One woman was proud to have a heart-shaped freckle in her forehead. She was shocked to learn that it was skin cancer.

KayIa Mailer (a stage manager, secretary, and musician from Portland, Oregon) had a small freckle on her left side since the age 12. It grew into an ideal heart shape over the next 15 years.

However, her unique beauty mark which was often complimented by people and believed to be a tattoo turned darker and began to lose its distinct shape at the age of 27.

Kayla visited her dermatologist and had the freckle removed for a biopsy.

Three days later, Kayla (now 32) was told the shocking news that she had melanoma. 

KayIa Mailer, now 32, was proud of her 'super-cute' heart-shaped freckle - pictured here before surgery. She noticed it changing color and shape when she was 27, and visited her doctor

KayIa Mailer (now 32) was proud to show off her “super-cute” heart-shaped freckle. When she was 27 years old, she saw her doctor to see if it had changed in shape and color.

When the stage manager and secretary had the mark biopsied, she was told it was an aggressive form of cancer - and had it removed surgically

When the stage manager and secretary had the mark biopsied, she was told it was an aggressive form of cancer – and had it removed surgically

Kayla, pictured after surgery, said her skin was 'filleted off' layer-by-layer during the surgical procedure

Kayla after her surgery: Kayla said that she had ‘filledeted’ her skin layer-by-layer.

They ‘filled her’ her skin, layer by layer. She was left with a large pepperoni-sized slit in her forehead.

Kayla had plastic surgery done on her face after tests showed that there wasn’t any more cancer.

Kayla has been declared cancer free and is now sharing her experience to remind people to apply sunscreen every day.

Kayla stated, “If it hadn’t been removed, I would not have lived to be 28.”

“I didn’t tan much before my diagnosis. But when I was growing up, I ran around Alabama with no sunscreen or not applying it every two hours. 

Kayla says there was a pepperoni-sized hole on her cheek after surgery to treat her skin cancer

Kayla said that she felt a small pepperoni-sized nick on her cheek from her surgery to remove her skin cancer.

Pictured here after surgery, Kayla says she would have died aged 28, after discovering the cancer at 27, if she hadn't undergone the operation

Kayla underwent a Mohs procedure - a precise surgical technique used to treat skin cancer - which was a success

Kayla, after the surgery after which she was photographed here. Kayla believes she would be dead at 28 if she had not been diagnosed with cancer aged 27.

After doctors confirmed the cancer was gone, Kayla had plastic surgery to close the gaping wound in her face, turning the circular hole into a straight line

Kayla received confirmation that her cancer had gone. Kayla went to plastic surgery and closed the gaping hole in her nose. The procedure made the circle into a straight one.

“When my dermatologist told me I had very aggressive melanoma, it was just as I was about getting ready for a 12 hour night shift in jail.

I sobbed in my toilet and [from then on]I was constantly worried about my death.

Kayla has had the freckle ever since she was 12 years old. Over the years, it formed an ideal heart shape that many people have complimented on.

When she began to notice changes in the skin’s shape and color, she made an appointment to see a dermatologist on November 13th 2017 to have it examined.

Kayla shared the following: “From sixth grade, I had a mole and right beneath it was a flat freckle.

“Over the years, that freckle became larger and more noticeable until it was a cute heart-shaped shape by 26. 

Kayla had surgery on December 4, 2017, to remove the cancer. Two days later (pictured) she headed into surgery again - this time to have a cosmetic op to close the wound

Kayla went under anesthesia on December 4, 2017 to get rid of the cancer. She returned to surgery two days later, (pictured), to undergo a cosmetic operation to close her wound.

Pictured here after the plastic surgery procedure, Kayla says she had a 'railroad of stitches in [her] face'

Kayla, after her plastic surgery, is shown here. [her] face’

The cancer survivor says her mother Millie Mailer (pictured here, as the pair travel to a hospital appointment) never left her side throughout the treatment

According to the cancer survivor, Millie Mailer, her mother (pictured as they travel to the hospital) has never been by her side during the entire treatment.

“The gradual transformation into a human heart took about fifteen years, with small adjustments, before it became this distinctive marking.

However, at 27 my heart was beginning to slowly change.

“It changed from a dark chocolate brown to a brown-black color, and its heart lost some of it’s shape.

“I visited my doctor and was referred to Yakima’s dermatologist. [Washington]. 

“The doctor looked at it, and found that it was “definitely suspicious”.

“He stated that he could do a scrape test for me if I asked, but warned it would take out the whole mark.

“I was struck by the cuteness of my heart-shaped freckle. People kept asking me about it, and I was even complimented on it.

I agreed to scrape for the possibility that it might be more sinister. However, the outcome was quick enough to concern me.

While she didn't regularly suntan, Kayla (pictured pre-surgery), who grew up in Alabama, says she didn't apply sunscreen enough as a child

Kayla was not a regular sunbathing patient, but she (pictured before surgery) grew up in Alabama and didn’t use sunscreen enough.

The 32-year-old, shown here aged 27, as her freckle started to change shape and color,  advises people to get any 'suspicious' health issues checked by a professional

The 32-year-old, shown here aged 27, as her freckle started to change shape and color,  advises people to get any ‘suspicious’ health issues checked by a professional

Kayla, pictured here in April 2021, is urging people to always wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours

Kayla, pictured here in April 2021, is urging people to always wear sunscreen and reapply every two hours

Now, several years after her 2017 surgeries to remove the cancer and close the wound, Kayla's scar has faded

Kayla has seen her scare fade several years later, after her 2017 surgery to close the incision and remove the cancer.

“He used a tiny razor to take off color from my skin, then numbed it. Then he sent the results to the lab.”


Melanoma, a form of skin cancer, can spread to other areas in the body. Melanoma can be characterized by the development of new or altered moles.

It can occur anywhere, but it is most common in the back and legs of men and women.

Melanomas are usually irregular in shape, and may have more than one color. Sometimes, the mole might be more large than usual and itchy. You should be on the lookout for moles that change in size, shape or color.

Most cases of melanoma are gone after it has been treated. Most patients (80-90%) receive a one to five-year monitoring and then are released with no additional problems.

Source: NHS 

Kayla was devastated to learn that her freckle had turned cancerous three days later on November 16.

Kayla explained that Kayla was getting ready for the night shift at 5.10pm, when the dermatologist phoned.

“He explained to me that he wanted to make an appointment to review the results and that it could not wait.

“He said that I was suffering from a highly aggressive form of melanoma. He had me scheduled for my first appointment at the Seattle surgery center and advised that I would need to have plastic surgery as well.

“I wept when he said it to me.”

Kayla Mailer, along with her mother Millie Mailer, went to the dermatologist to be told that she would have a Mohs operation – an exact surgical procedure used to treat skin carcinomas.

Kayla underwent an operation on December 4, where the surgeon carefully removed each layer of the cancerous tissue, and then sent the material off to be tested.

Kayla stated: “At my appointment, they put me in a chair much like a dentist’s chair and then retracted me back.

“They began cleaning the area then began injecting some stuff on my cheeks to make them numb. Finally, they cut a circular around the cancer in my cheeks.

“As they were doing it, I could feel it near my nose. Then they removed it.” [the tissue]Take it off of my face.

It’s amazing to see your skin get filled.

“I could see the yellow fat layer that had been added to it. It left a large, gaping hole in my forehead that looked and felt like a pepperoni.

Pictured here aged 16-years-old, not long after the freckle first appeared on her cheek. It transformed into a perfect heart shape over the next 15 years

This picture was taken at 16 years old, shortly after her freckles first appeared. The freckle grew into the perfect shape of a heart over the following 15 years.

Kayla aged 17 - the freckle was still a small, circular shape, very different to the larger, heart-shaped mark that would develop

Kayla, 17 years old – The freckle still had a small circular shape. It was very distinct from the more heart-shaped marking that Kayla would acquire.

Shown after having the freckle removed, and surviving cancer, Kayla wants people to 'live a life you love, and love the life you live'

Kayla, who had her freckles removed and survived cancer, wants everyone to “live a life they love and enjoy the lives that you lead.”

“They proceeded then to cauterize my wound and wrap me in a massive bandage, while I waited to see the results.

The next day [December 5]Kayla received the good news that the entire melanoma was removed. She was scheduled to undergo plastic surgery on December 6 to close her wound.

Kayla stated, “I was pre-selected for surgery and I saw the results. The next thing I know I had a train of stitches on my face.

“Mom was sleeping on my side. A true angel. Even though she was exhausted, she didn’t leave me side.

Kayla reported that after three years, she still has skin check every six months. As a precaution, two freckles have been removed from her neck, right arm, and back.

She is now urging everyone to use sunscreen every day and to reapply at least once per hour.

Kayla shared the following: “I recommend that people wear sunscreen, and reapply every 2 hours.

“Get any suspicious items checked out by professionals. Living a life that you love and enjoying the moments you have are key to happiness. 

The most prevalent form of cancer in America: How do you spot it?

In the United States, skin cancer is the most prevalent form.

According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, more than 9500 Americans are affected by the disease each day. More than 2 people die from it every hour. 

There are various types of skin carcinoma. Basal cell carcinoma, the most common, is the most fatal. Melanoma, the most serious, spreads to other parts of your body. 

With all forms of skin cancer, early detection is key to ensuring successful treatment and experts recommend that adults check their own skin once a month and get their skin checked by a medical professional regularly to ensure that any potentially-dangerous moles or lesions are found and tested as soon as possible. 


You can look for signs such as a mole, or mark on the skin that might indicate melanoma. The ‘ABCDE Rule’ is a way to check your skin. It highlights important characteristics you should be aware of: 

  • InconsistencyThis is a guideline: A mole or birthmark that looks differently from an area in another part of the mark should be reported. 
  • The BorderThe edges of moles should be irregularly shaped, blurred or notched. 
  • ColourColor variations: The color may appear different on the surface or in various shades of brown, black. Rarely, it might also be pink, red or white. 
  • DiameterMoles or marks larger than 1/4″ in diameter are considered to be a mole.
  • The Evolution– If the marking is in a state of change (in size, shape or color) 

Indicators for other forms of cancer include: 

  • Similar to scarring, flat, firm areas in pale, yellow or white.
  • Itchy reddish spots that have been raised
  • These tiny, transparent, shiny, pearly bumps are either pink or red, and may have blue, brown,, or black areas.
  • A pink growth with raised edges or a smaller area at the center may have abnormal blood vessels. These could be likened to spokes on a wheel.
  • Open sores (that may have oozing or crusted areas) and which don’t heal, or heal and then come back 


The treatment of skin cancer depends on how severe it is and what type of cancer has been diagnosed. 

The most prevalent forms of skin cancer are: 

  • Use liquid nitrogen to freeze the skin. This is a very effective treatment for small and early-stage skin cancers.
  • Excisional Surgery: This is the most popular form of cancer treatment. A doctor will remove the tumorous tissue and a margin of skin excess to make sure that the entire body has been freed from the disease. 
  • Mohs Surgery: Mohs surgery is for the more difficult-to-treat forms of skin cancers. It is also used to treat skin conditions that are not easily treated. The doctor will carefully remove layers of skin, and then scrape off any cancerous cells. 

Sometimes, chemotherapy or radiation may be recommended for patients to stop the spread of cancerous cells from growing.

Sources:, Skin Cancer Foundation