Sunbed cancer will kill me in 8 weeks but I’m smiling
for kids’ sake
FLICKING through the holiday park brochure, Louise Cook happily plans to whisk her three lively kids away.
She knows Summer, six, Mason, four, and Chloe, 18 months, will have the time of their lives.
But at just 27, Louise faces the heartbreak that the trip will provide some of their last shared memories.
Louise has cancer and has been given just eight weeks to live after using sunbeds three times a week for two years.
The brave mum says: “I was young and naive and will pay for that with my life. But I refuse to let cancer define our lives while I’m still here. I’ll keep happy for my babies, they make me smile every day.”
Now, as Louise prepares for her children to grow up without a mum, she is desperate for Sun readers to be aware of the dangers of sunbeds.
Louise, who is married to Martyn Cook, 25, was diagnosed with malignant melanoma when she was nine weeks pregnant with their daughter, Chloe.
Just 15 weeks later she was told the cancer was terminal, having spread to her ovaries and brain.
Louise, from Thetford, Norfolk, says: “I thought having a tan would help my self-esteem after a break- up. Because of that I will not be here to watch my beautiful kids grow up. I didn’t really believe sunbeds could be so dangerous because they were so easily accessible.
“I fear other young men and women will make the same mistake as me and put their image before their health.
“If you want a tan, get a spray one. Children shouldn’t lose their mummies because of sunbeds.”
Initially there was no age limit on sunbeds in the UK, but in April 2011 the Government introduced a law banning under-18s.
Salons that admit minors now face a £20,000 fine and could be shut down. But with more than 73,000 new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in Britain each year, Louise says these precautions are not enough.
She adds: “I would like to see the UK follow Australia and introduce a ban. How can we expect young people to believe sunbeds can give you cancer when they see them in every beauty salon, hairdresser’s and gym?”
Louise, a fashion retail supervisor, was 23 when she split from her first husband. As a single mum with two small kids, she feared she might never find love again.
She explains: “My confidence was low so I started doing things to boost my self-esteem, including the sunbed. Having always been pale, I soon started receiving compliments on my tan and it felt good.”
She was soon using sunbeds three times a week.
In February 2013 she met Martyn, who is in the RAF, and five months later they were overjoyed to discover she was pregnant.
Louise then stopped using sunbeds. But just a month later a mole on her back began to itch and bleed.
Unaware it was a sign of skin cancer, Louise ignored it.
Martyn’s mum urged her to get a skin cancer check in Perth and the GP sent her to hospital to have it removed.
Louise was ten weeks pregnant when she was told it was a cancerous melanoma and was referred to a specialist at the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital to see if the cancer had spread.
She says: “I wasn’t overly worried and was hopeful it had been caught early.”
But six weeks later Louise discovered a lump in her neck — she knew it was cancer and tests confirmed the worst.
Martyn flew back from a tour of Afghanistan to be by her side. It was then the couple learned they were having a baby girl.
But their joy was short-lived as an MRI scan ahead of an operation to remove the tumour revealed further lesions on Louise’s lung.
The devastated couple were told the cancer was now stage four and incurable.
Louise says: “I just cried. I was 24 weeks pregnant, with two small children at home, and being told I was terminally ill with cancer.
“I asked my consultant to help me live as long as possible for the children.
“When I came round from the op and heard my baby’s heartbeat on a monitor I cried tears of joy.”
Louise was induced at 37 weeks and baby Chloe was delivered in perfect health, weighing 6lb 3oz.
The couple married on June 4, 2014, when Chloe was four months old. That December, scans showed new lesions on Louise’s brain.
It was devastating news. While radiation therapy had been successful in reducing her brain tumours, recent scans showed more had developed in her ovaries.
Doctors have told Louise she has just two months to live.
She now wants to make the most of the precious time she has left with her children.
Friends are fundraising to help the family make some lasting memories.
She says: “My dream is to take the kids to Center Parcs for one last little family break.
“I hope Summer and Mason will have memories of me but it breaks my heart that Chloe will be too young to remember me.
“I gently explained that Mummy will be an angel soon but they could still talk to me all the time.
“I’ll keep smiling and keep fighting for my children as long as I can.”
Source : The Sun Newspaper