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19th Aug 2021

Sean Lock’s skin cancer warning after one-night stand noticed his symptoms

Charlie Herbert

Sean Lock cancer diagnosis

He attributed his cancer to the job he had before comedy.

A one-night stand that Sean Lock had in his late 20s prompted him to find out that he had cancer, a disease that he battled privately for 31 years.

The world of comedy was rocked when the comedian and 8 Out of 10 Cats star passed away on Wednesday at the age of just 58 after a lengthy battle with cancer, a disease he was first diagnosed with in 1990.

But if it hadn’t been for a one-night stand in his youth, he may have lost his life at an even younger age.

Speaking to the Daily Mail in 2010, Lock explained how before he got into comedy he had a job stripping concrete off buildings, outdoors for up to 12 hours a day.

This resulted in long hours in the sun, and very little sun protection.

He told the paper: “You could hardly ask a big Irish foreman, ‘Please could you rub some Ambre Solaire on my back?’

“And we didn’t wear hats, either. None of us took any notice of the fact that we were going red.

“Actually, I never seemed to suffer from sunburn too much but some of the guys had very pale Irish skin and were so red they must have been in agony. But they would never admit it, probably because they didn’t want to be thought of as soft.”

After bursting onto the comedy scene in the 1980s, Lock would end up being extremely grateful for a night with a woman called Tina, saying that if it hadn’t been for her he may have died years earlier.

“I was in my late 20s and had been in a long-term relationship which had come to its conclusion, so I was single,” he said. “But the fact is, I was with a girl called Tina one night and if I hadn’t been, well, I’d be dead now.”

He explained: “She said there was something weird on my back. I asked her what it looked like and she said it was a patch of skin which was black, misshapen, with a crusty texture and about the size of a 10p piece.

“I had no idea how long it had been there. It didn’t hurt or itch, so there was nothing that would have drawn my attention to it.”

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What Tina had discovered was a malignant melanoma, and it prompted Lock to see a dermatologist. He had the melanoma removed straight away, but admits that he didn’t acknowledge at the time that the words ‘malignant melanoma’ meant one thing – cancer.

Lock said: “I had no idea what the relevance might be to a healthy guy like me. It took a long time for me to take in how significant this malignant melanoma was.”

It was only over the next few years when he heard of explosions of skin cancer cases and a friend of his parents died from cancer that he came to realise how lucky he had been.

He revealed that doctors told him if he hadn’t been referred to a specialist so promptly by his GP, the cancer may have spread to his lymphatic system and may well have been incurable.

For the rest of his life, Lock would never go out in the sun without a shirt on and always used a moisturiser with an SPF every day on his face, and wore hats and sunglasses whenever he went out in the hot sun.

Since his sad death was announced on Wednesday, the world of comedy has united in its devastation at the news. From the likes of Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard, to his 8 Out of 10 Cats co-stars, Jimmy Carr and Jon Richardson, tributes have poured in for the late comedian, who without a shadow of a doubt was one of the true greats of British comedy.