Tazmyn Patterson, 30, lives in East Belfast with husband Jordan, 27, and daughters Dillyn, 10, Saylor, seven, and son Boss, 19 months, reports The Sun.
She said: "Lying under the fluorescent light of the sunbed, I smiled, thinking about the golden tan I’d have for my night out. Now, I wish I could go back in time and tell that girl no tan is worth what I’ve gone through.
In October 2014, aged 23, I had a small mole on my neck removed after it became raised and crusty, bleeding occasionally. A fortnight later, I sat stunned in the dermatologist’s office as he told me I had melanoma – AKA skin cancer – very likely caused by my sunbed use.
Since 16, I’d used a sunbed three times a week, ironically believing I looked healthier with a tan. He explained I needed surgery to remove any melanoma cells and reduce the risk of it returning. I cringe now when I think how blasé I was, telling everyone it could be cut away and I’d be fine.
That December, I spent a week in hospital having surgery, which left me with a 12cm scar. For the next five years, I had regular skin and mole checks, and kept my promise to my dermatologist to stop using sunbeds.”
‘I won’t give up’
In July 2019, Tazmyn and her fiancé Jordan were delighted when she became pregnant with their third child and got married the following month.
However, although Tazmyn has been told there was always a risk of the melanoma returning, she said she “really believed it was in the past”.
But a month into their marriage, she “felt a hard lump in my neck and froze with terror”.
The next day, an ultrasound and biopsy revealed Tazmyn had melanoma in her lymph nodes, meaning it was now stage 3.
Tazmyn added: “My first thoughts were for my baby boy – I was 16 weeks pregnant, and was devastated when I learned melanoma can pass through the placenta. It wasn’t just me at risk now.”
In November 2019, Tazmyn had the lymph nodes near the cancer site removed, but tests revealed her cancer was spreading quickly and the medical advice was that she needed to deliver her baby prematurely.
On New Year’s Eve, Boss was born at 30 weeks by C-section, weighing 3lb 2oz.
Tazmyn’s cancer is now stage 4, with only 30% of people at this stage of melanoma surviving for five years or more.
The mum said: “I won’t give up, and have been having immunotherapy to fight it. My daughters Dillyn and Saylor know I’m sick, but believe doctors will make me better, while Boss is thankfully oblivious.
“Jordan has been my rock, and moments like all of us watching a Disney movie together mean everything. Last month, I celebrated my 30th birthday with friends and family. It was an amazing night and I believe in seizing every opportunity to enjoy life”.
“Since I was first diagnosed, I’ve not been on a sunbed, I always wear SPF50 and share my journey on social media to raise awareness. I have to believe I’ll see my children grow up. If you don’t have hope, you don’t have anything,” she added.
A JustGiving page has been created to help support Tazmyn and her family.