Irchester vicar’s cancer scare leads to donation

Dr Olivia Stevenson, Macmillan Nurse Fiona Briggs, the Rev Simmons and Assistant Grand Master Jim Boughton
Dr Olivia Stevenson, Macmillan Nurse Fiona Briggs, the Rev Simmons and Assistant Grand Master Jim Boughton
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A vicar and Freemason who had treatment for the most serious form of skin cancer has raised £1,460 for the Skin Care Centre at Kettering General Hospital.

The vicar of Irchester, the Rev John Simmons, and Jim Boughton, Assistant Provincial Grand Master for the Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Freemasons, presented the money to the hospital’s skin cancer lead, and consultant dermatologist, Dr Olivia Stevenson.

The money will be used to buy two dermatoscopes – a magnifying device used to allow close examination of skin lesions - at £730 each for the Skin Care Centre.

Mr Simmons, 61, wanted to do something to help the hospital after his own skin cancer diagnosis two years ago.

While on holiday in Cyprus in 2012, his wife Ann noticed that a mole on his chest had gone a dark bluish colour.

A trip to his GP led to a referral to Kettering Hospital’s dermatology department.

Mr Simmons said: “I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and so I needed urgent treatment.

“I was referred to St Bartholomew’s Hospital in London in September 2012 for a sentinel lymph node biopsy to see if the cancer had spread to my lymph nodes.

“It had - so two were taken out.

“I was then referred to an oncologist at Leicester Royal Infirmary and had my lymph glands taken out in December 2012.

“On January 5, 2013, I got the all clear test on the day my first grandchild, Harriet, was born.

“I will be under surveillance now for a total of five years but all the tests so far have been negative.”

While chatting with KGH dermatologist Olivia Stevenson the subject of equipment came up and John, through his role that year as Master of The Scout Lodge of the Freemasons said he would like to help the department.

He contributed £730 of funds from Scout Lodge which was then matched by an equal donation from the Provincial Grand Charity for Northamptonshire and Huntingdonshire Freemasons.

Dr Stevenson thanked Mr Simmons for his donation and urged people who have moles or skin legions which undergo rapid change to get them checked out.

She added: “For example if the mole is changing colour, weeping, bleeding or growing faster, they should go to their GP for advice.

“Sometimes people, particularly men, can ignore these sorts of changes when they really should have them checked out by their GP straight away.

“If caught early many skin cancers can be completely cured.”