'She was unrecognisable. I’ll never forget the shock of it' - model Tiffany Stanley on losing her mother to skin cancer
Top Model Tiffany Stanley has told of the heartbreaking loss of her beloved mother at the age of just 58.
Sharon Stanley, from Moone, Co Kildare, passed away last week after losing her battle with skin cancer.
Her daughter Tiffany (31), who is carving out a successful career in Los Angeles, has revealed her mother had melanoma, connected with her love of sunbathing in her younger days.
“The doctor told me that it all happened from one tiny freckle and that it might even have been on the back of her neck so she would never have spotted it,” said Tiffany.
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As a younger woman, Sharon loved the sun.
“She would lay out and sunbathe with coconut oil,” her daughter added.
“This was 20 years ago, so she never knew this was something that could kill you.”
A wonderful mother with a deep connection with her four children – the youngest of whom is just 17 – Sharon had qualified as a veterinary nurse because of her great love of animals.
“She gave it up when she had her children, because that was her passion in life – she really loved her family,” said Tiffany.
Later on, she became a volunteer with the local Citizens Information Centre.
“She loved her work there and she helped so many people. She had the biggest funeral – hundreds of people from Kildare came along and it was all because of her work at the centre,” added Tiffany.
Diagnosed two-and-a-half years ago after complaining of feeling tired and unwell, Sharon was initially given six months to live. However, her cancer went into remission and she enjoyed extra time with her family.
Two weeks ago, Tiffany returned from the US after her brother phoned her urgently, telling her her mother had taken a turn for the worst.
“She was unrecognisable. I’ll never forget the shock of it,” she said, of seeing Sharon in hospital, explaining that her weight had plummeted to just six stone.
This has been a very difficult time for the family because earlier this year, they lost both Sharon’s parents, Paddy and Betty.
“They helped raise me and my brothers and sister,” Tiffany said, adding that her father currently lives in London.
It was when she returned to Ireland for her grandmother’s funeral in August that she noticed her mother was not herself.
“She seemed okay in August but she was quiet and was sleeping a lot. We knew something was up,” she said, adding that she “didn’t want to pry”.
“She was very open with us as a mother, but I think she didn’t want to worry us. But we knew something was up and we started to realise something’s not right.
“Then two months later, she was gone.”
Tiffany stars in reality show The Look: All Stars on the CW network in America, but says she is planning to stay in Ireland until after Christmas to help her siblings adjust to life without their mother.
“I couldn’t imagine spending Christmas away from them this year. It’s going to be very hard,” she said.
Sharon died before she could tell her own story and pass on her experience of cancer as she had wished.
However, asked what her mother’s message would have been, Tiffany said: “She would have said stay out of the sun and another message for us as kids was to be happy, enjoy life, do your best to stay healthy and take precautions.”
She has now called for a national skin cancer screening and urged everyone to use sunscreens even on a cloudy day – with natural sunscreens offering more protection.
For more information on the signs and symptoms of melanoma visit cancer.ie.