Brian Echlin loved to feel the rays on his skin, anywhere, anytime. Holiday beaches, apartment balconies, beside the hotel pool and regular ‘six minute holidays’ in tanning booths.
Then in 2007, after being referred to the specialist skin service for opinion on two scabs on his chest, came a shock. They were basal-cell carcinomas (BCCs) – the most common skin cancer.
Brian, 46, from Wynyard, said: I’ve always loved being in sunshine, ever since I was a small child. I can remember the days back in the summers during the 70s when I’d be down on the beach with my parents, but I can never remember having suncream on.
“There were loads of times when I had the calamine lotion on to cool down the sunburn. As I’ve grown through life, I’ve lived for hot holidays and felt happy at having a healthy tan.”
The menswear manager at fashion store Psyche added: “In this line of work, being image-conscious is part and parcel of the job. Before I was diagnosed with the BCCs, every day during my lunch break I’d nip over the road and have six minutes in a tanning booth, but now after seeing that I was ‘overdosing’ my skin to radiation, I regret the frequency of my visits.”
Brian, who used to be a hairdresser and even moved to Spain for a six-month period because of his desire to be in sunshine, said: “Now, I’m so much more careful about looking after my skin.
“When on holidays I always apply suncream and wear T-shirts. Over the past four and a half years I’ve been treated for 12 BCCs and now I have regular three-monthly check-ups. I’ve seen first-hand the damage excessive radiation can cause. It was a big shock when I was first told, but thankfully for me they were found in time.
“I would urge anyone who has a scab on their skin that wasn’t a result of a recent cut to visit your GP and if you are referred to the specialist skin service at One Life in Middlesbrough you’ll find an amazing group of friendly staff. I can’t fault their fantastic support and advice and the doctors are brilliant.”