England wicketkeeper batter Sam Billings has revealed his battle with skin cancer and now wants to create awareness among fellow players on the dangers of being exposed to the sun.
Billings underwent two operations last year to remove a malignant melanoma on his chest, he informed on his social media handles on Tuesday. He was diagnosed with skin cancer following a routing screening at his county Kent.
“I had a melanoma that was 0.6mm (deep). The threshold of when it gets really serious is 0.7mm, so really close.”
“If I had left that screening to go to the meeting, and waited until my next one six months down the line it could have been far, far more serious. The margins are so small but can have massive consequences,” the 31-year-old told the Telegraph.
Billings has played three Tests, 28 ODIs and 37 T20s for England. He is currently playing county cricket.
He said his battle with the dreaded disease has put things in perspective for him.
“It did give me the clarity of making decisions based on what I want to do rather than maybe just toeing the line and being seen to do the right thing.
“I have tried to do that over the years and it’s sometimes resulted in carrying drinks. You realise that cricket isn’t the be all and end all. It’s hugely important but you need to put things in perspective. It’s also made me much more empathetic.”
He warned fellow players and fans against dangers of spending too much time in the sun.
“I’m not just talking about the pro game. It’s club cricketers, people who watch the game. I played at Lord’s recently and the sun was out, even if it wasn’t 25 degrees. It might only have been 18 but you can still get sunburnt.”
“We treat it (applying suncream) like a bit of a chore, because the education around it isn’t as good as in countries like Australia. I’d like to see everyone in cricket working together: the sun is out, so let’s protect ourselves,” he added.