Hoping to shock people into taking the damaging effects of the sun seriously, a 27-year-old woman posted graphic photos of her painful battle with skin cancer online.
“If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!” wrote Tawny Willoughby in a Facebook post. “Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up.”
Willoughby, now a 27-year-old mother, received the terrifying diagnosis at age 21, she wrote. She said she averaged 4-5 trips a week to the tanning bed in high school.
Though she’s thankful to have never experienced melanoma, she’s had plenty of other kinds of cancer, she explained. She has battled with squamous cell carcinoma and basal cell carcinoma, both types of skin cancer that can cause disfiguration like the one shown in her photo.
“I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup,” she wrote.
Willoughby hopes her post — now viral with tens of thousands of shares — will demonstrate the dangers of too much tanning and promote safe skin care. May is Skin Cancer Awareness Month.
The Skin Cancer Foundation released advice to keep in mind, especially as summer approaches.
- Seek the shade, especially between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
- Do not burn.
- Avoid tanning and never use UV tanning beds.
- Cover up with clothing, including a broad-brimmed hat and UV-blocking sunglasses.
- Use a broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 15 or higher every day. For extended outdoor activity, use a water-resistant, broad spectrum (UVA/UVB) sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher.
- Apply 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) of sunscreen to your entire body 30 minutes before going outside. Reapply every two hours or immediately after swimming or excessive sweating.
- Keep newborns out of the sun. Sunscreens should be used on babies over the age of six months.
- Examine your skin head-to-toe every month.
- See your physician every year for a professional skin exam.