A SKIN cancer survivor is backing a campaign urging people to enjoy the sun safely this summer.

With the country in the throes of a heatwave, Chandler's Ford resident Jan Kirby is keen to raise awareness of the disease.

The 67-year-old was successfully treated for melanoma skin cancer after her daughter pushed her to visit her GP about an unusual mole on her leg.

The mum of two has joined forces with Cancer Research UK and NIVEA Sun to help people protect their skin from the sun's rays.

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Jan said: "Being diagnosed with melanoma was a huge shock and a very difficult time. I didn't accept it as cancer at first.

"I wouldn't wish what I went through on anybody and would encourage everyone to take care.

"I hope I can encourage people to think about their sun habits and take precautions.

"Sunburn doesn't just happen abroad or on summer holidays. It can happen in the UK, even on a cloudy day.

"It's really important that people take care."

Jan first spotted an unusual-looking mole on her leg 15 years ago and her daughter Lisa "urged" her to get it checked.

Hampshire Chronicle: Jan Kirby with her grandchildren

She said: "I went to my GP at Fryern Surgery and the speed at which he referred me to hospital made me realise something was wrong.

"The doctors at the Royal Hampshire County Hospital in Winchester did a small operation to analyse it, then once we knew what we were dealing with, I had a larger operation to remove the area around it.

"Now I'm much more sun-safety aware compared to when I was in my teens.

"Back then there was very little information about the dangers of the sun and I didn't take any precautions.

"There's so much more information now and I encourage people to stay aware about changes to their body and skin and talk to their doctor about any concerns.

"It's good to be vigilant and because I got my mole checked it means that I'm around to see my grandchildren who are three and five, growing up."

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Those at higher risk of developing skin cancer include people with fair skin and hair, or light-coloured eyes, as well as people with lots of moles and freckles or a family history of skin cancer.

Karis Betts, health information manager at Cancer Research UK, said: "It's important to remember the sun isn't only strong abroad.

"It can be strong enough in Hampshire and across the UK to burn between mid-March and mid-October and is strongest during the middle of the day, not when it's hottest.

"Whether you're abroad, having a staycation or just out-and-about, remember the three-step method to enjoy warm weather safely seek shade, cover up and regularly apply sunscreen."

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