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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 00:05 GMT
Blogging to prevent skin cancer
By Jane Elliott
BBC News health reporter

Lee Jordan
Lee has never been abroad
Lee Jordan has skin cancer and he wants the world to know about it.

He used sun-cream and has never been abroad on exotic sun-seeking holidays.

And, although he had a history of sunburn, he was shocked when, at the age of 24, a mole on his leg and one on his arm were shown to be malignant.

Each year 7,300 people, like Lee, are diagnosed with malignant melanoma and, of these, 1,600 will not be alive five years later.

'Helps anxiety'

But when Lee got his diagnosis he was surprised to find there was so little information for people like him.

While the facts of the disease are known, Lee, from Birmingham, felt there were too few personal tales, so he set up his own website to chart his fight with the disease, asking a doctor to make sure the facts he put on the site were correct.

It's quite liberating, even if no-one reads it
Lee Jordan

He said: "I am a web designer, so something like this is second nature for me.

"My own online blog is a way of letting people know what my situation is.

"It also acts as a way to download the anxiety that being stuck with cancer but not being able to do anything about it in the short term, creates.

"It's quite liberating, even if no-one reads it.

"All the information services that I saw were scary, and just kept saying the same things, but with no personal experience.

"It was good to find the facts, but there was nothing about how people coped with their cancers.

Knowing that I have one of the most aggressive types of cancer isn't the killer, it's the not knowing what cancer cells are doing in there, where they are or which places they have marked to sightsee

Lee wants to use his story, and that of 22-year-old Alex Lines, a young DJ who died from skin cancer last June, to warn others to check their moles and report any changes to their GP to avoid their cancers becoming as advanced as his.

"I just did not think they were cancerous. I used sunscreen and, although I had a history of sunburn, I had never been abroad.

"But my moles were both diagnosed as cancerous."

'Left it late'

The melanoma on his leg was 6mm in depth.

He knows that, because of the delay in diagnosis, his chances of surviving the next five years are 50/50.

A melanoma
Lee had two malignant melanomas

"My Breslow depth (a method for measuring the depth of the tumour, used to predict a patient's chance of survival) for the mole on the back of my leg was off the scale. It came in at a whopping 6mm depth.

"It was because it was bleeding that my family pressured me to get it checked out, I really thought it wouldn't have been as serious as it was.

"I've not had any chemo or had any lymph nodes removed because at my stage it tends to be a 'wait-and-see' approach - at least that's how it feels with the three month checkups.

"I believe my chances are not as good as they could have been, because I left it so late.

"All I have had done so far is the surgery to remove the cancer. I will have to wait and see whether I need chemotherapy or radiotherapy."

And he will be charting these visits through his web diary.

Shared experiences

Martin Ledwick, cancer information nurse manager at Cancer Research UK, said personal experiences, like Lee's, had been found to help others deal with their cancers.

"On our information service we hear from over 800 people a month affected by cancer.

We know that some people do find it helpful to hear or read about how other people have felt or coped with their illness
Martin Ledwick
Cancer Research UK

"Many of the people who contact us do ask about other people's experiences of cancer. We know that some people do find it helpful to hear or read about how other people have felt or coped with their illness.

"Our patient information website has a whole section devoted to people's own stories.

"Web-based diaries (blogs) can also be helpful. These can be especially useful for the person with cancer.

"They can use them to let family and friends know how things are going without having to keep explaining things over and over again. "

But he said it was important to recognise that all cancer experiences were not the same.

"It is important to remember that the experiences described on personal websites, online diaries and message boards are very personal and may not reflect how cancer affects other people, even when they have the same type of cancer."

'Significant rise' in skin cancer
06 Sep 05 |  Scotland


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