A SOMERSET woman, Jess Maggs, age 43 from a village near Wells, is taking part in a national BBC charity appeal to raise money for a charity supporting people affected by melanoma skin cancer. 

Melanoma Focus has been selected for a BBC’s Lifeline Appeal, a programme which highlights the work of charities in the UK and invites the audience to donate.

The appeal will be broadcast on May 28 and Jess will be appearing and sharing her experiences of being diagnosed with melanoma and how she found strength and support from the Melanoma Patient Conference. 

Melanoma Focus provides crucial support for those affected by the disease and the medical teams who treat them, along with funding innovative research into new treatments and helping to raise greater awareness of skin cancer. 

The charity's Melanoma Helpline can be the first point of call for people newly diagnosed or grappling with treatment choices.

Patients and carers are also welcomed to the annual Melanoma Patient Conference, a safe space and community event which aims to empower patients and provide information about the latest treatments and advances in melanoma medicine.

The BBC appeal coincides with Melanoma Awareness Month. Melanoma Focus has been using the month to share information about symptoms and risk factors for melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. 86% of melanomas are preventable but they are becoming more common in the UK killing 2,333 people per year. 

Over the last decade, melanoma skin cancer incidence rates have increased by around a third (32%) in the UK.

Somerset County Gazette: Jess Maggs filming with BBC Charity appeal to raise awareness about melanoma skin cancer.Jess Maggs filming with BBC Charity appeal to raise awareness about melanoma skin cancer. (Image: Jess Maggs)

Jess said:“I was diagnosed with melanoma in 2018 after showing a suspicious looking mole to my GP and being referred to dermatology.

“I was completely blindsided by the diagnosis, it was terrifying. I had a two-year-old and a four-year-old at the time and it was like a bomb going off in my world.

"I had two operations and a year of treatments and am relieved to say I’m currently NED (no evidence of disease).  I’m still living with some side-effects, but they are managed and will be a small price to pay for, hopefully, a longer life.

“I’m so grateful for the information and support I received from Melanoma Focus, and attending the charity’s Melanoma Patient Conference gave me hope for the future.

Susanna Daniels, CEO of Melanoma Focus, said: “Melanoma skin cancer is a serious and potentially fatal condition.  “A melanoma diagnosis can bring confusion, anxiety, disbelief and disruption to the patient and their loved ones. That’s where we step in. As experts in melanoma, Melanoma Focus strives to shape a better future for melanoma patients by supporting them from diagnosis through their treatment and beyond.

“We’re delighted that Jess is supporting our BBC Lifeline appeal to raise awareness of melanoma and raise vital funds for our charity’s work.”

For more information, or to make a donation online, visit the Lifeline website at bbc.co.uk/lifeline