A Llangollen couple are contributing to a national campaign this Melanoma Awareness Month to encourage everyone to stay safe in the sun and look out for signs of potential skin cancer.

James Rush, a former tree surgeon and retained firefighter at Llangollen Fire Station, was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma skin cancer in 2020, a week before the UK’s first lockdown.

He said: "Receiving this diagnosis within a few weeks of welcoming our daughter, and while the world was dealing with COVID made it a very difficult time.

"I had previously had a melanoma surgically removed, but it was considered stage 0 and I was given the all-clear.

"Five years later I developed a cough, the result of metastatic melanoma that had spread to my lymph nodes, liver and bowel.”

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James underwent major surgery and has just completed two years of monthly immunotherapy treatment.

He was initially treated at Glan Clwyd, but transferred to the Christie in Manchester after surgery, where there is a large specialist melanoma department.

James added: “Depending how my recent and future scans go will determine whether I need more doses. It would be nice to think I didn’t, but obviously it’s unpredictable. 

"I am grateful to Dr Cooper and the team at Llangollen Health Centre – he made what was probably an overly-cautious initial referral that has been life-saving.”

Denbighshire Free Press: Jen Rush (far right) joined others to raise awareness and promote the #KnowYourSkin campaign to MPs.Jen Rush (far right) joined others to raise awareness and promote the #KnowYourSkin campaign to MPs.

James and his wife, Jen, who has just been elected as Llangollen's Deputy Mayor after winning a town council seat earlier this month, work with the charity Melanoma Focus through her local digital marketing agency.

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James has designed the #KnowYourSkin campaign posters, which are appearing in service stations and offices throughout the UK this month.

Denbighshire Free Press: The poster is one of four designs appearing throughout the UK.The poster is one of four designs appearing throughout the UK.

This week, Jen attended a parliamentary event to raise awareness of the charity’s #KnowYourSkin campaign, together with clinicians, patients and the Patron of Melanoma Focus, Chris Bryant MP.

The family would like to share Melanoma Focus’ message this melanoma awareness month – wear SPF 30+ and visit your GP if you’re concerned about a mole or lesion.

Jen: “86% of melanoma cases can be avoided by protecting your skin from the sun and, if diagnosed early, melanoma is usually very easy to treat with minor surgery.

"I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what our family has in the last couple of years – please avoid sunbeds and protect your skin when enjoying the (hopefully!) good weather this summer.

"If you’re worried about a mole or spot anything changing on your skin, don’t put off visiting your GP – early diagnosis saves countless lives.”

 You can find out more information about melanoma and sun safety on the Melanoma Focus website.