LIFESTYLE

Tanning Addict Scarred After Tumour Removed - She Used A Sunbed Everyday For Three Years

04/02/2014 13:54 GMT | Updated 04/02/2014 14:59 GMT

A tanning addict who fried herself on a sunbed every day for three years was left with a scar running from her eye to her mouth, after a cancerous tumour grew on her face.

Anna Taylor, 33, would spend an hour each night - six nights a week - under the tanning bulbs in her spare room in a bid to keep a year-round tan.

After more than 900 hours tanning her skin she gave up the habit in favour of fake tan lotion and kept out of the sun to avoid wrinkles.

tumour

But the damage was sadly already done and in January last year doctors discovered that a tiny spot on her face was cancerous.

Surgeons were forced to cut a chunk out of her cheek leaving Anna needing 29 stitches with a huge scar from her eye to her mouth.

Anna, from Worthing, West Sussex, said: "I was confident about my looks before my surgery.

"Now, at 33, and with a lifelong scar stretching most of the way down my face, I am reminded daily that my vanity backfired.

"The scar will fade slightly but I will always be left with a mark.

"I am desperate to get the message to young girls, teens and even ladies my own age that sunbeds are simply not worth the risk - I know that now."

cancer tumour

Radio presenter Anna first hired a sunbed for two weeks ahead of a holiday to Ibiza with her big sister Katie when she was just 18.

She then spotted one in the classifieds section of her local newspaper for #50 and snapped it up, spending half an hour on each side every night except Sunday.

Single Anna gave up the sunbed in her early 20s - but unbeknown to her, the damage was already done.

She first spotted a tiny spot on her left cheek near her nose in 2010 but dismissed it after a doctor said it was nothing more than a little scar.

But the blemish grew and after two people commented on it she went to see another doctor in January last year.

Signs Of Skin Cancer

After a quick look with a magnifying glass, he announced it was a skin cancer called basal cell carcinoma - caused by exposure to UV rays.

Anna said: "I felt sick, absolutely sick.

"They kept saying to me you must sunbathe, but I don't - I'm very vain and I don't like my freckles and I don't want wrinkles.

"They kept saying it was very rare for someone my age to have this and that certainly didn't make me feel any better.

"It was only when the fifth or sixth person said about the sunbathing that I suddenly remembered about the sunbeds.

"I loved the feeling of the warmth on my face and it made me feel healthy.

"I think I just felt at the time it wasn't doing any harm because it wasn't the sun, which of course is stupid."

Surgeons at Royal Alexandra Hospital in Sussex cut out the tumour - about the size of a 5p - and the surrounding tissue in two 30 minute operations in June.

Anna, who was only under local anaesthetic, said: "I could see them there, peering down at me as the cut it away, and I could smell the flesh burning as they stopped the bleeding.

"It was horrid - really, really horrible.

"It felt like it was massive on my face and they were just cutting and cutting.

"There were times when it felt like it was really brutal as they were cutting the roots out and I was left with a lot of bruising.

"When I finally took a peak under the bandages it was awful.

"I looked like something out of a horror movie - it truly looked like special effects make up."

Two days later surgeons patched up the gaping hole in her face by stretching the surrounding skin.

But they had to slice her face from just below her eye to her mouth, to give them enough skin to create a flat scar and avoid puckering.

Anna said: "It was horrible. The shallow side of me thought I looked horrible and I'm single and nobody in their right mind is going to want to date someone like that.

"I thought this is going to kill my confidence and I'm not going to be able to do anything."

But brave Anna is coming to terms with her lifelong scar and wants to persuade tanning addicts to ditch the harmful habit.

She said: "There is no point and no excuse for going on sun beds, especially with all the self-tan products out there now.

"I know first hand how damaging it can be.

"I feel fine 90 per cent of the time and it is amazing how you can just forget about it, but it is always going to be there."