A young model who spent her teenage years sunbaking with tanning oil only to end up with a deadly melanoma has shared the scar that’s left behind from her major surgery to remove it.
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 26-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.
Now, a year later, the model and mum-to-be has shared photos of her surgery scar as a reminder to get regular skin checks and be safe in the Aussie sun.
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
Oceana Strachan said the melanoma didn’t look like a regular mole (left), and was slightly raised with no colour at first
‘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,’ Ms Strachan said in 2021.
‘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.
Now, a year later, the model and mum-to-be has shared photos of her surgery scar as a reminder to get regular skin checks and be safe in the Aussie sun
Pictured: Oceana Strachan preparing for her melanoma-removal operation on Wednesday
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.
What are the warning signs of melanoma?
The first five letters of the alphabet are a guide to help you recognise the warning signs of melanoma.
A is for Asymmetry. Most melanomas are asymmetrical. If you draw a line through the middle of the lesion, the two halves don’t match, so it looks different from a round to oval and symmetrical common mole.
B is for Border. Melanoma borders tend to be uneven and may have scalloped or notched edges, while common moles tend to have smoother, more even borders.
C is for Colour. Multiple colours are a warning sign. While benign moles are usually a single shade of brown, a melanoma may have different shades of brown, tan or black. As it grows, the colours red, white or blue may also appear.
D is for Diameter or Dark. While it’s ideal to detect a melanoma when it is small, it’s a warning sign if a lesion is the size of a pencil eraser (about 6 mm, or ¼ inch in diameter) or larger. Some experts say it is also important to look for any lesion, no matter what size, that is darker than others. Rare, amelanotic melanomas are colourless.
E is for Evolving. Any change in size, shape, colour or elevation of a spot on your skin, or any new symptom in it, such as bleeding, itching or crusting, may be a warning sign of melanoma.
Oceana Strachan and her partner Conor both decided to get skin checks, before she was told she had melanoma
Oceana Strachan said it doesn’t matter what colour your skin in, everyone can get skin cancer
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 26 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.
‘I am very lucky that all I’m left with is a scar. Early detection is what saved my life. As you can see in the first image, my melanoma spot looked like a regular mole but I noticed changes like itching that raised a red flag for me which is why I persisted for a biopsy,’ she said on Monday.
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 (her scar today pictured right)
She used oils on the scar after a month to help with the healing process
She used oils on the scar after a month to help with the healing process.
‘I was consistent with daily oils for about eight months and now I just do it when I remember during the week but very happy with how it’s healing so far,’ she continued.
‘Being on my ankle it was quite a tight area to stitch up, I was very lucky to not need skin grafting and as you can see the scar has stretched a little but that’s my fault for getting back on my feet too soon after surgery.’