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Last Updated: Wednesday, 8 June, 2005, 13:09 GMT 14:09 UK
DJ's parents warn of cancer risks
By Hannah Bayman
BBC News

Alexandra Lines
Alex had been booked to DJ at the London club Turnmills in April
Alex Lines was not a sun worshipper or a tanorexic.

The music student and DJ wore sun cream on holiday, used fake tan and had only been on sunbeds a handful of times.

But just weeks ago Alex died at home with her parents at her bedside, from an aggressive brain tumour caused by skin cancer. She was 22 years old.

John and Jennifer Lines, from Romford in Essex, want their daughter's death to act as a stark warning that even a little sun can sometimes be too much.

The family are angry that their daughter's death has been described as "death by suntan" by newspapers.

They say the truth is even more shocking - that skin cancer can strike even those like Alex, who had what most would have considered a sensible approach to the sun.

Mr and Mrs Lines want to urge other people, especially those with red or blonde hair like Alex, to avoid suntanning and get any changing moles checked immediately.

Action-packed girl

Mr Lines told the BBC News website: "It is better to be safe than sorry, especially if you're fair-skinned or have any history of melanoma in your family.

"Alex did not enjoy lying around on holiday on the beach or by the pool.

"She was an action-packed kind of girl and got her fun from scuba diving, surfing, kite-surfing, skiing and snowboarding holidays."

Alex Lines (centre) with friends on an evening out, November 2004
Friends are planning a boat party on the Thames in her memory

Alex, who played the cello, saxophone, clarinet and piano, was studying music at Redbridge College in Romford.

She was booked to DJ at the London club Turnmills in April, but by that time she was already terminally ill.

Her family and tutors plan to release the last song she composed as a charity single to promote greater awareness of skin cancer.

Tutor Kevin Anderson described it as a "moody, orchestral track" and said they were looking for a record company or distributor.

"Alex was an amazing student. She had such energy and drive and never liked to start something and not finish it," he said.

Students and tutors also hope to organise a gig at Turnmills with some of Alex's favourite house DJs, to raise money for cancer research, while friends are planning a memorial boat party on the Thames.

Alexandra Lines DJing
The 22-year-old started a music course days after surgery for cancer

Alex was told she had cancer in February 2003 after going to her GP when a mole on her right thigh started to change colour and bleed.

Doctors cut the mole out, only for secondary tumours to appear elsewhere on her body.

She fought the illness for two years and despite undergoing numerous operations managed to go on holiday, start her college course, learn to ride a new motorbike and create a website with photographs of her nights out with friends.

In February this year, Alex was taken to hospital after collapsing at her brother Oliver's 28th birthday party.

Friends feared her drink had been spiked but in hospital doctors discovered that she had an inoperable tumour on her brain.

She was given just days to live, but survived another three months before dying at home on 14 May.

Mr and Mrs Lines, who both have uncles who developed melanoma, have called for screening for the illness to be carried out at a young age.

The family has so far raised more than 1,000 in Alex's memory for the Royal Marsden Cancer Campaign.

SunSmart Code

Mr Lines said: "It was Alexandra's wish that we should raise money for cancer.

"Even during these past months of her life she remained caring and supportive, never complaining.

"It was these qualities that touched the hearts of everyone that knew her."

Cancer Research UK say 7,300 people are diagnosed with malignant melanoma every year and of these, 1,600 will not survive their first five years with the illness.

A spokesman said: "Cancer Research UK's SunSmart code advises people to avoid the midday sun, not to burn, to cover up with clothing and to use SPF15+ sunscreen.

"Fair-skinned people are particularly at risk, as are those with lots of moles.

"Any case of sunburn can increase your risk of melanoma while taking care in the sun can greatly reduce the risk of this disease."


SEE ALSO:
Gene clue to deadly skin cancer
28 Mar 05 |  Health


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