LIFESTYLE

Woman Uses Graphic Skin Cancer Selfie To Raise Awareness Of Sunbed Dangers

13/05/2015 13:22 BST | Updated 13/05/2015 13:59 BST

Warning: Graphic Images

A woman who used sunbeds up to five times a week has posted a graphic selfie of her skin cancer on Facebook, in a desperate bid to warn others of the dangers.

Tawny Willoughby, a nurse from Kentucky, shared the shocking image on 25 April.

It has since been shared over 55,000 times, with many people praising her bravery and saying that the image made them think twice about using sunbeds.

The skin cancer selfie shows sore-looking blisters and redness all over Willoughby's face.

"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," she wrote.

The 27-year-old warned against using sunbeds with a stark message: "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."

There are two types of skin cancer: non-melanoma skin cancer and malignant melanoma. According to Cancer Research UK, the latter is less common, but more deadly.

Willoughby revealed that since her first diagnosis, she has had basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once - both are subtypes of non-melanoma skin cancer.

In the UK, around 102,000 cases of non-melanoma skin cancer were registered in 2011, according to Cancer Research UK.

Meanwhile in 2012, it was responsible for 640 deaths.

If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment...

Posted by Tawny Willoughby on Saturday, April 25, 2015

The mum-of-one explained that she started using sunbeds regularly at high school, between 4-5 times a week. She even had her own personal tanning bed at home.

She revealed to CNN: "I didn't really even think about the future or skin cancer at the time."

When she was 21, she was diagnosed with skin cancer. Since then, she has undergone various treatments including: "Curettage and Electrodessication, Cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), Surgical Excision and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT)."

Doctors also treated her with a cream called Aldara.

"I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup," she wrote on Facebook. "I'm very thankful to not have had melanoma!"

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She added that skin cancer is not always found in moles ("only one of mine has been a mole") and highlighted the importance of getting any new, growing and suspicious-looking spots checked out - particularly anything that doesn't heal, possibly bleeds on-and-off or "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!"

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Signs Of Skin Cancer

Willoughby has since revealed that she "can't believe how many people it has touched".

Despite somebody reporting the image to Facebook, the overall response has been incredibly positive with many people getting in touch to tell her they'll never use a sunbed again.

Some people even added that they would get rid of their home tanning equipment for good.

The nurse also offered her two cents for those who want to tan safely: "Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan."

"You only get one skin," she added. "You should take care of it."

tawny

[H/T Independent]