Image: Melanie Williams/Facebook.
When you see the words skin cancer, you probably imagine a mole with an irregular edge that’s changed colour over time.
This isn’t inaccurate — these are all descriptions associated with potential melanoma. However, there’s a Facebook photo being shared by thousands of people right now that proves skin cancer comes in different forms, and they don’t always match the image in your mind.
Earlier this month Leeds woman Melanie Williams shared a photo of her thumb, with dark markings clearly visible beneath the nail as if she’d accidentally jammed it in a door.
In her caption, Williams explained the markings grew from nothing over the course of a few weeks, and she assumed they were the result of a fungal infection or a wart. In fact, it was skin cancer — and now Williams is using her experience to remind others of the importance of being vigilant.
"I've been lucky, the cancer hasn't spread and it's being removed next week along with half of my thumb. This may have not been the case if I'd left it and not got it checked out," the 36-year-old wrote.
"I don't want your sympathy, I want more awareness. Therefore, please go and get any changes or growths on your skin checked out, please tell people around you to get checked as well. Don't leave it to chance or make excuses ... share this or tell someone they need to get checked or make that phone call to the doctors for yourself."
Williams said she will be "fighting fit" in no time, adding that if she'd left the mark any longer she could have lost "more than a thumb." (Post continues after gallery.)
So far, her post has been shared more than 23,000 times — a sign the message has resonated. It can be easy to get lax about having your skin checked, or to dismiss any changes that appear as something benign. Yet early detection is key to successful cancer treatment, so don't put it off.
Williams' photo is also a reminder that skin cancer doesn't always appear in obvious areas, like the shoulder or back. Like the other exposed parts of your body, hands, feet, fingers and toes are all exposed to ultraviolet (UV) light from the sun or artificial sources like sunbeds.