Meet Shane

Skin cancer survivor Shane with his family on a walk

Shane is married to wife Denise who is a hairdresser and they’ve been married for more than 25 years. They have two children, a son Jack who is a Teacher and a daughter Mollie who is a sales supervisor at a builder’s merchant. Shane works as a Landscape sales sector manager for one of the UK’s largest tiles and landscape companies and has been in the industry for more than 25 years.

In April 2017, age 41, Shane was diagnosed with melanoma skin cancer in the base of his back. He underwent surgery to remove the mole and had a sentinel lymph node biopsy in his groin for which the results came back clear. Shane was later diagnosed with secondary melanoma skin cancer in November 2018 when a tumour was found in the lymph nodes in his right arm. He underwent immunotherapy treatment which finished in March 2020. Shane is keen to raise awareness of melanoma skin cancer, particularly in the landscaping and building industry where many people work outdoors and don’t use enough sun protection.

Shane was a landscaper in the construction industry, installing driveways and patios for more than 12 years before more recently going into the management side of the industry and now works with customers which include the likes of Jewson, Travis Perkins and Selco. He worked outdoors most of the day alongside his dad who was also in the industry and said that he didn’t really think about covering up or using sunscreen as awareness was not like it is today. In the summer months, he’d spend hours a day outdoors with no sunscreen. He says many summers he would get burnt with his top off.

In April 2017 Shane had a mole on the side of his face that ‘looked like a love spot’ and he wasn’t happy with how it looked for cosmetic reasons, so thought it should be looked at. After examining the mole on Shane’s face the doctors asked to check all his body for moles. This is when they discovered a suspicious mole on his back. Shane was referred to hospital for further checks.

A week later Shane was asked to go to hospital to have a biopsy on the mole and a week after that he was called back for the results. He sat down with a specialist and was told that the biopsy showed Malignant Melanoma skin cancer and he was referred to a specialist team.

He said “I had further surgery to have the melanoma skin cancer removed from my back, a wide local excision, and then some lymph nodes from my groin removed as a precaution to check if the cancer had spread. I also had another two moles taken from my back.”

Thankfully, a scan revealed that the surgery had removed the malignant mole and the biopsy in his groin came back clear so there was nothing more that needed to be done, until November 25th 2018 when everything changed again.

Shane had been at an industry awards evening in London at the weekend. The following morning, he said he felt awful, like he’d been to the gym and his body was aching all over. A lump around 10cm in size ‘like a tennis ball’ had appeared in his right armpit.

He went to work on the Monday thinking that it’d probably be ok, and he would start to feel better, but by lunchtime he knew something wasn’t right. The lump under his arm had not budged and he was feeling ‘groggy’. Shane took himself to A and E at Royal South Hants hospital with a fever and suspected infection. He had some tests and was taken for an ultrasound which showed a mass that doctors didn’t like the look of. A week later Shane had a CT scan.

“My wife and I didn’t expect anything bad as I was feeling back to my normal self after a prescription of antibiotics and the swelling had reduced, although not disappeared. We just put it down to a virus.

“The doctor then said they wanted to remove all lymph nodes under my arm, where there was a 4.5cm mass.”

It was three days before Christmas 2018 that Shane was told he had cancer. The lump under his arm was an infection in his lymph node that had highlighted the tumour in his body. He was told that the melanoma skin cancer he’d had the previous year had spread. Although he’d had his lymph nodes close to the groin removed, the ones near his arm pit had not been touched and these were the ones now affected.

Shane said that he had to wait over Christmas before he could be operated on as there was no operating through the Christmas period.

Shane then had surgery to remove 26 lymph nodes from under his arm and the tumour. He took a month off work to recover and said that thankfully his work was incredibly supportive.

Shane had to have 12 doses of immunotherapy treatment following surgery. They were to be once a month for a year. The cancer was classed as a BRAF negative melanoma skin cancer and he took the immunotherapy drug Nivolumab, a new targeted therapy drug that boosts your immune system and that is designed to get rid of any lingering cells. Six months into the treatment, scans were coming back clear.

Shane said the treatment knocked him out for an afternoon but the next day he'd felt well enough to go back to work. His year of treatment ended in March 2020 and he now has scans once a year.

He is now very careful about the sun and has been advised to wear factor 50 sunscreen through the months of April to October, and while he’s on holiday he’ll always cover up, put on a hat, and stay out of the sun.

Shane has taken part in the Great South Run for Cancer Research UK and joined former Southampton FC player, Fran Benali’s fundraising mission for Cancer Research UK.