Skin cancer-stricken mother reveals chemo cream leaves her looking like an ‘acid attack victim’

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Toronto's Honore Stark must wear chemotherapy cream for at least six hours a day that she says makes her look like a 'victim of an acid attack'

Toronto’s Honore Stark must wear chemotherapy cream for at least six hours a day that she says makes her look like a ‘victim of an acid attack’

A cancer-stricken mother has shared shocking photos illustrating how her chemotherapy cream makes her look like an “acid attack victim.”

Honore Stark of Toronto, Canada, initially labeled an “unusual spot” on her forehead that she found in 2008 as eczema, until it started eating her flesh.

The ‘huge’ spot turned out to be a form of skin cancer.

Since the diagnosis, “numerous” lesions have surfaced all over the 53-year-old’s body.

Despite having about 30 surgeries to remove them, Ms. Stark still has to use a chemotherapy cream to avoid developing other cancerous lesions.

But the mother of four describes the cancer-fighting cream as akin to “pouring acid” on her skin, as she’s covered in painful red scabs.

About the side effects of the cream, which she has to wear for six hours a day, she said: ‘It looks like I had an acid attack.

‘[Using chemo cream] is like pouring acid on your skin and your skin bubbles up. That’s how it feels and that’s how it looks.’

Ms. Stark claimed that the scabs, which can cover many parts of her face and neck, have led some people to believe she has been attacked or has a contagious disease.

“I’ve had people walk away from me. It hurt my feelings and I felt shunned,” she said.

“People pointed at me and just didn’t understand if I had a contagious disease, or if someone had violently hurt me, or if I had been in a car accident.”

Having never warned about sunscreen before her skin cancer diagnosis, Ms. Stark is now trying to raise awareness about the disease and how to prevent it.

Ms Stark, who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009, has had more than 30 surgeries to remove lesions from her body, but must apply the cream daily to control cancerous tissue

Ms Stark, who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009, has had more than 30 surgeries to remove lesions from her body, but must apply the cream daily to control cancerous tissue

Ms Stark, who was diagnosed with skin cancer in 2009, has had more than 30 surgeries to remove lesions from her body, but must apply the cream daily to control cancerous tissue

Ms Stark is now trying to raise awareness about skin cancer and is urging people to use sunscreen and wear a hat to avoid a diagnosis similar to hers

Ms Stark is now trying to raise awareness about skin cancer and is urging people to use sunscreen and wear a hat to avoid a diagnosis similar to hers

Ms Stark is now trying to raise awareness about skin cancer and is urging people to use sunscreen and wear a hat to avoid a diagnosis similar to hers

HOW TO STAY SAFE IN THE SUN

Sunburn increases the risk of skin cancer.

It can happen abroad or in the UK.

To stay safe in the sun, experts recommend that people:

  • Seek shade between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m., when the sun’s rays are usually strongest
  • Wear at least SPF 30 sunscreen
  • Apply sunscreen for 30 minutes and again just before UV exposure
  • If necessary, opt for water-resistant sunscreen and reapply after swimming, sweating or using a towel
  • Cover up with protective clothing, a wide-brimmed hat and sunglasses
  • Take special care with babies and young children. Babies under six months should be kept out of direct sunlight
  • Do not use tanning beds or sun lamps
  • Checks moles and skin for any changes

Source: NHS Choices

Ms. Stark’s journey to skin cancer began in 2008 when she noticed a “dime-sized indentation” with a flaky texture on the top of her forehead.

“In the first few months I saw it, I thought it was dry skin or eczema,” she said.

However, she said it did not disappear and started showing worrying signs.

“It eats into my skin and tissue and gets extremely close to the bone on my forehead and that scared me to go to my doctor,” she said.

Ms. Stark, who is unemployed, recalled the shock of the first basal cell carcinoma diagnosis and the lack of empathy from the first doctor she saw.

“I was pretty nervous and didn’t know anything about skin cancer, and then she immediately looked at my forehead and said, ‘You have cancer. We need to set a date for surgery to remove that,'” she said.

“I was very put off by her lack of empathy and was quite upset. I started to cry.’

Ms. Stark has changed doctors and has now had more than 30 surgeries to remove various lesions since 2010, with the cancer also appearing on the neck, arm and chest.

“I’ve had many lesions over the years, I couldn’t count the number,” she said.

“I have the skin of a woman of 70 or 80 years old.”

As part of her ongoing treatment, Ms. Stark must wear sunscreen in all weather conditions and must never again be exposed to direct sunlight.

Ms. Stark thinks her cancer is the result of her never applying sunscreen or taking any other steps to protect her skin.

“I put sunscreen on my kids, but I wasn’t wearing any sunscreen at all,” she said.

“I had sunscreen in the house, but it wasn’t something I thought about every morning before going out.

“I wasn’t wearing a hat and I wasn’t under an umbrella, which is exactly why I have so much cancer.”

Having been out of work since her diagnosis, she is now trying to raise awareness about skin cancer and how to stay safe in the sun by making TikTok videos, garnering more than 240,000 likes and followers.

The first sign of skin cancer the mother of four found was an “unusual spot” on her forehead she found in 2008, but initially dismissed it as eczema. However, after her diagnosis, similar lesions have developed in her neck, arm and chest

The 53-year-old said she never wore sunscreen or wore a hat when out in the sun, which is why she now has the skin of a '70s or 80s-year-old woman'

The 53-year-old said she never wore sunscreen or wore a hat when out in the sun, which is why she now has the skin of a '70s or 80s-year-old woman'

The 53-year-old said she never wore sunscreen or wore a hat when out in the sun, which is why she now has the skin of a ’70s or 80s-year-old woman’

“I want people to understand that little behaviors that they can incorporate into their routine can prevent this,” she said.

“So you wear a hat, I see babies outside in the bright sun with no hats on and I think to myself ‘that scares me’, because of what their future might look like.”

Her skin cancer is called basal cell carcinoma and is the most common form of the disease. However, it usually does not spread to other parts of the body.

About 156,000 cases are diagnosed in the UK every year, rising to about 3.6 million a year in the US.

They usually appear on areas of skin that are frequently exposed to the sun, such as the nose, forehead, and cheeks, as well as the back or lower legs.

Skin cancer is broadly divided into two types, non-melanoma and melanoma, with basal cell skin cancer being the first.

Melanoma skin cancer is considered more dangerous because it can spread to organs and tissues while it is very rare for non-melanoma skin cancer to do so.

Basal cell carcinomas are almost always curable, but some patients, such as Ms. Stark, require ongoing or further treatment.

Deaths from non-melanoma skin cancer are rare with only 720 in the UK each year, representing less than 1 per cent of all cancer deaths.

The number of skin cancers in both the UK and the US has risen over the past decade.

Chemotherapy cream, like other cancer treatments, can cause side effects, although not all patients experience them.

Whether a chemotherapy patient experiences side effects from their treatment may depend on the specific drug or drugs they are taking.

Many side effects of chemotherapy can also be treated or prevented, and most stop once treatment ends.

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