Sue Nicholls is a soap industry stalwart, having spent over 40 years of her life as the character of Audrey Roberts in Coronation Street. Her nuanced portrayal of Audrey has earned her numerous awards over the years. In fact, it is testament to Sue’s nuanced performance that she took home a British Soap Award for both Best Dramatic and Best Comedic performance.
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Sue’s seasoned professionalism has earned a loyal fanbase and one attentive audience member repaid the favour.
Anna Bianconi-Moore – a nurse who had just returned home from a busy shift in the dermatology clinic at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, spotted an alarming sign on Sue’s skin when watching the show one night.
Anna noticed an irregular-looking mole on Sue’s shoulder, which is one of the symptoms of skin cancer.
“I noticed it was irregular in shape and had at least three different colours that I could distinguish by standing close to the television,” Anna told Mail Online in 2012.
She continued: “These are two of the red-flag signals that distinguish the most deadly form of skin cancer – malignant melanoma. I was obviously incredibly worried for Sue, and felt I needed to do something.”
Before the episode had ended, Anna went online and contacted ITV to raise her concerns.
The mole was checked-out by the company doctor, who then measured the mole and asked Sue to return a few months later to check if it had grown.
She added: “I wrote that I had observed a sinister-looking lesion and suggested that Sue should see a specialist, sooner rather than later, as it may require urgent attention.”
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While the dramatic events were unfolding, the mole grew a quarter of an inch, so Sue was referred to a skin cancer specialist who then decided the mole should be removed.
ITV at the time said: “Anna Bianconi-Moore was watching a scene in which Sue Nicholls – who plays Audrey Roberts – was in a sleeveless nightie when she noticed a mole on her shoulder. That mole turned out to be the most deadly form of skin cancer.
“Whilst millions watched the same scene in their living rooms at home, specialist skin care nurse Anna was able to diagnose the blemish as malignant melanoma after pausing the TV and taking a closer look.
“The 55 year old who’s from Suffolk then got in touch with the show to warn Sue to get the mole checked.
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“In the end, almost a year passed before Sue had the mole removed and the diagnosis of malignant melanoma was confirmed. The actress then appealed for the viewer to get back in touch.
“The two finally met on the Coronation Street set at the end of May so Sue could thank her in person – for potentially saving her life.”
Skin cancer – how to spot the deadliest form
As the NHS explains, melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
“This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women,” says the NHS.
Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp, notes the health body.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than one colour, the health body explains.
It adds: “The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed. Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.”
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