11:45AM, Thursday 11 July 2019
A mum diagnosed with an incurable and aggressive form of skin cancer is using the time she has left to spread awareness of the disease.
Shellie Clark, from Stirling Grove in Maidenhead, was told she had stage 4 melanoma in March, a type of skin cancer usually spotted through a mole.
The main cause of the disease is exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun, with the mole typically found on the back of a man, and calf or thigh on a woman.
Following scans, the mum-of-two found out the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, soft tissue, lungs, ovaries, adrenal glands, both breasts, chest wall – and also to her brain.
There is no real cure for stage 4 melanoma but treatments such as immunotherapy can help extend life expectancy.
The 38-year-old is now telling her story through a dedicated YouTube channel, where she will help spread positivity to others, and also awareness of the condition – which can become life-threatening within weeks.
“I noticed that I had a mole change on my leg years ago. I was not really aware of the importance of getting your moles checked,” she said.
“It was not until the end of last year that I started noticing a couple of lumps – one on my hip and a couple underneath my arm – I didn’t take any notice of this, being a busy mum.”
When Shellie discovered a lump above her breast, she decided to get it checked out.
“That was when things escalated really quickly,” she said.
“I went for a CT scan [at Wexham Park] and it was there I was told it had spread.”
She added: “I didn’t know anything about skin cancer – so why not try to spread awareness and try to stop others from going through what we are going through?
“Skin cancer awareness is just not out there and I am really concerned because it is the biggest organ we have.”
Shellie recalled a conversation she had with one of her sons, in which he asked if she would reach his birthday.
She has two sons: Ethan, 15 and Joshua, 14.
“I had suffered with depression, and my son asked me if I was going to make his birthday, and I thought: it is really my choice. You will make his birthday if you change your mindset,” she said.
“It is completely understandable that people are feeling that way, but what if we can change our future ourselves.
“I want to spread my positivity and give it out to other people.
“I want people to watch these videos and think: if she can do it, I can. I was given less than four months to live – and that was in March.
“If I have only got a certain amount of time left, [I want] to give purpose to that time.
“It doesn’t matter what life chucks at you – you can turn a really bad thing into a good thing.”
In her first YouTube video on her channel Catch me if you Cancer, Shellie tells viewers her story.
She says: “Melanoma didn't just take a little walk around my body, it took a hike and left breadcrumbs for its friends to follow.
"I want to find my tribe of warriors – men, women, children – who really think: ‘life isn’t worth going on’ – you don’t curl up and take that, you own it. You manage your own thoughts, you get out there and beat this."
A fundraising page dedicated to Shellie is raising funds to help make her home somewhere she can feel comfortable, as her house was in the middle of being redecorated when she was diagnosed.
Donations will be used for securing her children’s future, medication to help Shellie stay with her family longer, and help her survive financially.
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