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Civil servant whose cancerous mole was spotted by his mum during a Zoom family quiz aims to turn a button into a £1.2m Bugatti car for charity

·6-min read

A civil servant whose mum spotted a cancerous mole on his temple during a family Zoom quiz is now raising money for charity by asking people to help him turn a button into a £1.2 million Bugatti car.

Civil servant, Kieran Drinkwater, 34, initially dismissed his mum’s concerns when she remarked on a mole on his temple during a virtual get together in the November 2020 lockdown.

Although Kieran, who lives in Lisburn, Northern Ireland, with his occupational therapist wife Emma and their children, Eliza, five, and Ivy, two, told her it had always been there, when in February 2021 he compared it to an old photo and saw how much it had grown, he had it removed.

Kieran was diagnosed with skin cancer in April 2021 after his mum spotted his mole on zoom (Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran was diagnosed with skin cancer in April 2021 after his mum spotted his mole on zoom (Collect/PA Real Life).

He said: “The mole was removed and sent to pathology, then four weeks later the doctor informed me it was cancerous. It was really scary.

“Your mind never forgets when they tell you those words, ‘You’ve got cancer.’

“I was booked into surgery and the doctors removed additional skin from around the mole to ensure they took away all the cancer cells.”

When Kieran looked at this picture of him and his daughter, Eliza, from 2016 he realised his mole had grown and contacted his GP (Collect/PA Real Life).
When Kieran looked at this picture of him and his daughter, Eliza, from 2016 he realised his mole had grown and contacted his GP (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “I was very lucky. I was able to by-pass all the Covid hold-ups and go privately and I didn’t need chemotherapy or radiotherapy. I was given the all-clear in September 2021.

“Now I want to raise money for Stand Up To Cancer, to help other people with the disease.”

Unable to see his mum and dad, who are based in Blackpool, Lancashire, when Covid restrictions were in place, Kieran met up with them virtually for weekly quiz nights.

Kieran contacted his GP after checking his mole on the NHS checklist (Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran contacted his GP after checking his mole on the NHS checklist (Collect/PA Real Life).

And, while he thought his mum was fussing when she remarked on his mole, he is now grateful she “planted a seed of doubt” in his mind.

He said: “My mum just made a very innocent comment – something like, ‘What’s that on your head?’

“She was talking about a mole on my temple and I just replied that I’d had it for years, and she said, ‘I’ve never noticed it before.”

Kieran is now using social media trend Trade Up to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer (Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran is now using social media trend Trade Up to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “Then, I was looking in the mirror in February 2021 and I realised it looked a little bigger. So, I went and looked at an old photograph and it was literally just a spec back then, so I realised I needed to get it seen.”

First, looking on the NHS website, he found a mole checklist and realised his had all the worrying signs.

He said: “Mine had changed colour, was over six millimetres in size and had a jagged edge – all indicators that something was wrong.”

He added: “So I rang my GP and, despite Covid restricting face-to-face appointments, he called me back within hours asking for photos of the mole.

“I was referred through the NHS to have it removed, but I didn’t want to wait, as I had read that if it is cancer even weeks could make a difference.

“Fortunately, I was able to pay to go privately, so I had it removed four weeks later.”

Kieran is now trading items to raise money for charity(Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran is now trading items to raise money for charity(Collect/PA Real Life).

Then, four weeks after his operation in April 2021, Kieran was told tests had confirmed the mole was cancerous and he was called in for further surgery.

Told he had melanoma, he was so grateful it had been caught early and, wanting to raise money for research into the disease, turned to TikTok for inspiration.

Following a trend on the video sharing site for ‘trading up,’ which has seen people start with a paper clip and by continually trading upwards for items of larger value, ending up with a house, he has set himself a goal to start with a button and finish with a £1.2 million Bugatti car.

  • Asymmetrical – melanomas have two very different halves and are an irregular shape.

  • Border – they usually have a notched or ragged border.

  • Colours – melanomas will usually be a mix of two or more colours.

  • Diameter – most melanomas are usually larger than six millimetres in diameter.

  • Enlargement or elevation – a mole that changes size over time is more likely to be a melanoma.

“I really wanted to raise money to help others with cancer,” he said.

“I had seen this influencer doing a trade up on TikTok and thought it would be interesting to do. So I thought hard about what item I wanted to achieve.

“I love cars and I always wanted a Bugatti, which cost over £1 million.”

He added: “So, I launched the Button 2 Bugatti challenge and if I get there, I will sell it and, hopefully, raise £1 million for Stand Up To Cancer.”

Thus far, his button has netted him a pizza oven, a brand new Smeg espresso machine, a Le Creuset espresso set and a massive wall clock.

“We now have a number of items to trade up,” said Kieran.

Kieran is attempting to trade this button for a Bugatti car(Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran is attempting to trade this button for a Bugatti car(Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “We also bought a brand new PS5 console to raffle separately as it is in such high demand, with a draw date of December 3.

“I’ve also set up a fundraising page for people who want to donate money to stand up to cancer directly, but don’t have items to trade, which has raised £650 so far.

“I want to help as many people as I can, as it changed my life when I was told I had cancer.”

  • Starting with a small inexpensive item, such as a hairpin or button, you post your item and desired end goal.

  • Connecting with other traders you swap your inexpensive item for one of more value.

  • You repeat the trading process, swapping your items for one of increasing value until you reach your end goal.

Kieran is also keen to stress that anyone who is concerned about changes to their skin should contact a doctor as soon as possible.

“I know people are nervous to go to the GP because of Covid,” he said.

“But if you’re in doubt, if a mole has changed, I would advise to first check the NHS website and use their guide and to see your GP.”

Kieran is now using social media trend Trade Up to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer (Collect/PA Real Life).
Kieran is now using social media trend Trade Up to raise money for Stand Up to Cancer (Collect/PA Real Life).

He added: “I can’t stress enough how important it is to get things like a mole that’s changed shape checked out as soon as possible.

“I’m so grateful to the NHS. Everyone who is part of it has been working so hard and they were amazing throughout my entire journey.”

To donate and trade go to www.button2bugatti.com

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