Sun-loving model, 25, was told not to worry about an innocent-looking freckle that turned out to be a deadly melanoma – as she shares photos of the spot to warn NO ONE is safe from skin cancer
- Oceana Strachan grew up at the beach and tanned frequently from age 16 to 20
- She started to take sun safety seriously three years ago got a skin check
- The check revealed a melanoma that could have spread to her lymph nodes
- The 25-year-old is now encouraging everyone to get regular skin checks
Pictured: Oceana Strachan
A young model who spent four years sunbaking with tanning oil has opened up about her terrifying ordeal when a seemingly normal freckle turned out to be skin cancer.
When Oceana Strachan, who lives in Wollongong on the NSW south coast, first noticed a small bump on her right shin in late 2019, she brushed it off as a pimple or hair follicle.
The bump wasn’t coloured and it didn’t look like a regular mole.
She got it checked by a doctor who assured her it was nothing to worry about. Then Covid-19 and the subsequent lockdowns hit, and Ms Strachan wasn’t able to get another skin check for months.
By March 2021, the 25-year-old told Daily Mail Australia that she noticed the mole was getting darker and after pushing a different doctor to perform a biopsy, her worst fears came true.
‘I have naturally olive skin so I tan really easily and spent most summer days from the age of about 16 to 20 in the sun,’ she said.
Pictured: Oceana Strachan with her boyfriend Conor Hegyi, 25, who is a disability worker
Oceana Strachan says she spent four years sunbaking at the beaches around Sydney and the NSW south coast
Oceana Strachan said the melanoma didn’t look like a regular mole (left), and was slightly raised with no colour at first
‘So when the doctor told me it was a spreadable melanoma, I couldn’t take it in,’ she said.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It usually looks like a mole and occurs on parts of the body that have been exposed to the sun.
Ms Strachan was diagnosed with stage two melanoma, which means her mole had the potential to spread to her lymph nodes and turn into life-threatening cancer.
When the doctor explained the steps to remove the melanoma, she started fearing the worst and couldn’t hold the tears back.
Pictured: Oceana Strachan preparing for her melanoma-removal operation on Wednesday
Pictured: Oceana Strachan in hospital before her melanoma removal operation in late April
Pictured: Oceana Strachan with a bandage on her leg after getting a dangerous mole removed
She had a test to see if the disease had spread throughout the rest her body and, in the 10 days that it took to get the test back, the young woman did wonder what would happen if her situation was life-threatening.
The results came back clear and she had surgery to get the 0.3mm mole removed.
‘It sounds tiny, but it’s still dangerous,’ she said.
‘The doctor told me I was really lucky because it didn’t look like a regular melanoma.’
Ms Strachan will undergo further testing to ensure the melanoma doesn’t spread, and now wants to share her story to encourage others to get tested.
Oceana Strachan and her partner Conor both decided to get skin checks, before she was tols she had melanoma
Oceana Strachan said it doesn’t matter what colour your skin in, everyone can get skin cancer
The model said she is now easily triggered when she sees young girls wearing tanning lotion on the sand
The model said she’s now concerned when she sees young girls wearing tanning lotion on the sand.
‘I want to go up to the and tell them to be safe – to be safer. I’m 25 and I just had a melanoma cut out, and I had to learn the hard way,’ she said.
‘It doesn’t matter what colour your skin is, you can still get melanoma.’
Since sharing her story online, Ms Strachan has replied to more than 50 private messages and comments from people telling her they have had the same ordeal.
MELANOMA IS THE MOST DANGEROUS FORM OF SKIN CANCER
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer. It happens after the DNA in skin cells is damaged (typically due to harmful UV rays) and then not repaired so it triggers mutations that can form malignant tumors.
Around 15,900 new cases occur every year in the UK, with 2,285 Britons dying from the disease in 2016, according to Cancer Research UK statistics.
- Sun exposure: UV and UVB rays from the sun and tanning beds are harmful to the skin
- Moles: The more moles you have, the greater the risk for getting melanoma
- Skin type: Fairer skin has a higher risk for getting melanoma
- Hair color: Red heads are more at risk than others
- Personal history: If you’ve had melanoma once, then you are more likely to get it again
- Family history: If previous relatives have been diagnosed, then that increases your risk
This can be done by removing the entire section of the tumor or by the surgeon removing the skin layer by layer. When a surgeon removes it layer by layer, this helps them figure out exactly where the cancer stops so they don’t have to remove more skin than is necessary.
The patient can decide to use a skin graft if the surgery has left behind discoloration or an indent.
- Immunotherapy, radiation treatment or chemotherapy:
This is needed if the cancer reaches stage III or IV. That means that the cancerous cells have spread to the lymph nodes or other organs in the body.
- Use sunscreen and do not burn
- Avoid tanning outside and in beds
- Apply sunscreen 30 minutes before going outside
- Keep newborns out of the sun
- Examine your skin every month
- See your physician every year for a skin exam
Source: Skin Cancer Foundation and American Cancer Society