A young model has spoken candidly about the dangers of tanning after being diagnosed with skin cancer.
When Oceana Strachan spotted a small mark on her leg in 2019, she assumed it was a freckle.
The 25-year-old, from New South Wales, Australia, was even told the bump was nothing to worry about when she got it checked out by a doctor.
But as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and she stopped getting regular check-ups, the influencer noticed the blemish was changing.
Her mole darkened and changed to a different colour, which led to her getting more tests done.
Devastatingly, her doctor diagnosed her with the most dangerous form of skin cancer.
Oceana told the Daily Mail: "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.
“So when the doctor told me it was a spreadable melanoma, I couldn't take it in.”
The model was told she had stage two melanoma, which is life-threatening if it reacjes her lymph nodes.
But thankfully, she was able to get the 0.3mm mole removed and the cancer hadn’t spread to other areas of her body.
She said: “It sounds tiny, but it's still dangerous.
“The doctor told me I was really lucky because it didn't look like a regular melanoma.”
What is melanoma?
Melanoma is a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.
The most common sign of melanoma is the appearance of a new mole or a change in an existing mole.
This can happen anywhere on the body, but the most commonly affected areas are the back in men and the legs in women.
Melanomas are uncommon in areas that are protected from sun exposure, such as the buttocks and the scalp.
In most cases, melanomas have an irregular shape and are more than 1 colour.
The mole may also be larger than normal and can sometimes be itchy or bleed.
Look out for a mole that gradually changes shape, size or colour.
Oceana now has to get regular check-ups to monitor her skin and check that the melanoma hasn’t returned.
She’s been sharing her story on Instagram to encourage others to be more careful when lying out in the sun.
In a recent video post, she said: “I never want to scare anyone from being in the sun or doing outdoor activities I purely just want you guys to be more aware.
“I’ve never been the perfect example myself, I’ve had so many people countlessly tell me ‘there’s nothing healthy about a tan’.
“And I cringe when I think back to my responses.”
Oceana used to brush off comments about skin cancer by joking “you have to die of something”.
But after her worrying diagnosis, she understands the risks involved with tanning constantly.
She said: “I can’t believe those words came out of my mouth.
“I’m 25 and I don’t want to die this young.”
The model urged her followers to do regular checks of the skin for any signs of cancer.
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She added: “Being aware and having self initiative is what saved me and thankfully I was able to be one of the lucky ones to catch it early enough.
“Like I state in the video, I was swimming in feelings of guilt and constantly blaming myself for being in this situation.”
Oceana’s post has been viewed more than 18,500 and many have praised her for speaking so openly about her battle with skin cancer.
One commenter said: “This is such a powerful testimony from a brave young woman. Thank you for raising awareness.”
And another wrote: “Brave. Glad you did it, hopefully it helps others check and take action!”
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