‘Magazine article saved my life’

Julie Budd's cancer experience has inspired her to take part in Race for Life. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150850-2)
Julie Budd's cancer experience has inspired her to take part in Race for Life. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (150850-2)
  • Grandmother ignored unusual spot on her nose
  • Read a magazine article detailing the cancer diagnosis of woman with same condition
  • Days later doctors confirmed she had the disease
  • Cancer claimed her father’s life last year
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Julie Budd has been an avid reader of women’s magazine for years – she loves the scandalous stories, recipes and real life drama.

One day the 47-year-old was flicking through the features in one of her favourites when she spotted an article that really stood out.

She says: ‘I had been reading that particular magazine for years but never expected it to save my life.’

The article, in Take a Break magazine, focused on a woman who had been diagnosed with skin cancer after ignoring a mark on her nose, similar to one that Julie had on her nose.

She says: ‘I had a spot which didn’t hurt me so I didn’t do anything about it.

‘It was just a small flaw in my skin which looked like I had a bit of cling film on my nose.’

Even though it had been there for a couple of months it didn’t bother her so she decided to ignore it.

‘But I couldn’t believe it when I was reading the article because that woman had ignored it too, just like I had been doing.

‘I knew after reading it that I had to go to the doctor and get it checked out.’

A few days later Julie found herself in the waiting room of her local doctor’s surgery – hoping for the best but trying to prepare herself for worst.

The grandmother, from Southsea, soon discovered it was skin cancer and the hospital acted quickly.

‘I was referred straight to hospital,’ says Julie.

‘A biopsy was done the same day and an appointment was made for me to return and have it removed,’ Julie says.

In the months after the initial biopsy, Julie kept having to go to the hospital to see doctors for regular check-ups.

It prolonged the stress of the cancer diagnosis but she knew it had to be done.

‘I didn’t have any obvious symptoms and I am pretty sure if I had not read the article about the other lady, I would not have been concerned enough to go to the doctor when I did,’ said Julie.

That was in 2007, and Julie was given the all-clear six months later.

But she now has to use high factor cream to protect her skin in sunshine.

Julie says: ‘I don’t have the magazine article but I wish I had kept it.’

Following the shock of her diagnosis, and then the relief of being told she was cancer free, Julie looked forward to a life without the horrible disease.

But more heartache was on the horizon.

Her beloved father Leslie was told that he had terminal lung and bowel cancer.

‘It was a shock as there was nothing that anyone could do for him,’ says Julie.

The cancer was discovered when the 73-year-old went into hospital for an unrelated complaint.

Julie says: ‘He was given a body scan which highlighted a shadow on his lung and he was told there was nothing they could do as the tumour was so large.’

Throughout his illness Julie helped her mum with her father’s care and doctor’s appointments.

‘It was hard as it took me back to when I had my illness but I had to help my dad out with what he needed,’ she says.

Leslie was a larger-than-life public figure, who was known well in the Landport area of Portsmouth, where he worked for many years.

But as he gradually became more ill he lost the desire to leave the house, to see friends or go out.

It was hard for Julie to watch her father losing his zest for life and not wanting to go out.

And it was then she decided to do something about the cruel disease that was attacking her family.

She says: ‘When my dad was ill and the nurses were coming my daughter decided she wanted to raise money for Macmillan nurses,’

The final few days of her father’s life were particularly hard for Julie and her family. He died just over a year ago.

This spurred Julie on to raise money for Macmillan Nurses and Cancer Research UK.

‘So much has happened over the past year or so and I am committed to doing what I can to help find a cure,’ says Julie.

Just a few days before last year’s Race for Life in Portsmouth Julie signed up for it.

She says: ‘I raised £365 which was great considering I only had a few days to collect sponsorship.’

The sales assistant has now decided to take on the Race for Life again this year and she has already raised more than £3,000.

‘I have already filled up three sponsorship forms which is fantastic,’ said Julie.

Chris Woods, the events manager for Race for Life, said: ‘Julie’s experience highlights the importance of raising awareness about getting anything unusual checked out.

‘It is also important to raise money through Race for Life to allow Cancer Research UK’s doctors, nurses and scientists to advance research – including finding kinder treatments – which help save the lives of men, women and children across Hampshire.’

More than 100,000 new cases every year in UK

According to the NHS, skin cancer is one of the most common cancers in the world.

Non-melanoma skin cancer refers to a group of cancers that slowly develop in the upper layers of the skin.

The term non-melanoma distinguishes the more common kinds of skin cancer from the less common skin cancer known as melanoma, which spreads faster in the body.

The first sign of non-melanoma skin cancer is usually the appearance of a lump or patch on the skin that doesn’t heal after a few weeks.

In most cases, cancerous lumps are red and firm, while cancerous patches are often flat and scaly.

You should see your GP if you have any skin abnormality that hasn’t healed after four weeks. Although it is unlikely to be skin cancer, it is best to be sure.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is mainly caused by overexposure to ultraviolet (UV) light. UV light comes from the sun, as well as artificial sunbeds and sunlamps.

In addition to UV light overexposure, there are certain things that can increase your chances of developing non-melanoma skin cancer, such as:

- A family history of the condition

- Pale skin that burns easily

- A large number of moles or freckles.

Non-melanoma skin cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in the world. There are more than 100,000 new cases of non-melanoma skin cancer every year in the UK. It affects slightly more men than women.