A woman from Alabama posted a selfie on social media in an attempt to warn people about an ongoing trend. It nearly ended her life, but she hopes that her story will help save others from making the same mistake.
The self-proclaimed “tanning addict,” Tawny Willoughby, posted a horrifying photo of her skin after a cancer treatment in an attempt to warn others of the dangers that come along with tanning beds.
Willoughby was diagnosed with skin cancer six years ago, when she was only 21-years-old, after regularly using tanning beds five times a week for many years. She has now posted the image of her painful scars and burns that cover most of her face to help persuade avid tanning bed users to rid themselves of the cancer-causing habit.
The horrifying picture was posted on her personal Facebook page and has already been shared over 105,000 times. “If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like,” her post began.
Tawny Willoughby after a cancer treatment
Willoughby has to visit a dermatologist every six to twelve months, according to ITV News. Her treatment includes a special cream and the use of liquid nitrogen to freeze her cancer spots.
Her advice is simple: Don’t Tan. “Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear now that I have a two-year-old little boy of my own,” Willoughby said.
In response to questions and concerns, she said, “To answer a few questions and comments I’ve seen, I did the bulk of my tanning in high school. I sometimes laid up to 4 times a week (I laid frequently because my tan faded very fast). I never laid in the tanning bed and in the sun in the same day. I never laid in the tanning bed twice in one day. I had my first skin cancer diagnosis at 21. Now, at 27, I’ve had basal cell carcinoma 5 times and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face). I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I’m very thankful to not have had melanoma!”
She continued, “Skin cancer is not always moles, only one of mine have been a mole. Get any suspicious, new and growing spot checked out. Anything that doesn’t heal, possibly bleeds on and off and crusts. The sooner you find it the less likely it will leave a disfiguring scar or grow deep enough to metastasize. Melanoma kills, nonmelanoma-disfigures (and can also kill). Don’t be a statistic!”
In response to her critics, she said, “I see a lot of comments regarding the frequency of my tanning. Please do not allow that to help you justify your tanning. I laid up to four times a week. Yes, that is excessive. Keep in mind that was not my typical frequency. I did that when I had an event coming up which I wanted to be tan for (homecoming, prom, vacation…). Most of the time I tanned 1-2 times per week. There were weeks I didn’t tan at all. This intention of the post is to help people. Please do not belittle me or my message to justify your own actions.”
We all know that too much exposure to the sun can cause skin cancer, yet many people excuse being in the sun for “tanning.” It’s better to take Willoughby’s advice and always protect yourself – we only have one life, let’s not choose to shorten it for vanity.