A WELSH Ambulance Service paramedic who has been diagnosed with melanoma is urging others to recognise the signs and symptoms.
Ian Jones, 53, based in Hawthorn, was diagnosed with melanoma, a type of skin cancer in 2022 after discovering the small mole on his back was changing.
Following numerous scans and operations over the past year, the cancer unfortunately spread to multiple metastases within the brain.
He is now encouraging others to check their moles while close friend and fellow Welsh Ambulance Service worker, Andrew Jones, takes on a fundraising mission to support Ian.
Ian, a father of three, said: “It all started last year when I noticed the mole on my back was growing.
“It then started to get very dry, became itchy, and started to bleed.
“I booked an appointment with my doctor, who referred me to the dermatologist in Prince Charles Hospital.
“I was told the mole needed to be removed, so I was booked in for surgery.
“Four weeks later and after more tests I was diagnosed with type two melanoma and subsequently had a lymph node biopsy, where unfortunately they found cancer in my groin.
“I had an operation to remove the lymph nodes in my groin, which was successful, before being referred to Velindre Cancer Centre, where I continued having scans.
“Unfortunately, my last scan showed the melanoma had spread to my brain.
“It started with one tiny lesion, which, after four weeks, multiplied to seven lesions with one increasing in size from 5mm to 17mm.
“I am now on medication to hopefully shrink and destroy the cancerous lesions and stop the spread of melanoma.
Ian, who is originally from the Wirral and served in the military for 22 years, started with the Trust 13 years ago on our non-emergency patient service.
He continued: “When I was in the army, I thought I was bullet proof and didn’t think about wearing sun cream.
“I now must wear factor 50 everywhere, and I’ve had to step down from work as I’m not allowed to drive.
“My advice to others would be that if you have moles, or you suspect your mole is changing then you need to get them checked out.
“I’m still trying to do as much as possible, as I don’t want to let the diagnosis consume me.
“My plan is to get back into work.
“Staff at WAST are constantly visiting, picking me up and taking me out to coffee, and Andrew, who joined the Trust on the same day as me 13 years ago, is taking on a fundraising mission to support me, which is amazing, and I can’t believe he volunteered to do it.”
51-year-old Andrew Jones, an Ambulance Care Assistant based in Hawthorn, will be undertaking a gruelling 160-mile trek to raise money for Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff.
The seven-day walk will start on Monday 14 August 2023 from Liverpool, where Ian was born and raised, to Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, where Ian is receiving treatment.
Andrew said: “Me and Ian started on the same day, on the same course and were partners on the road for a couple of months before we went off in different directions.
“Some weeks, I would spend more time with him than my wife.
“When I heard about Ian’s diagnosis, I wanted to do something for him, and I thought, well I can walk, so why not walk to raise some money for charity.
“I have decided to start in Liverpool, as Ian is a proud Scouse, and work my way down to Velindre Cancer Centre, stopping at ambulance stations along the route.
“Lots of people have already donated, which is amazing, and I’m hoping some more staff and friends will join me on certain sections of the walk, especially the last stretch from Merthyr, where my wife and two boys, and Ian and his family are hoping to join in.”
Andrew will not be alone on his quest, as Emergency Medical Technician Penny King will be driving a campervan donated by car hire company Days Rental for Andrew to sleep in throughout his journey.
Mike Howells, Duty Operational Manager in Hawthorn Station, said: “After giving multiple years of service to the Trust, it was very sad to see Ian step down from active duty.
“However, it’s great to see staff like Andrew supporting their colleagues as it shows how compassionate and caring our staff are.
“We are wishing Andrew the best of luck and Ian a swift recovery and hope he is able to come back to work soon.”
You can sponsor Andrew and help support the Velindre Cancer Centre via his JustGiving page here.