A mum was left with a giant hole in her nose after a tiny spot turned out to be “flesh-eating” skin cancer.
Mandy Pollard was told she could lose her nose in the next 10 years if she didn’t get it treated.
The 37-year-old was shocked, having thought the spot was harmless, The Sun reports.
After an operation to remove the cancer, Mandy said she looked like “someone has put out a cigarette on the end of her nose”.
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The office manager said doctors initially sewed a sponge on to the end of her nose to keep a skin graft in place.
But after having the sponge removed, she said she was shocked at her appearance.
“Walking through the hospital, I was so embarrassed,” she said.
“People didn’t stare but they kind of glanced and quickly looked away.
“A little girl looked frightened of me.
“The thing that really gets me is my little boy, Alfie, was really shocked and he didn’t want to give me a cuddle.”
Mandy, from Peterborough, first noticed the spot about two years ago.
The mum to Alfie, 7, and Harry, 3, said because it kept coming and going she “didn’t think much about it”.
It was only when it started to change and grow in size that she began to worry.
“It was paper thin,” she said. “I would wake up in the night and my partner would say, ‘Your nose is bleeding’.
“My mum had a blemish on her arm that she had removed because it was skin cancer. I thought maybe I should get it looked at.”
But still, Mandy put off getting it checked. It was when she was at the GP about another matter that she mentioned the blemish on her nose.
The GP referred Mandy to a dermatologist and plastic surgeon, who told her she needed an op to remove the cancer and a skin graft as soon as possible.
“It was all a bit of a whirlwind,” she said. “It was like something from the movies.”
Mandy questioned if the op was really necessary.
“He said, ‘If you don’t get this done, it’s going to eat away at your nose, and in the next 10 years you’ll be back sitting in that chair being told you have to have your whole nose taken off’,” Mandy recalled.
“I really thought it was just dry skin and that I would just be given some cream for it.”
Mandy had the operation on November 5, and doctors sewed the sponge in place to prevent a blood clot.
The skin for the graft came from the side of her face and was stitched over the hole left from the cancer removal.
Mandy had the sponge removed this week and got to see her reflection for the first time.
“I couldn’t look at myself,” she said.
“The surgeon was amazing though, he was very reassuring.
“He said it looks a bit like a dog’s dinner at the moment, but he said it looks really good and said the graft has taken.
“I got quite excited because I thought as soon as I get the sponge off, I can start putting make-up on and covering it up, but I can’t put make-up on it, I can’t cover it with my hair.
“People might think I’m vain for not wanting to go out of my house looking like this, but my confidence has just shattered.”
Mandy has been told her nose could take up to a year to fully heal.
The doctor said the skin cancer was due to sun damage but told Mandy it usually affected older people.
Mandy said she always wore sun cream and usually holidayed in the UK, so the skin cancer came as a huge shock to her.
The mum has bravely spoken about her experience to warn others that you don’t have to be a sun worshipper to get skin cancer.
Mandy added: “I just wanted to raise awareness that this can happen to anyone.
“I didn’t worship the sun, I would rather stick some fake tan on than sit out in it.
“When I’m on holiday I always put sun cream on, but I usually just put SPF foundation on my face.
“Even if my story helps one 13-year-old who doesn’t want to wear sun cream on holiday then it’s worth it.”
This article originally appeared on The Sun and was reproduced with permission
Originally published as ‘Flesh-eating’ horror hiding in mum’s ‘spot’