Alana Severs ignored the tiny mark on her fingernail for years – covering it in red nail varnish to hide the ‘embarrassing line’.
Panicked, she went to her GP the next day and they sent her for an urgent referral.
After a biopsy, Ms Severs was diagnosed with melanoma and had to have two surgeries to remove the cancer.
Surgeons at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, removed Alana’s entire fingernail plus 5mm of cancerous tissue.
Now Ms Severs has been left with no fingernail, but she is grateful that she caught that cancer before it spread.
Ms Severs, a nurse, from Portsmouth, Hampshire, said: “Because it was just a tiny line I never thought anything of it and I always wore red nail polish to cover it up because I was embarrassed about it.
“Then reading this article made me panic.
“But I’m relieved I came across it when I did – it might just have saved my life.”
When Ms Severs first spotted the article on Cosmopolitan magazine’s website she immediately knew that something could be wrong with her nail.
She said: “I thought: ‘No way. That can’t be it.’ “I sent screenshots to my partner in an absolute panic and said my nail looks exactly the same.
“I was terrified that I had cancer and couldn’t believe that I ignored it for so long.
“I went to the GP the next day and it was an urgent referral.”
Medics at Queen Alexandra Hospital, Portsmouth, told her she needed her fingernail removed immediately before it spread into her bloodstream.
She said: “By some miracle, although it had been growing outwards and the line was getting bigger, I was so lucky that it hadn’t started growing down yet so I was cured with a few surgeries.
“It was literally reading an article that made me go to the doctors the next day.
“They said it was brilliant that it hadn’t grown down into my hand.
“It had just grown outwards so it hadn’t got to my blood yet.
“I was so lucky that after three years it hadn’t done that.
“It was one of those incredible things that it hadn’t, it could have gone down at any point.”
Now Ms Severs has been left without a fingernail, but she is grateful she caught it before it spread.
She said: “It really shook me up that I saw it in an article.
“It was something that I had and I ignored.
“I’d mentioned it in passing before but it was just rushed off.
“What I thought as a frivolous pastime, reading an article at 11pm, while I was in bed turned out to save my life.
“You don’t think that anything like that would change my life.
“But my life was changed, just by reading an article.
“I could have gone another three years without thinking anything of it – and it could have spread and become deadly.”
Now Ms Severs has been left with no fingernail and had to have a skin graft from her arm to cover her wound.
She said: “After the surgery I felt nauseous and it was painful for quite some time but it did heal.
“Now it doesn’t bother me at all.
“I would rather lose my whole arm and get rid of the cancer than risk it spreading.”