Deborah Hutton has forged a long and successful career as a model, magazine editor and TV presenter.
But the household name says its latest role – advocating the need for regular skin risk checks – is its most important.
WATCH IN THE VIDEO ABOVE: Deborah Hutton shares her skin cancer journey to help others
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“Of anything I’ve done or accomplished, this is the most meaningful thing I’ve ever done in my life,” she says.
Two years ago, Deborah underwent surgery to remove skin cancer from her face.
Now 60, she says her brush with cancer is still far from over.
“It will happen again – I’m not off the hook,” says Deborah 7Life.
“This area of the face is a highway for skin cancer.”
The media personality has spent the past few months touring the country with 7NEWS Spotlight, talk to experts about the disease which affects two in three Australians.
“It’s Australia’s disease, we own that,” she said.
On June 1, 2020, Deborah bravely shared a confronting post-surgery image on Instagram.
The close-up photo showed a triangular-shaped wound extending from his outer right nostril, past the corner of his lips to his chin and up to his nose.
The long scar was the result of two basal cell carcinomas (BCC), a type of skin cancer, delicately removed by the star’s trusted surgeon.
Deborah reveals that a wave of gratitude washed over her when she woke up, relieved that her surgeon had managed to remove all the cancer.
“I was in a little pain and felt sorry for myself, but I know skin heals,” she says.
“I have a smirk now, but at least I’m still smiling.”
It’s not the first time she’s had skin cancer, having undergone nearly identical surgery nine years earlier.
But this operation scared Deborah so much that she now has her skin checked every three or four months.
“My paranoia is high,” she says.
“I know my future will be under the knife of a surgeon, cutting something or burning something.”
‘everything’ early detection
The former model is no stranger to promoting her face across the country, through decades of exposure on magazine covers and on television.
But it was a different face that looked on after Deborah shared her post-surgery photo on her Instagram two years ago.
“It’s ironic because my face has been my career for decades, but it would have been different if the cancer was on my shin,” Deborah says.
It was difficult for her to download the real, raw message, but she knew her message needed to be heard.
I ummed and aahed about posting this,” she captioned the post.
“But after enduring the stitches from yet another major surgery to remove two skin cancers, and being extremely grateful that they got it all, I think it’s only fair to remind you to get your skin checked. !
“Please. Early detection is everything!! Don’t delay. To look at the area around my nose before surgery, nothing was visible to the naked eye.
“Only my dermatologist reported it months ago. So don’t worry about your health.
Shortly after posting the image, Deborah was inundated with messages and support from friends and strangers.
The posts haven’t stopped – she continues to get comments from people thanking her for encouraging them to get their skin checked.
“It’s the most meaningful thing I’ve done in my life.“
And she responds to everyone.
“It amazes me the impact it had on them,” says Deborah.
It’s not just strangers who have confided in her, Deborah saying fellow media personality Samantha Armytage has also opened up about her brush with skin cancer.
Deborah is grateful for sharing the post.
“It’s ugly and it’s something people should see,” she says of the image.
“I’m so thrilled with the momentum.”
Health rather than vanity
With the face, head and neck among the areas most susceptible to skin cancer, Deborah explains that controls are more important than vanity.
“Fear shouldn’t be the scar that might remain, fear shouldn’t get to it (the cancer) in time,” she says.
“Your face will heal or you could lose everything – mouth, nose, ear – that you need to communicate with.
“I’m lucky to have an amazing surgeon reconstructing my face.”
With her own skin cancer journey raw and ongoing, Deborah can’t stand the sight of Australians deliberately sunbathing, adding “I wish it was fashionable to be pale”.
It’s one of the reasons she created a range of UPF50+ hats and her brand Canopy Bay.
Do regular checks
Deborah says she wants it 7NEWS Spotlight program “to scare people”.
“We cannot treat the sun as our companion,” she says.
His message is clear: find a doctor you trust, get your skin checked regularly, and don’t delay.
“I’m in my 60s,” she says, “so I’m in a position where I can try to change people’s perceptions of their relationship with the sun.”
7NEWS Spotlight: Skin Deep this Sunday at 8:45 p.m. after The Voice on Channel 7 and 7plus