Deborah Hutton says she is now fully prepared to face a lifetime of skin cancer treatment following her last operation.
The host of LifeStyle's Find Me A Beach House shocked fans and friends when she posted an Instagram photo of her face, following a three-hour surgery to remove two skin cancers.
The photo revealed a raw, angry scar with stitches that stretched over her top lip and up to her nose.
And even though, the operation was successful, Deborah reveals that she knows this is not the end of her journey – and she will face more skin cancers over the next few years.
“I know the reality is that my lifetime will be spent battling skin cancers,” she reveals to lifestyle.com.au.
“This is the third time I’ve had surgery to remove skin cancer and the truth is, there will be more surgeries.
"The damage I’ve done to my skin over the years is way too serious to expect anything else.”
While Deborah covers up carefully when she’s in the sun now, she spent her younger years in Queensland where she rarely used sunscreen, and she regularly burned her skin and watched it peel before starting the tanning process again.
Deborah on the set of Foxtel's Find Me A Beach House
“I was so naive,” she says. “And I am so angry at myself that I never thought that this would happen.”
The 58-year-old adds, “I’ve always lived my life with no regrets. I always think that things play out the way they have and that is that. Situations evolve and I've always been at peace with that.
"But if I could roll back the clock I would really look at my relationship with the sun and how I thought that brown, toasted skin was beautiful, and it truly isn’t.
"I do hope the message about sun damage and cancer is filtering down to a younger generation.
"Getting your skin checked should be as much a part of your routine as getting a hair cut or going to the dentist, but sadly it isn't."
When Deborah shared her post-surgery photo on Instagram to draw awareness, the former model was lauded for her bravery but she admits she was terrified.
"I don’t post a lot on social media,” she says "I find there’s a weird collective energy on there at the moment, but I knew this was important. Believe it or not, this photo was the first time I saw my scar. It wasn't in the mirror, it was in this photo.
“I was so shocked when I saw it for the first time. I honestly thought it wouldn’t be as bad as it was.
“My first thought was ‘I didn’t know it was going to be this big!' I thought it would be smaller, but it wasn’t and it was pretty confronting."
But even though Deborah was taken aback by the picture she knew sharing it would only help.
"I had no pre-meditated ideas of what would happen," she said. "And I was pretty floored by the reaction.”
That reaction was more than 7000 likes, hundreds of comments and a lot of private messages.
And the cover star of Australian Women's Weekly admits that reaction from strangers, fans and friends has really helped her though a difficult time.
Especially as many have sent her their own photos from their surgeries. She has also been the inspiration for many to get checked.
“A mate of mine in Melbourne had been putting off getting his skin cancer checked and after I posted my photo, he went and discovered he had a cancer on the tip of his nose," she explains.
"He is now having surgery and he would never have done that otherwise. That's been really reassuring as hopefully the message is getting out there."
So, what’s next for Deborah following her surgery?
“Well, the next stage in my treatment is that I will use a chemo cream to bring out any cancer cells," she explains. "You put it on your face and then it brings them all to the surface like a scab and it isn’t pleasant so I am going to disappear for two weeks up the coast to somewhere quiet while that happens.
"After that, I will get check ups every three months and then I am sure there will be more treatments to go through.”
But Deborah, who turns 60 in 18 months, is prepared for that.
“Since COVID and the lockdown, I feel like life has become a bit more serene for me,” she says. “I think I would like to move out of Sydney – not too far – but away from the crowds so I can enjoy the peace and the calm energy.
"I used to be such a party girl when I was younger but now I just enjoy a more simple life and I hope that continues for a long time."
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