A young woman who always took extreme care in the sun has died from skin cancer at the age of 21.
University student Cerys Harding, from Cardiff, died just four months after being diagnosed with the disease.
Her mother Beverly, 50, said dark-haired Cerys had always tried to avoid sunburn - and never used sunbeds.
'Cerys was so careful,' she said: 'She was the only person on the beach that had a towel over her as well as under her.
Our angel: Cerys Harding (centre), 21, died just four months after being diagnosed with a rare form of skin cancer
'She was a girl who never never sat in the sun - she hated the sun. She had dark hair and dark eyes and it didn’t make sense, none of it did. She didn’t use sunbeds or anything like that.'
The university student had only recently celebrated her 21st birthday in November when doctors discovered the skin cancer.
Beverly, 50, said: 'She’d had this funny turn and she didn’t know what had happened. I just rang NHS Direct because she didn’t seem really ill and we made an appointment for later that day.
'At the doctor’s we were told she needed a brain scan but we still weren’t really worried. We went up to hospital to have the scan and it all snowballed from there.'
The family, from Canton, Cardiff, described Cerys as an 'angel' and 'a parent’s dream'.
Her mother said: 'Never in a million years did we think anything like this would ever happen to Cerys as she still had so much to give.'
Full life: Cerys Harding in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Some of her family travelled from Australia to spend a final Christmas with her
Her father David, 52, said: 'She was worried about leaving us, that’s the first thing she said. She was always thinking of other people. All she said was that it wasn’t meant to be.'
Both David and Beverly took time off work to care for Cerys and took her on one last holiday to Paris following the news - while family also flew over from Australia for one final Christmas together.
Her brother Lloyd, 24, said: 'It was as normal as it could be. She told us: "I don’t want everyone crying all over me I just want to carry on as normal.'' So that’s what we did.'
Cerys's family are mystified why she should have developed skin cancer when she was so careful about protecting herself. It quickly spread from her skin into her brain, chest and spine.
Her brother added: 'We may never know exactly what caused it.'
Cerys wanted to be a primary school teacher and was studying history at Swansea University. She did not finish the full three years of her history degree but was awarded it to her on the merit of the work she had already done.
Fun-loving student: Cerys (left) with friends. She had wanted to be a primary school teacher and was studying at Swansea University
Cancer Research UK say that each day more than two people under 35 in Britain are diagnosed with malignant melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Cancer Research UK spokesman Ed Yong said up to 80 per cent of skin cancers are directly related to over-exposure to the sun.
He said: 'Research has shown that the vast majority of skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to UV radiation from the sun.
'It is impossible to say what happened in this individual case but we cannot stress how important it is to protect yourself from the sun.'
The charity’s 2011 SunSmart campaign reveals an alarming tripling in melanoma rates among British 15-34 year olds since the late Seventies.
At that time, there were around 290 cases of melanoma among 15-34 year-olds. Now more than 900 young Britons are being diagnosed with the disease each year - more than two a day.
Thirty years ago, there were 1.8 cases of melanoma per 100,000 people in this age group. Now there are 5.9 cases per 100,000.
Latest available figures show that the total number of cases of malignant melanoma for all ages increased from 10,800 in 2007 to 11,700 in 2008 – a rise of 8.5 per cent.
Caroline Cerny, Cancer Research UK’s SunSmart campaign manager, said: 'It’s very worrying to see that the number of young adults being diagnosed with this potentially fatal disease has risen so dramatically, especially since cancer is typically a disease that affects older people.
'With summer approaching after such a harsh winter, everyone is looking forward to enjoying some sunshine. But it’s more important than ever to be aware of the dangers of getting sunburnt.
'Young women in particular need to take care since they are more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with melanoma than young men.'
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