'Our girl died of skin cancer just 8 months after wedding'
A couple whose "bright and intelligent" daughter died of skin cancer eight months after her wedding have urged people to take care in the sun.
Bernie and Peter Rice, from Leixlip, Co Kildare, lost Sharon (33) in 2008 following a two-year battle with melanoma, a cancer that develops in cells that produce pigment or melanin in the skin.
IT executive Sharon first noticed that a mole on her leg had changed shape in 2006 and, after visiting her GP, was referred to a dermatologist who arranged to have the mole removed.
However, after a biopsy, she was diagnosed with malignant melanoma and had surgery to remove a large area of skin.
"After that operation, she seemed to be recuperating well. She got married that June," said Bernie.
"I always remember it - her wedding anniversary only passed the other day. They were getting ready to move into a new house the following November when she began to feel unwell again.
"She went into St James's Hospital and it was discovered that the cancer had spread to the lymph nodes in her thigh.
"She had an operation to remove those nodes, but in the January she was given the news it had spread to her liver."
Although Sharon showed great determination as she fought the disease, she died in February 2008, leaving behind her four siblings and her husband.
Soon after her death, Shar-on's parents set up the Mela- noma Trust, determined to raise awareness about the most threatening type of skin cancer.
"Sharon was an extremely positive girl, she was so full of life," said Bernie.
"Her positivity inspired us to establish the Melanoma Trust because I know that if she was here she would be raising awareness.
"She was so bright and intelligent. She had just got married and planned to have a family."
New figures released by the Irish Skin Foundation this week show that melanoma is becoming increasingly prevalent.
More than 1,000 Irish people were diagnosed with melanoma in 2014. In 1994 the figure was 386.
Exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation from sunlight or tanning beds increases the risk of developing melanoma as it damages the skin cells' DNA, causing mutations.
"Irish people have this idea that the sun here isn't the same as it is abroad, or that we don't get the same sun, but of course we do," said Bernie.
"People don't realise that the UVA and UVB rays can come through the clouds and cause damage to our skin."
The Irish Skin Foundation launches its Protect & Inspect Campaign today to help clarify and simplify how people can protect their skin and inspect it for symptoms of melanoma. The charity, which supports people with skin diseases, is sending a timely warning about the dangers of overexposure to solar ultraviolet (UV) radiation ahead of the summer holidays. For more information visit irishskin.ie or www.melanomatrust.com. Follow the conversation on social media #protect&inspect