Sunbed addict has GOLF BALL-sized tumour removed from his face after ignoring signs of skin cancer for two years

  • Freddie Bishop, 49, used sunbeds several times a week for many years
  • Says he loved having a tan as it made him ‘look and feel healthy’
  • Began showing signs of skin cancer two years ago but ignored them
  • Was eventually diagnosed with the deadly skin cancer basal cell carcinoma
  • Nearly lost an eye and an ear during radical surgery to remove the tumour
  • Comes as figures show more men than ever are dying from the disease 

Kelly Strange

04:48 EST, 19 April 2013


07:27 EST, 19 April 2013

A former sunbed addict has issued a terrifying warning after it was revealed that more men than ever are dying of skin cancer.

Freddie Bishop, 49, from Neston, Cheshire, had ignored the signs for two years before being diagnosed after his partner nagged him into seeing his GP.

He needed life saving surgery to remove a tumour the size of a golf ball from his face after contracting the deadly disease.

He will remain scarred for life despite skin grafts from his thigh to rebuild the hole left in his temple.

Sunbed addict Freddie Bishop had a golf ball-sized tumour removed from his forehead after developing skin cancer

Sunbed addict Freddie Bishop had a golf ball-sized tumour removed from his forehead after developing skin cancer

Self-confessed sunbed addict Freddie is now calling for greater restrictions as new figures from Cancer Research UK reveal more men than women are dying from the disease.

While more women continue to be diagnosed, the charity believes more men are dying because, like Freddie, they are less likely to report symptoms to their GP.

Nursing assistant Freddie said: ‘I knew about the risks but I’d been using them for so long with no problems I thought I was safe.

‘To be honest, I was addicted to having a year round tan and just assumed it wouldn’t happen to me. I hate going to the doctor and didn’t want to make a fuss so when I first noticed a scab I just ignored it until it disappeared.

‘It was only when my partner got really cross and demanded I see the GP that I finally went. I wish I had gone earlier.’

Recent research has shown that the risks of using sunbeds are far higher than previously thought.

Freddie Bishop

Freddie Bishop

Unhealthy glow: Freddie says he loved having a tan and used sunbeds several times a week

Scientists at the University of Dundee recently revealed that sunbeds are twice as likely to cause skin cancer than a holiday in the Mediterranean sun.

The World Health organisation states sunbeds are as lethal as cigarettes and list them as one of the most dangerous cancer causing habits.

The Government banned them for use by under-18s last year.

But thousands of Brits like Freddie continue to risk their lives for a tan.

He said: ‘I started using sun beds to get a bit of a tan before a holiday so I looked good on the beach and stop me burning.

‘Then when I got back from my holidays I kept using them so my tan didn’t fade. I looked healthier and felt good. Soon it become a habit.’

He went from using sunbeds once a week to four times a week for the then maximum permitted 12 minutes.

‘I only had one holiday a year but liked the way I looked and felt with a tan so kept using the sunbeds all year round.

Freddie's girlfriend Denise was attracted to him because of his tan, but soon became worried about his excessive sunbed use

Freddie’s girlfriend Denise was attracted to him because of his tan, but soon became worried about his excessive sunbed use

Freddie Bishop

Freddie Bishop

After being diagnosed with skin cancer, he had a golf ball-sized tumour removed from his forehead and a skin graft taken from his thigh (right)

‘Back then not much was said about using them but even when they started warning people I took no notice, because I didn’t think it would happen to me

‘To be honest I didn’t want to look pasty white all year. If I looked healthy and tanned on the outside I felt good on the inside.’

Freddie admits he became addicted to tanning sessions and was regularly complimented on his deep glow.

‘I loved it. When I went on holiday I never burned and people were always telling me I looked young and fit for my age. Why would I stop?

‘I’m a modern man so using the sunbed never bothered me. As the years passed I started to notice more men at the salon than women. I think men started to take more care of how they looked.’

In fact it was his healthy looking tan that first attracted girlfriend Denise Greatbanks. The couple met on a dating website in 2011.

Denise said: ‘I liked Freddie’s profile picture because he looked so fit and well and I suppose part of that was his tan.’

But the beautician was shocked to find out his glow was down to sunbeds.

Denise repeatedly begged Freddie to get his mole seen to, but he refused. When she found blood on the pillow, she insisted he get checked out

Denise repeatedly begged Freddie to get his mole seen to, but he refused. When she found blood on the pillow, she insisted he get checked out

‘He was quite open about using the sunbed but it was the frequency that really worried me.

‘He was at the tanning shop at least four or five times a week. My job means I know how bad it is for your skin and I tried to warn him but Freddie just laughed.

‘Like many men he thought he was immune to the risks and had been using for so long he hated the way he looked when he wasn’t tanned.

‘I told him to use a fake tan but he wasn’t interested and just carried on.’

But months before the couple met Freddie had noticed a blemish on his right temple.

‘It kept appearing and fading away so I never gave it much thought,’ he explains.

But these were the vital first warning signs of Basal Cell Carinoma (BCC).

Over the following months the blemish began to scab and Denise nagged him to see a doctor but Freddie refused.

‘I felt great and I didn’t want to make a fuss and waste time over nothing. Beside the scab would fall off and everyone would forget about it.’

Undeterred, Freddie kept using the sunbed. Then last year Denise started finding blood on the pillow and once again nagged Freddie to see a doctor about the scab.

Once again he tried to avoid his GP by turning to the Internet where he self diagnosed a harmless skin condition.

Regrets: Freddie now wishes he had never used sunbeds and hopes his story will deter other people

Regrets: Freddie now wishes he had never used sunbeds and hopes his story will deter other people

He said: ‘The pictures looked the same so I told Denise I knew what it was and not to worry. I was sure if I had skin cancer I wouldn’t have felt so well.’

In September 2012 the couple holidayed in Turkey where Freddie’s tan gave him confidence on the beach.

the scab was growing and clearly visible in their holiday snaps on
their return. This time Denise insisted Freddie see a doctor.

The following month in October 2012 he was referred to a dermatologist who took one look and asked Freddie if he used sunbeds.

knew straight away it was bad news. I couldn’t believe what a fool I
had been,’ he said. The consultant suspected skin cancer and arranged a
biopsy. A month later, the devastating news was confirmed.

BCC is one of the most frequently occurring types of skin cancer and usually associated with exposure to UV light.

said: ‘It doesn’t normally spread but I had left it for so long without
seeing a doctor that it didn’t look good at all.’

He was admitted for surgery in January this year.

I came round I was told the cancer had spread even more than they had
expected. It was right down to the bone. I nearly lost an eye and ear.

‘I was shocked when I saw the size of the hole left behind. It looked like a crater left by a golf ball.

‘They’ve done a great job with the skin graft but I’ll still be scarred for life. I’m just lucky to be alive.

‘It goes without saying that I wish I had never started using sun beds and I will never use them again.

‘My fear is that despite the warnings people still want to look like the cast of TOWIE and will keep using sunbeds to get a tan.

‘Men can’t use fake tan because it’s messy and gets stuck in your stubble. The sunbeds are an easy option.

‘Tougher regulations would help but it might be easier just to ban them all together.

‘In my experience it seems to be the men still using them and men hate going to the doctor so are perhaps more at risk.

‘I hope my story stops even one person from using the sunbed.’


The comments below have been moderated in advance.

As far as I know, after working in a Dermatology Department for four years, Basal Cell Carcinomas are not deadly.


London, United Kingdom,
19/4/2013 15:25

Basal cell carcinoma is not deadly – it very rarely kills and doesn’t spread to other parts of the body!


porthcawl, United Kingdom,
19/4/2013 15:21

People have got to get over the idea that tan equals healthy.


19/4/2013 15:11

He didn’t look healthy at all! He looked unfit and jaundiced!!


19/4/2013 14:58

=== If I had a ”golf ball” growing on my face I’m pretty sure I would notice it! – sallybc1965, london, United ===Kingdom

Sally, not if you have a head the size of a football and the brain the size of a pea like this numpty.


19/4/2013 14:57

What price vanity? His tan looked silly and he almost paid for it with his life. Too high a price.


19/4/2013 14:47

He’s looking surprisingly good considering. Only problem now is — he’ll look 60 when he reaches 55, and he’ll look 70 when he gets to 60!


Helston, United Kingdom,
19/4/2013 14:37

looks better without the tan…


Leicester, United Kingdom,
19/4/2013 14:25

Are you sure it was not his brain.


wolverhampton, United Kingdom,
19/4/2013 14:19

Basal cell carcinoma is the most common skin cancer. It rarely metastasizes or kills unless left for aeons. So the headline calling it the “deadly skin cancer” is a little wide of the mark.
But never mind, why should the DM let the facts get in the way of a good scare story?


19/4/2013 14:18

The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline.

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