Who Is Oceana Strachan Melanoma? A young model who put off her yearly skin check because of the Covid pandemic has issued an urgent warning after a ‘tiny’ freckle on her ankle turned out to be a deadly melanoma.  

Oceana Strachan, 26, first noticed the innocent looking freckle in 2019, but doctors told her it didn’t look suspicious at the time.

So even when the Wollongong-based beach lover noticed the mark changing she didn’t stress too much.

In fact she continued to put off her once regular skin checks because of the Covid pandemic – a mistake which could have cost her dearly.

Who Is Oceana Strachan Melanoma?

Oceana Strachan is the face of this year’s Game On Mole campaign, an initiative of the Melanoma Institute Australia to start conversations about skin cancer and encourage people to keep an eye on their skin.

Miss Strachan went to the doctor earlier this year after spotting a small but unusual-looking mole on her ankle.

She was told it was likely just a new mole but she opted to have a biopsy anyway, which revealed the mole was a melanoma.

While the cancer was only 0.3 millimetres deep, she said, it had the potential to reach her lymph nodes and spread throughout her body.

Miss Strachan said receiving the news she had skin cancer was “absolutely overwhelming”.

She had to go in for surgery to remove the melanoma and came out with a five-centimetre scar.

 

26-year-old model Oceana Strachen has revealed why it is important to get frequent skin checks after a freckle on her shin turned out to be melanoma

26-year-old model Oceana Strachen has revealed why it is important to get frequent skin checks after a freckle on her shin turned out to be melanoma

The young model didn't get the mole checked immediately when it started to change

 

The young model didn’t get the mole checked immediately when it started to change

When the mole became itchy and red Oceana decided to get it looked at again and also asked for a biopsy of the area in April.

‘It was a very simple process which took five minutes and required one stitch,’ she told Yahoo.

Despite having the foresight to ask for the biopsy the young woman was shocked when results showed she had stage two melanoma, which means her mole had the potential to spread to her lymph nodes and turn into life-threatening cancer.

‘I had a coastal upbringing and spent a lot of time in the sun as a teenager. I have olive skin and naively thought if I got sunburnt, I would deal with the consequences much later in life.’

She spent four years sunbaking with tanning oil and said the bump wasn’t coloured and it didn’t look like a regular mole.

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 says she spent four years sunbaking at the beaches around Sydney and the NSW south coast

Pictured: The light-coloured melanoma on her shin

Pictured: Her stitches after the operation

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 told Daily Mail Australia previously.

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.

When the doctor explained the steps to remove the melanoma, she started fearing the worst and couldn’t hold her tears back.

Pictured: Oceana Strachan preparing for her melanoma-removal operation on Wednesday

Pictured: Oceana Strachan preparing for her melanoma-removal operation on Wednesday

Pictured: Oceana Strachan in hospital

Pictured: Oceana Strachan in hospital

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

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 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

 

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 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 them and tell them to be safe – to be safer. 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.

Causes

  • 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

Treatment 

  • Removal of the melanoma:

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.

  • Skin grafting:

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.

Prevention

  • 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

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