She has been a volunteer with the Spanish Association Against Cancer (AECC) in Marbella for over 20 years and she has never hesitated to help out with the Sun Protection Campaign organised by the Costa del Sol Hospital and the district health authorities. Three years ago, at the Puente Romano Tennis Club, one of the doctors who was giving a talk to sports enthusiasts noticed a mole on her nose.
“Sometimes it itched and bled, but I didn't think it was important,” says María Haydee. The doctor referred her immediately to the hospital for an examination and she underwent surgery days later.
“It was a carcinoma. That had never occurred to me,” she says. She had never given a thought to the large number of moles on her body and didn't remember at first that her mother had had them as well.
Last October she had another operation to remove a carcinoma on her back. Since first being diagnosed three years ago, she has undergone surgery four times. “The last one needed seven stitches,” she says.
Thanks to regular checkups, the doctors are controlling every lesion which appears on her skin. Now aged 55, María says she has never been one for spending hours and hours in the sun.
“On the contrary, I have never sunbathed much because I don't like it. You never know, which is why it is so important to be aware of moles and any changes that occur to them,” she says.
After her own experience she is now extremely careful. “I practically shower with a mirror in front of me. I check my whole body every single time, so I know if a new mole has appeared or if any of them has grown,” she says.
This preventive routine is now followed by the rest of her family as well. “We are all very aware of the dangers of the sun. The best thing you can do is, as the campaign slogan says, enjoy the sun but don't forget about your skin. Check it constantly,” she says.