WITH the summer now getting into full swing - more and more of us heading out into the sun.

But with UV exposure from the sun being one of the main causes of skin cancer, health experts are continuing to encourage all of us to protect ourselves from its harmful rays more than ever.

This, and the need to detect any potential problems with skin as early as possible, form the basis of Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

And as the campaign draws to a close this May, the campaign and those affected by skin cancer are urging people to be more alert.

Adding his voice to this is Tim Spelling, who has been living with melanoma for the past two years.

Tim, from Earls Colne, has had multiple surgeries but explains each time the aggressive melanoma returned within days.

He hopes his story will make others more vigilant - and listen to their own intuition.

Tim, now 64, says in January 2016 his wife Nikki, herself a nurse, noticed one of the moles on his back looked red and not as it should.

"I am quite fair-skinned, I had red hair as a child, and I have got lots of freckles and moles but I never really had any problems with them.

"And then my wife noticed this mole on my back, which I could not actually see myself because of where it was.

"She thought it just did not look quite right, it looked quite red and angry.

"I went to my local surgery and the doctor said 'don't worry, but come back in two to three weeks'.

"But I was quite concerned about it, we just thought something wasn't right and because I had private healthcare at the time I thought I would go and see someone privately," he says.

A biopsy of the mole was taken at the Oaks Hospital in Colchester and it was confirmed as being advanced melanoma.

"I was surprised really at 62 that is suddenly appeared.

"I suppose when I look back, as a child we lived in Aden in the middle east, and we would often be out in the sun and in those days no-one knew about the dangers so we would be out with no hats on and no cream.

"But I have a sister and a brother and I am the only one to have developed skin cancer," he says.

Tim, who is a big fan of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, underwent a number of tests and scans and multiple operations to remove the melanomas, but they kept returning.

By this time he had unfortunately been made redundant from his job.

"I was worried because I was not sure about what care I would get but I transferred on to NHS treatment and they were as wonderful as at the Oaks.

"I had excellent care in the Mary Barron Suite there.

"They operated to remove my lymph nodes, which is like a mastectomy operation, and in all I think I have had about five or six operations.

"The skin cancer was very aggressive. I was at level four and level five is as bad as it gets," admits Tim.

But following his most recent operation in November of last year, and the melanoma once again swiftly returning, his oncologist said his only option would be trying something called immunotherapy.

The treatment fires up the immune system and helps it fight off the cancer cells.

"I wasn't in good shape to be honest," says Tim.

The immunotherapy treatment began in December last year when Tim was given a combination of the drugs nivolumab and ipilimumab.

He received four session with this before switching to nivolumab monotherapy.

"I had to have lots of blood test in between the treatments, to check everyone was okay and it was very intensive.

"There are lots of side potential side effects but actually I just felt very, very tired.

"Half of My face did swell up, which was a very odd feeling, but it went down within 24 hours.

"I was so lucky, and I am so grateful to the NHS because those drugs are hellish expensive, but I am starting to feel much better and feeling really positive about the future.

"It has done a world of good."

Tim has now been told his disease is in control and tumours around his body have all calcified since beginning treatment.

He is taking the opportunity, with the national awareness month, to urge people to get their moles and freckles checked - and to seek a second opinion if they are unsure.

"I did try to do that myself before turning to the private route but both myself and Nikki thought something wasn't right.

"As I said, I could not actually see the mole but my wife did and flagged it up.

"I was chatting to others in a similar position to me whilst waiting for therapy at hospital and 100 per cent of them told me they had not initially been taken seriously when they originally sought help."

Tim also wants to appeal to hair dressers to be vigilant as moles can often be hidden under the hair.

"It is this issue of it being caught early enough and when hairdressers are washing hair they might notice a mole or freckle which has changed from last time.

"I think it would always be worth mentioning," he says.

Tim is now looking to the future with Nikki and their two grown up children Thomas and Cecily, who both live in London.

"I am not cured but I am feeling very positive," he adds.