A BRAVE Crewe teenager is battling a rare form of skin cancer while maintaining a promising career in football.
18-year-old Ollie Dean from Leighton suffers from Gorlin Syndrome, which can cause visible skin tumours and painful jaw cysts to the one in 30,000 people it affects in the UK.
But the former South Cheshire College and St Thomas More High School pupil has not let the condition hold him back.
He is about to begin the second year of a futsal scholarship with Crewe Alexandra FC, while taking professional qualifications to facilitate his dream career in football coaching.
“I was diagnosed with it when I was four. I’ve had it for fourteen years and I’ve never known anything different really. It’s just something you get used to,” said Ollie.
“The Alex are very understanding and aware of it, and all the lads I play with are really sound.”
One effect of Gorlin Syndrome is jaw cysts – swellings in the jaw that Ollie has to have removed when they occur, sometimes needing teeth to be removed.
“I have to go to quite a few hospital appointments right across England. Mainly trips to Christies, Alder Hey and Manchester Royal Infirmary.
“Most of the time I feel ok, but when I get told that I need another operation I feel pretty down.
“Nobody really knows what you’re going through. I have to have massive chunks taken out and you can be in pain for up to a month.
“We have a support group for it. I talk to people in there if I need to know anything, and my family are really supportive,” said Ollie, whose Mum Sonia, sister Jasmin and younger brothers Ryan and Alfie help him through.
This month, Gorlin Syndrome Group has presented a survey to the European Association of Dermato Oncology Congress, revealing that 48 per cent of Gorlin’s patients endure more than 20 surgical procedures - but only 15 per cent are offered counselling throughout diagnosis and treatment.
They’re calling for more emotional support to be made available to people like Ollie.
Dr John Lear, consultant dermatologist, Central Manchester University Hospitals and lead study author, said: “This condition has a profound impact on patients’ physical and emotional wellbeing, often causing hundreds of skin tumours across a person’s lifetime.
“More support is needed to provide the treatment these people need. It is simply not enough to treat the physical symptoms alone.”
To find out more, visit www.gorlingroup.org