A 37-year-old mum has opened up about the horrific moment doctors told her the ‘annoying pimple’ on her temple was actually cancer.
Sydney’s mother, Sarah O’Brien, dismissed the growth above her right eye as a stain before going to a clinic to have it removed despite it still being there two months later.
«Every time I patted my bangs with my fingers I was touching it, which annoyed me, so I wanted it to go away for that reason,» Sarah told FEMAIL.
«I walked into the skin clinic without thinking about it, then the doctor said it didn’t look good.»
Tests revealed it was basal cell carcinoma, a common skin cancer, which needed to be removed immediately.
Mom-of-one Sarah O’Brien was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (BCC) in May 2022 – a common type of skin cancer. Three months ago she noticed a bump on her right temple and thought it was a pimple, but when it started to get bigger and hurt she had it checked out.
Eight months later, the mother is sharing her story so others can be aware of the signs.
She said the The news came as a ‘complete shock’ as she had undergone a skin exam five months before doctors confirmed the growth was cancerous.
Sarah, now 38, believes driving with the sun hitting her face – and not wearing SPF in the car – caused the spot to appear, as it was on her driver’s side above his eye.
«I’ve always been sun-conscious and wear sunscreen every day when I know I’m going to be in the sun – but I never thought about wearing sunscreen while driving,» she said .
Sarah said skin cancer runs in her family and she is aware of the dangers of the sun when spending time outdoors.
She also said it was easy to get a diagnosis.
The doctor performed a quick needle biopsy to take a sample of the lump and send it to the lab for analysis.
A few days later, Sarah was called back to the clinic to discuss the results – and was told it was cancerous.
The now 38-year-old believes the lump developed because she was not wearing sunscreen while driving, as the bump was on the driver’s side of her face.
«It was safe, I think everyone believes he’s invincible until something happens,» she said.
Fortunately, the cancer was benign and had not spread anywhere else in the body, so it was enough to remove it without further treatment.
For this reason, Sarah considers herself lucky.
«I used to think cancer was an ‘old person’s problem’…but now I know it’s definitely not and it can happen to anyone, at any age,» a- she declared.
Fortunately, the cancer was benign and had not spread anywhere else in the body, so it was enough to remove it without further treatment. After the prognosis, the doctor removed the lump that day with local anesthetic but also had to remove “about 3mm of tissue” from around it, leaving Sarah needing seven to nine stitches.
After the prognosis, the doctor removed the lump that day with local anesthetic but also had to remove “about 3mm of tissue” from around it, leaving Sarah needing seven to nine stitches.
The scar took five months to heal and Sarah used organic oil to heal the wound.
Today, she wears sunscreen every time she leaves the house and teaches her three-year-old son about sun safety.
«It’s so important to get your skin checked — and for young people to take care of their skin,» she said.
«It’s so important to get your skin checked – and for young people to take care of their skin,» she said.
Tips for using sunscreen:
* Put it on clean, dry skin 15-30 minutes before going out in the sun to give it time to interact with your skin. Reapply it just before going out – you’ll increase the amount applied and be more likely to get the SPF benefit shown.
* Cover all parts of the body not protected by clothing (don’t forget your ears, neck, backs of hands and tops of feet).
* Apply evenly and don’t rub in excessively – most sunscreens absorb into the outer layer of the skin and don’t need to be rubbed in vigorously.
* Reapply at least once every two hours and after swimming or exercising.
* Think beyond the beach and the pool – use sunscreen whenever you go outdoors for a long time, such as to the park, a lunchtime walk to the shops, playing sports or garden.
* Store your sunscreen at a temperature below 30 degrees Celsius. If you leave it in the glove compartment of your car or in the sun, it may lose its effectiveness. Keep it in the sky with the drinks, in the shade, or wrapped in a towel.
* Do not use sunscreens that have passed their expiry date, as they may have lost their effectiveness.
Two in three Australians will develop skin cancer before the age of 70 – but new TAL research reveals most Australians don’t know how common skin cancer is in Australia, with more than 7 in 10 (72%) think the diagnosis rate is lower.
TAL’s Chief Health Services Officer, Dr Priya Chagan, said Australians should apply sunscreen every morning and reapply during the day, check predicted UV levels daily and learn to self- check.
«Checking your own skin regularly can help maximize the chances of detecting skin cancer at an early stage and greatly increases the chances of successful treatment,» Dr. Chagan said.
«Despite the importance of self-checking in early detection, only 36% of Australians know how to self-check their skin.»
To find out how to self-check your skin and book a skin check at your local GP, visit the TAL website here.