For years, Chris Wilcocks loved to enjoy the sun on Turkish and Spanish beaches with her & # 39; blingy & # 39; fake designer shades.
But now the 59-year-old, from Essex, is furious with herself because she was foolish after losing her eye to skin cancer caused by UV rays.
And she has put the blame on her 40-piece collection of knock-off sunglasses, which were once her pride and joy, but now only her shudder of fear.
Mrs. Wilcocks, from Basildon, said: & When they told me it was the sun that caused the cancer, I was completely devastated.
Chris Wilcocks, 59, from Basildon, Essex, lost her eye to eyepiece melanoma after years of enjoying the sun with fake colors
The mother of two once had a 40-piece collection of knock-off sunglasses, which were once her pride and joy, but now only her shudder of fright.
& # 39; I always went for the blingiest sunglasses – unfortunately I just loved the glamor and they clearly had not done anything to protect my eyes. & # 39;
The mother of two would wear cheap shades all year round and go on holiday with her 61-year-old builder, Graham.
In addition to wearing the shades on foreign beaches with the sun on, Mrs. Wilcocks had also shaken eye tests for years.
This harmful combination peaked on a morning in August 2018, when the mother was suddenly robbed of her sight.
The former home care manager said: & I woke up early and early and went to work to make the best of it.
& # 39; I walked briskly down a corridor when it suddenly seemed as if all the lights had gone out.
She was operated on to have a new adjusted lens installed
& # 39; I have become blind, I have become blind! & # 39; I cried while my colleagues sat down. I was so panicked that I could hardly think, and the next thing I knew was that I was in an ambulance. & # 39;
Mrs. Wilcocks was taken to Basildon University Hospital before being transferred to an eye specialist at nearby Southend University Hospital, where she was struck with crushing news that she had ocular melanoma.
She said: & The doctor looked at my back and almost immediately told me it had to be removed immediately.
& # 39; I was told that the tumor was too large for another possible treatment. & # 39;
Despite everything, Mrs. Wilcocks tried to put on a courageous face for her husband and sons Lee, 36, a woodworker, and Luke 30, a landscape architect.
She said: & # 39; It was just so upset. However, I tried to stay strong for the family. That's what mothers do. My tears were kept behind closed doors, but they were there. & # 39;
Mrs. Wilcocks was hired for a one-hour operation to remove her eye at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital on September 2, 2018.
Mrs. Wilkins would travel annually to Turkey and Spain, where she would wear her knock-off shades
Mrs. Wilcocks tried to stay strong to protect her husband Graham, 61, (right) and her sons Lee, 36, a woodworker, and Luke 30, a landscape architect
She said: & # 39; Just before the operation, I really noticed that I would lose my eyes forever. & # 39;
Willocks was released after just one night and locked himself up for a few weeks after returning home.
She said: & # 39; Part of it was self-awareness, but part of me just felt stupid. Strange that I had worn those cheap sunglasses all those years, all those summers.
& # 39; I must have had at least 40 pairs and would trade the retailers of a pair from 10 euros to around six or seven. & # 39;
She wore an eye patch for two weeks before returning to the hospital to have a prosthetic eye installed.
Greeting the doctors, she said: “It is absolutely brilliant. You could not see that it is fake – they did a great job. & # 39;
As she began to adjust to her new eye, Willocks again received a devastating blow in April this year.
CT and PET scans at Mount Vernon Hospital in North London – performed to monitor her progress – showed that the cancer had spread to her liver.
She said: & # 39; The day I was told that the cancer had spread was not a good day at all … it was hard.
And in May 2019 she started a year-long immunotherapy course. This means that the Southend Hospital is visited once every two weeks for a five-hour session, during which special medicines are administered via an infusion.
WHAT IS OCULAR MELANOMA?
Ocular melanoma (OM) is an eye cancer that is diagnosed annually in approximately 750 British and 2500 Americans.
Although it can occur in people of all races, it is most common in people with lightly pigmented skin and blue eyes. The median age of diagnosis is 55.
It develops slowly from pigmented cells of the choroid, into the iris or the ciliary body and often becomes a & # 39; silent killer & # 39; mentioned. These areas form the uveal and the disease is sometimes called the uveal melanoma.
Usually, 10-15 years after diagnosis, in half the cases, the malignant tumor can spread through the body through metastasis, resulting in the death of the diagnosed person.
It is mainly when it reaches the liver, but in some patients the process can be delayed by 20-25 years.
It is the most common form of eye cancer and is the second most common form of melanoma.
Unlike skin melanoma of the skin, OM is not believed to be related to sun exposure.
Mrs. Wilcocks added: & # 39; The side effects can be severe. I'm tired all the time. I had to take free time because I am so tired. But I am hopeful for the future – that must be me. & # 39;
Doctors told her that they are hopeful that her cancer will go into remission at the end of her treatment.
But in the meantime she wants to raise awareness about the dangers of wearing cheap sunglasses and the need to undergo regular eye tests.
She said: & # 39; It scares me how many people who wear these sunglasses with virtually no sun protection.
& # 39; I just want to shout at them and tell them my story. I have used reading glasses off the shelf for years and that is why I did not go to the optician for very long.
& # 39; I just wish I had known they were no alternative to a professional and had my eyes tested.
& # 39; I wish the packaging of those things made it clear that you had to go to the optician regularly.
& # 39; I actually want to ban cheap sunglasses without UV protection altogether, but for now I have to focus on raising awareness. & # 39;
Mrs. Willocks added: “It's like smoking used to be – people need to know the facts. And if you are going to buy cheap glasses, make sure you do an eye test. They cost almost nothing.
& # 39; I was always told by friends and family to go and I completely ignored them.
& # 39; Doctors said that if my blood vessels were not cracked, I could have sat there for months and months while the cancer grew and grew.
& # 39; Becoming blind saved my life. I fear thinking what would have happened if I had not. & # 39;
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