A mum-of-two who was 'addicted' to sunbeds as a teenager was given a devastating cancer diagnosis after years of tanning.
Adele Hughes, 41, would visit sunbed shops up to four times a week – but in December 2019 she received a shock diagnosis during a routine skin check.
Originally from Huyton, Adele moved to Hong Kong nearly 13 years ago, where she lives with her daughters Sienna And Elise, and their three toy poodles.
Since her diagnosis, Adele has bravely chosen to share her story in the hopes of warning other young people about the important of keeping safe in the sun.
May 2021 is Skin Cancer Awareness Month, and Adele is continuing with her campaign to raise awareness of skin cancer and sun safety saw in her new role as an ambassador for Melanoma UK.
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Speaking to the ECHO in 2020, Adele said: "I was brought up in Liverpool and from the age of 16 I used to use the sunbeds. I used them for about two years and I would be on them three or four times a week.
"I think I was about 17 when I had my first mole removed but I thought I was fine and it didn't stop me.
"I would go no the sunbeds, I would sunbathe until I was red. I haven't got that type of skin to tan so I would just burn.
"I turned 40 in January and in December 2019 I had a regular skin check and I went along to my dermatologist and he saw suspicious looking moles on my nipple and on my back.
"He took them off and on Christmas Eve I was called back and told I had nodular melanoma in my nipple and malignant melanoma in my back."
Nodular melanoma is the most aggressive form of melanoma because it grows and spreads quickly and can often go unnoticed.
The dermatologist removed Adele's moles and initially diagnosed her as having stage one melanoma.
But she had to undergo surgery to remove part of her breast and also cut out a large chunk from her back.
Further tests revealed the cancer had spread to Adele's lymph nodes and she was diagnosed with stage three melanoma.
Adele said: "I'd just gone in for a routine check, I hadn't noticed anything suspicious because one of the moles was on my back so I couldn't see it for myself. Thank god I had that check up."
Having to undergo these surgeries was a gruelling ordeal for Adele, who admitted she was "scared" to look at her own breasts after the procedures.
Shortly after overcoming these first surgeries, Adele noticed another mole growing in her belly button, which hadn't been present at her routine check up in December 2019.
She said: "In the space of a few weeks it had appeared and grown really big. [The dermatologist] took it off and I was told it was malignant melanoma.
"They had to take away my belly button and reconstruct it. I felt like my whole body was being cut into chunks – all for the sake of a tan."
Further cancerous cells were also found in Adele's left groin which had to be removed in another surgery last year.
Living so far away from her mum and dad, who still live in Huyton, means Adele has had to battle through her treatment without her family being there to support her in person.
And travel restrictions brought about as a result of the coronavirus pandemic have made any family visits impossible for Adele, who finished her treatment in March this year.
Despite being 6,000 miles away, Adele's mum would wake up at 5am on her treatment days to support her and accompany her via FaceTime.
Adele has also been using her blog 'The Melanoma in Me' as a way of expressing herself and trying to reach out to others.
Her powerful posts, pictures and poems are her way of processing everything she's going through.
Many of her posts include family photos of her enjoying life with her two daughters.
Adele said: "Because I'm a mum and my priority is them, all I can think about is 'what if'. I know I shouldn't but it's in the back of my mind."
Now that Adele's treatment is complete, she is having three-monthly checks to monitor her progress.
Speaking to the ECHO last year, she said: "Because I'm stage three and it's gone into my lymph nodes it's never going to be a case of being in remission, it could always be hiding and we need to constantly watch and monitor."
Adele wants to warn others of the danger of using sunbeds and also of exposing themselves to the sun without the adequate protection.
She said: "Because I've got red hair naturally and fair skin, the fact I was on sunbeds at an early age will have contributed.
"In my 20s I would sunbathe and even in recent years when we would go on holiday around Asia.
"I see people on social media showing off their tan lines now and I just think 'if only you could see what this has done to me'.
"I would just like people to look after their skin, be sun safe ad when they go into the sun, wear factor 50, wear things that cover your skin.
"Stay out of the sun between 12pm and 4pm when it's strongest and be aware of what it can do to you."