Tawny Willoughby started using tanning beds in high school, and would tan at least four to five times a week. Now, she is using her skin cancer as a grave warning for current tanners to cogitate.
The 27-year-old former tanning addict was diagnosed with skin cancer six years ago. And she recently posted a photo of her painful scars and blisters on Facebook as a way of trying to deter people from repeating her mistakes.
In addition to the photo, Tawny wrote the following. “If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here you go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like.”
“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.
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, non melanoma-disfigures (and can also kill).
Don’t be a statistic!”
The picture has been shared over 50,000 times on Facebook, with many users applauding Tawny’s bravery and finding inspiration in her post.
“Proud of you for posting this! You’re such a brave and strong woman. You made it and it’s going to only get better for you starting now! You’re in my prayers daily. Love you,” one friend wrote in support.
Another commented, “Thank you for sharing! So many girls need to see this picture and stop while they still have time! We were not that fortunate! Prayers for you Tawny Willoughby!”
Since her diagnosis, the Alabama nurse is said to have had basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once. And, according to the Mirror, every 6 to 12 months, she visits the dermatologist and “usually has a skin cancer removed at each checkup.”
Willoughby, who has a young son, said she frequented the tanning bed because her “tan faded very fast.”
According to previous research, tanning is especially hazardous to young people, and those who use tanning beds before the age of 30 actually increase their lifetime risk of melanoma by 75 percent.
The study also found a link between UV radiation from indoor tanning devices and melanomas of the skin and eyes.
Melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, is just one of several deadly possibilities – as people who use tanning beds, like Tawny did, “are 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma.”
Willoughby’s picture was ultimately reported on Facebook for “graphic violence,” despite thousands of users applauding her bravery and encouragement. But, the social media site didn’t give in this time, and the photo remains, and continues to be shared.
[Image via Redbook/Facebook]