Deborah Meaden (Getty Images)
Deborah Meaden has revealed the spots her makeup artist urged her to get checked by a doctor turned out to be cancerous.
The businesswoman, 63, who lives in Somerset, spoke candidly for the first time about her experience with skin cancer in a conversation with Vogue Williams on the latest episode of Boots’ Taboo Talk podcast.
She admitted to thinking that she was “immune” to the condition, prior to being diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma.
According to the NHS, SCC appears as a firm pink lump with a rough or crusted surface. It is tender to touch and can bleed easily. The condition can cause “considerable” damage if the tumour isn’t treated.
Deborah admitted that she was aware of how the sun could damage skin, saying: “I’m quite fair skinned, but oddly I’ve never really burnt. I think that was a problem for me.
“I kind of thought that I was immune to it. I thought I might look fair, but obviously my skin can handle it. It was a bit of a shock when I realised there was some damage to my skin.”
She explained that she would use SPF 20 on her face, but lower factors on her body and admitted that she would often forget to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
Deborah said she used the skincare products because she wanted to reduce the signs of ageing, however the risk of cancer didn’t cross her mind.
The TV personality told how her Dragons’ Den makeup artist noticed a white head on her face for six weeks, which seemed unusual as she didn’t usually get spots.
Deborah said: “I sent a picture to my doctor, who said “hmm that could be something” and he got me an appointment with the local hospital.
“They said you’ve got a squamous. Squamous cell cancer in itself is not dangerous, but it can turn into something if you don’t catch it early enough. He wasn’t panicking and I went off to holiday in Africa, came back and then had it removed.”
Deborah’s diagnosis is now clear and she takes care of her skin by wearing factor 50 products, while also choosing clothes and a hat that keep her covered from harmful sun rays.
She continued: “When I say I was lucky, we caught it incredibly early. I’m evangelical now about saying to people “if you’ve got a little odd pimple that won’t go,don’t just think it’s a pimple.”
“I’ve always looked for moles. I know all the rules about moles but I never looked for something that actually looks like a white head.
“I would never have known if it wasn’t for Sue, thank goodness.”
The podcast went on to advise listeners to wear a minimum of SPF 30 daily and explained that it’s important to wear sunscreen on flights as you’re closer to the sun.
According to Cancer Research UK, there are around 16,744 new cases of melanoma skin cancer each year.
Born 11 February 1959, Deborah Sonia Meaden who lives in Somerset, became an inspiring entrepreneur after studying business at college. She launched her own ceramics business at just 19, but chose to leave it in favour of different business ventures after her products started to appear in other shops without her consent.
Before her fame as a panellist on BBC’s Dragons’ Den, Deborah worked her way up through the ranks at Weststar Holidays and secured funding from Lloyds to take over the business. She sold it in a deal worth £33m in 2005, while retaining a 23% stake and an active role within the firm. The businesswoman later went on to sell the stake for £83m.
Today, Deborah has investments in a variety of businesses including fast drying towels and fashion inspired by nature.
Born: 11 February 1959, in Taunton
Lives: A 10-bedroom country estate in Somerset
Relationship: Paul Meaden, married since 1993
Weath: £40 million net worth, according to The Sun
Speaking about her social class to The Guardian, Deborah said: “I never needed people to like me, to prove I fitted in. I was happy being me. And there was no point me trying to pretend to be terribly posh. Or not posh.”
Commenting on snobbery, she added: “I can’t stand it because it’s always founded on the wrong thing. It’s founded on money, or education. It’s never founded on, ‘that’s a good person’, or ‘they’re in a difficult situation’”
Deborah met her husband Paul in 1985, when he took a job at her holiday company during his break from university. They broke up briefly when Deborah decided that she didn’t want to have children, however they rekindled their relationship and wed in 1993.
The couple, who live in a 10-bedroom mansion in Somerset, have many pets including horses, pigs, sheep and geese. Deborah previously revealed that she doesn’t do any housework and Paul is responsible for all domestic duties.
Peter Jones is the only original member left on Dragons’ Den from when it first aired in 2005. The 56-year-old, from Maidenhead, previously teamed up with Deborah to invest in a luxury gifting company which represents people of colour. Peter, who has investments in media, leisure and property, is worth an estimated £1.157bn according to The Sunday Times Rich List in 2021.
Back in April 2020, Deborah blasted fellow Dragons’ Den panellist Sara Davies for interrupting her as she gave Joe Metcalfe feedback on his pitch for second-hand clothing brand Thrift+. "Don’t ever ‘All due respect’ me,” Deborah told Sara.
The disagreement was quickly resolved as Sara later tweeted saying that she wouldn’t say the phrase again and added “good job we’re friends hey @DeborahMeaden!”.
Sara, 38, from County Durham, is an entrepreneur, who founded Crafter’s Companion, and became the youngest female investor on Dragons’ Den when she joined the show in 2019.