Woman left with a 'hole' in her head after tanning bed obsession nearly killed her

Woman left with a ‘hole’ in her head after tanning bed obsession nearly killed her

A mum has been left with a hole in her head after her tanning bed obsession nearly killed her.

Nickie Murtagh, 37, who battled skin cancer, is now dedicated to warning others about the deadly disease.

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Nickie Murtagh, pictured in 2017, became obsessed with lounge chairsCredit: Jam Press
Nickie wants to warn others about the risks of sun and UV exposure

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Nickie wants to warn others about the risks of sun and UV exposureCredit: Caters
Sun and UV exposure over the years has caused pigmentation on Nickie's skin

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Sun and UV exposure over the years has caused pigmentation on Nickie’s skinCredit: Jam Press

The Londoner started using sun loungers in her early 20s, as her friend owned a sun lounger shop.

She steadily increased her use until she became addicted – jumping on the tanning bed up to twice a week for 8-12 minutes.

In 2016, Nickie noticed a bald spot the size of a small fingernail along the exposed parting in her blonde hair.

Nickie previously told The Sun: “I made an appointment with my GP and was told I had a small cyst which was nothing to worry about and was safe to go without treatment.

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“But over the next two years it continued to grow slowly. Eventually it was the size of a penny.”

After friends and family urged her to have the strange mass checked again, but her GP still believed the problem was ‘cosmetic’.

She told NeedToKnow.online: “The doctor said she would refer me because of the size, but not to expect an appointment because she thought it was fine.”

Three months later, Nickie went on her date. In May 2018, he was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

CBC is one of the most common forms of non-melanoma skin cancer.

Nickie, who is mum to Sophie, 19, Ruby, 15, and Ryan, 13, said: “I work at Royal Marsden Hospital so I’ve seen a lot of cancers but that word gives me chills.

“We didn’t even want to tell the kids because we knew they couldn’t see the past of that word.”

Doctors removed the cancerous lump and the skin around it in a two-hour procedure in December 2018, which Nickie was awake for.

A skin graft was taken from his thigh to cover the hole in his head.

“Afterwards, I felt like I had a big crater on my head,” Nickie said.

“When I lifted my phone and took a photo, to see what it looked like, I was shocked to see how much of my scalp had been removed.

“Then the hole was filled with tissue from my leg and a dressing was applied while it healed.

“But luckily it was good news, when the tissue was examined it was clear there was no cancer.”

The hole in Nickie's head after she removed a tumor the size of a ping-pong ball from her scalp

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The hole in Nickie’s head after she removed a tumor the size of a ping-pong ball from her scalpCredit: PrimeFeatures Agency
Nickie ended up with a

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Nickie was left with a ‘crater’ in her head after surgeryCredit: PrimeFeatures Agency
Nickie's head now

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Nickie’s head nowCredit: Jam Press
Nickie also has melasma - dark spots or freckles that appear every time the sun comes out

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Nickie also has melasma – dark spots or freckles that appear every time the sun comes outCredit: Jam Press

However, after her operation, the mother-of-three said she ‘felt depressed’ and feared she was a ‘ticking time bomb’.

She said: “I’m always worried about a comeback because skin cancer usually comes back. The fear is real and never goes away.

“I now have my skin and moles checked regularly, I still have huge scars and awful skin on my face from sun damage, especially melasma.”

Melasma is a skin condition characterized by brown or blue-gray spots or freckle-like patches, which appear on Nickie every time the sun rises.

Nickie said: “I’ve tried so many treatments for this but nothing works, which shows the damage I’ve done.

“I don’t like how I look now – but these are my battle scars and a forever reminder that I have my life, so I will do anything. I can help move this horrible cancer awareness forward. “

Nickie is now dedicated to raising awareness of the harms of sun exposure and tanning beds.

Her own cancer, BCC, usually appears as a flesh-colored bump that can look pearly and shiny, according to the Mayo Clinic.

On brown and black skin, the bump often looks shiny brown or black.

Skin cancer melanoma, the deadliest form, most often causes the transformation of a mole.

Most experts recommend using the simple “ABCDE” rule to check for symptoms of melanoma skin cancer.

Nickie said she “often forgot to wear sunscreen” and was “too vain to wear hats”.

She said in 2019: “I knew all about sun protection. But my inability to apply this knowledge to myself left a hole in my head and scars on my leg.

“At first, I kept thinking that I’m not the ‘typical’ skin cancer patient who has taken lots of vacations abroad and is a sun worshiper.

“But now I realize that there is no typical patient with skin cancer.”

Nickie regularly posts her quest to improve her skin on TikTok, while warning others not to be mistaken.

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In a recent video, she shocked viewers by turning the camera on the hole in her head right after warning ‘stay away from loungers and use SPF’.

After showing the damage to her face, Nickie said, “While we’re at it, let’s look at the skin cancer,” before tilting her scalp towards the camera.

Nickie began by showing viewers the pigmentation in her skin caused by sun damage

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Nickie began by showing viewers the pigmentation in her skin caused by sun damageCredit: TikTok/ @nickienoomurtagh
But she shocked viewers by showing the horrific hole left in her head by skin cancer

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But she shocked viewers by showing the horrific hole left in her head by skin cancerCredit: TikTok/ @nickienoomurtagh

Die for a tan

The Fabulous’ Dying For A Tan campaign raises awareness of the dangers of sunbed use, which can increase the risk of skin cancer and cause premature aging.

There are around 7,000 tanning salons in Britain, with some offering sessions from just 50p a minute.

Children as young as EIGHT use deckchairs, apparently unaware that they are playing Russian roulette with their health.

According to Cancer Research UK, the risk of skin cancer with melanoma is 16-25% higher in people who have used a tanning bed (at any age) than in people who have never used a sunbed. Sun tanning.

Indeed, sunbeds bombard the skin with such powerful UV rays that increase the risk of developing malignant melanoma – the most serious form of skin cancer.

Just 20 minutes on one equals four hours in the sun – with many rays stronger than the midday Mediterranean rays.

In many cases, the damage is invisible until it is too late, as it can take up to 20 years to show up.

About 16,000 new cases of melanoma skin cancer are diagnosed each year in the UK, or 44 every day.

There are approximately 2,300 skin cancer deaths from melanoma each year, or more than six a day.

This is part of the reason the World Health Organization has deemed tanning beds to be as dangerous as smoking.

That’s why Fabulous says it’s time to stop dying for a tan.


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