My Daughter Died In My Arms, and I Could’ve Stopped It—The Story No Mom Should Have to Tell

Even though the American Cancer Society warns that melanoma (or skin cancer) is a very common cancer among young adults, most of us think it will never happen to us, or our kids—that’s why Jennifer Nicholson, a British mother, wants her daughter’s story heard.

Her beautiful, lively, fair-skinned and active daughter, Freja, died last November at just 18 years old—of skin cancer.

Freja feature
Photo: Freja Nicholson on Facebook

NIcholson says that though she was very careful to sunscreen her kids carefully on vacations to hot destinations, she was more lax about it when they were just playing outside at home.
“There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t wish I could go back and just take five minutes to put sun cream on her delicate young skin when I mistakenly thought there was no danger,” Jennifer told the Mirror. “No mother should see her child die. I cradled mine in my arms as she took her last breaths and with her a part of me died too.”

Four years before Freja’s death, her mom spotted a suspicious mole on her back. Doctors cut it out and tested it, but it came back negative for cancer. However, two years later, when Freja was suffering from headaches, more tests were run, and doctors found a lump in her arm. It was melanoma, and though doctors removed it, there was worse news ahead: the cancer quickly returned and spread, becoming stage 3, and was in her brain, breast, arm, and lung.

Freja FB
Photo: Freja Nicholson on Facebook

“It was only then I remembered that mole on her back,” Nicholson said. “I asked if they were related and doctors gently told me I should in no way have let our guard down. If I’d known, I would have had her covered from head to toe — even in the U.K. sun — but I never dreamt it could lead to cancer.”

Nicholson is now urging parents to sunscreen their kid with ample SPF (talk to your pediatrician about what SPF is best for the area you live in). She told the Mirror that she is still plagued with guilt, wishing she could go back in time and take the protective steps to prevent Freja’s untimely death.  “Don’t make the same mistake, because you will never ever forgive yourself,” she said.

Just reading this mom’s story broke my heart wide open! My kids are extremely fair-skinned and Nicholson’s story has definitely renewed my commitment to slathering them with sunscreen whenever we go out. According to the CDC, only 13 percent of teen girls and seven percent of teen boys report putting on SPF 15 sunscreen or higher before spending time in the sun. This is especially frightening because getting a sunburn is a major contributing factor to skin cancer, which 1 in 5 Americans will get.

Mamas and Dads, let’s learn from Freja’s tragically short life and get serious about sunscreen! Make sure and talk to your doctor about what SPF in best for the area of the country you live in!


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Jenny Rapson
Jenny Rapson is a follower of Christ, a wife and mom of three from Ohio and a freelance writer and editor. You can find her at her blog, Mommin' It Up, or follow her on Twitter.