When Luke Thomas first noticed an unusual skin mark on his back he thought little of it.
It was only when the odd-looking mole turned black that the 35-year-old booked in to see a doctor in 2014.
He was told it was melanoma skin cancer but, luckily, the disease was isolated and could be surgically removed, reports Wales Online.
Fast forward to 2019 and Luke was working as an architect in London – when he discovered another unusual mole on his arm.
A return trip to the medics this time confirmed the new growth too was cancerous and would have to be cut out.
But Luke still didn’t feel well, with bursts of weakness and nausea and small swellings starting to appear on his arm.
So he went back to the hospital for another check-up – when he was given the devastating news that he had incurable cancer.
A biopsy confirmed that Luke had Stage 4 metastatic melanoma which had spread across his skin and lymph nodes.
He said: “As soon as I walked into the consultant’s room for results, I saw the nurse holding a pack of leaflets and my gut sunk, I knew.
“It felt like a death sentence. I was in complete shock, the outlook wasn’t good, it was a bad diagnosis.
“I was really ignorant about skin cancer, I thought well it’s just skin, it can just be cut out. I didn’t think it was anything major.”
Luke, now living in Kidwelly, has tried to remain hopeful about the future despite his diagnosis due to how quickly life prolonging treatments were evolving.
He started immunotherapy at the beginning of 2020, a type of cancer treatment that helps the immune system recognise and attack cancer cells.
But Luke’s health still deteriorated, losing weight and causing so much pain that he couldn’t lift his arms to go into a PET scan.
He then started on targeted treatment which he continues to have now.
Luke said: “After a couple of days I could literally see tumours reducing but I have had side effects. I have my good days and bad days, but my quality of life is good.
“But I am in my ninth month of this treatment and they say it has a shelf life of 12 to 14 months, which isn’t great.”
Luke said he remains positive and has many years to look forward to.
And he added that he is now he is desperate to raise more awareness for skin cancer, especially amongst young people.
Luke said: “Skin cancer is on the up, especially with young people, anything questionable, make sure you get it checked, it might be nothing, but do it for peace of mind.
“Take care of your skin, protect it against the sun, against sunbeds, everything like that, just take care of it.”
Luke is also determined to raise money for Melanoma Focus by walking the 870-mile round journey of the Welsh Coastal Path
A Just Giving page follows his journey and has already raised more than £8,000.
-- to www.walesonline.co.uk