Beauty and the black spot
Nicole Capper, Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa 2018, tells us how at the age of 25, a malignant melanoma mole was discovered on the back of her left thigh.
Nicole Capper (33) lives in Broadacres, Gauteng with her two children Josh (7) and Tatum (3). She is currently separated from her husband.
Routine mole removal
Nicole was diagnosed, by chance, during a routine mole removal performed by a plastic surgeon. “I’ve always had lots of moles but they irritated me and hooked on my clothing. I didn’t like them aesthetically either, so I opted to have them removed. With this as the motivation, rather than on the advice of a dermatologist, I wasn’t anticipating any drama and thought it to be a standard removal of a few moles,” Nicole explains.
As it happened, there was one tiny little black spot on the back of her left thigh that looked different so Nicole decided she would have it removed at the same time. Unfortunately, that little black spot turned out to be a Clark’s Level 2 malignant melanoma.
Luckily, it was only Stage 2 cancer, which means it was localised and had not yet spread into the reticular dermis. “I was fortunate in that I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation, just surgery to excise a larger area. My expert medical team managed to completely remove the cancer which I was hugely grateful for. My scar wasn’t too bad. I just used the nourishing creams and ointments my doctor prescribed and time sorted out the rest.” Nicole says.
Nicole has always been SunSmart. She never laid in the sun for hours on end and always wore maximum sunblock. With a genetic history of cancer in her family (her grandmother had a malignant melanoma in her sixties), Nicole was always careful and practised moderation. “I was very conscious that with a familial link and a gene that can be unlocked by incorrect diet, an unhealthy lifestyle, plus a case of bad luck, that it’s important to be self-aware and proactive about sun protection. There’s no need to live in fear of the sun, but instead take all the necessary precautions. Of course, it’s never worth taking a risk, and if you have concerns rather just go and get yourself checked,” Nicole says.
“I apply sunscreen every day but I also believe that antioxidants are very important in negating the harmful effects of the sun. Let’s face it, the sun is an important source of vitamin D which is essential to good health and derived from healthy sun exposure. You need to live a healthy, active, outdoors life. Get your moles checked every six months to a year; and don’t be afraid of the sun or skin cancer. Just be pro-active, wear sunscreen, live outdoors, love your life but check your body and get someone to help you to check the spots you cannot see.”
Raised R100 000 for CANSA
Last year Nicole raised R100 000 for CANSA as part of the Tammy Taylor Mrs South Africa competition. These funds were used, by CANSA, to purchase FotoFinder dermoscope machines for mole mapping.
“Whenever I can, I share my story. I have presented on radio and delivered talks on the subject. It’s my hope that I can educate and spread the message that prevention is better than cure. It is for this reason that I go for mole mapping every six months to a year. I am outdoors a lot and won’t compromise my lifestyle but rather get checked more regularly.