cell carcinoma (SCC), and melanoma.
In October 2014, Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma. The tumors start off as small shiny ‘pearly’ bumps that look like a spot. They are usually on the nose or other parts of the face and grow very slowly.
Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed with the other non-melanoma skin cancer squamous cell carcinoma in February 2015. It usually begins as a dome-shaped bump or a red, scaly patch of skin that is rough and crusty. It may also bleed.
In December 2017, Mrs Forsyth was diagnosed with amelanotic nodular melanoma. It’s a rare cancer of the skin which accounts for five out of 100 cases of melanoma. The marks usually have little or no colour, but may occasionally be pink or red, or have light brown or grey edges.
She said: ‘At this point in my life, I was a new mother of a then four-year-old little girl and that’s what gave me the motivation to be seen as I wanted to stick around to see her grow up.
‘Waiting for that first appointment to have something removed was insanely scary and I remember walking into the office and finding it surreal.
‘The removal of the basal cell carcinoma went really well; I remember the weird sensation of having my forehead cut on and the weird sound it made when the doctor was cutting it off.’
Mrs Forsyth had to apply a topical chemotherapy treatment to her face two times a day for a month. The skin becomes red, weepy and sore in response.
The spot soon disappeared and Mrs Forsyth. Doctors told her she needed to go to hospital for a check-up every six months.
However, just a year after her first diagnosis, in February 2015, she noticed another spot on her forehead that would not go away and went to the doctors.
She was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma, the other type of non-melanoma skin cancer.
She said: ‘When I got my next diagnosis of squamous cell carcinoma it was scary because it had only been a year since the first one and I think it was then that I realised I would be checking and treating skin cancer my entire life.’
Mrs Forsyth claims that her dermatologist wasn’t worried about her third spot on her shoulder. But Mrs Forsyth requested they did a biopsy anyway. A week later they called her and told her that she had skin cancer again. She is pictured having stitches taken out her surgery wound
Being diagnosed with skin cancer a third time was ‘the scariest moment’, Mrs Forsyth said
Mrs Forsyth. pictured with her husband, Guy, had her third surgery at a teaching hospital in San Antonia Texas where doctors were once again able to remove the cancer
Mrs Forsyth had a biopsy where her spot was cut off as well as a few other spots on her face which were frozen off. She also had to undergo another round of topical chemotherapy.
A couple of years passed without any more spots until December 2017, when she found a small pink spot on her right shoulder while she was doing a self-body check.
It was very small but due to her careful monitoring, she managed to spot it early. But Mrs Forsyth claims that her dermatologist wasn’t worried about the spot.
Mrs Forsyth requested they did a biopsy anyway, and a week later they called her and told her that she had skin cancer again.
This time it was amelanotic nodular melanoma, a rare cancer of the skin which accounts for five out of 100 cases of melanoma – the most common form of cancer.
There are around 100,350 new melanomas diagnosed in the US every year, and 15,970 in the UK.
Mrs Forsyth said: ‘Being diagnosed the third time with skin cancer was the scariest, “life flashes before your eyes” moment because I had requested the biopsy after being told it didn’t look threatening or scary.
‘I remember going completely numb while listening to the doctor over the phone and really couldn’t collect any more of the information she was giving me after the initial disclosure of melanoma and that I needed to seek help as soon as possible.’
After kicking skin cancer for the third time, Mrs Forsyth, a singer and musician, wants to raise awareness of the signs of skin cancer. She said: ‘Don’t wait as long as I did to go in and get checked – that was so silly of me’
Mrs Forsyth, who is now disease free and pictured at a check-up, believes sunburn as a child may have contributed to the severity of her case.
HOW TO STAY SAFE IN THE SUN
Sunburn increases a person’s risk of skin cancer.
It can happen abroad or in the UK.
To stay sun safe, experts recommend people:
- Seek shade between 11am and 3pm, which is when the sun’s rays are typically strongest
- Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes, and again just before, UV exposure
- Opt for water-resistant sunscreen if necessary and reapply after swimming, sweating or using a towel
- Cover up with protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
- Be extra careful with babies and young children. Infants under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight
- Do not use sunbeds or sunlamps
- Checks moles and skin for any changes
Source: NHS Choices
Mrs Forsyth had her third and most recent surgery at a teaching hospital in San Antonia Texas where doctors were once again able to remove the cancer.
Since, Mrs Forsyth has been very attentive to her skin and takes every precaution possible, such as wearing hats, long-sleeve shirts, sun cream and doing self-scans at home.
As a child, she remembers more than one occasion that she suffered sunburn and thinks that this could have been a contributing factor to her cancer.
She said: ‘I remember my grandmother putting sunscreen on me once only to find out that she had accidentally used a tanning lotion and I got a seriously bad sunburn that time.
‘I also remember being burned so badly that I had to lay on couch cushions in the living room with aloe vera all over me under a sheet and how humiliated I felt going to junior high without a bra on because the bra wire hurt too bad over my sunburn.’
After kicking skin cancer for the third time, Mrs Forsyth wants to raise awareness of the signs of skin cancer.
She said: ‘I post and try to bring awareness all the time because I didn’t know the type of melanoma I received was even a thing.
‘I always thought it was dark and changed shape and grew quickly and I feel like I knew a lot about skin cancer at that point and felt blind sighted by an enemy I didn’t even knew existed.
‘Don’t wait as long as I did to go in and get checked – that was so silly of me.’
For more information visit Mrs Forsyth’s Instagram here.