This story is particularly interesting to me as a fair-skinned, red-headed person. But hey, guess what? It should be interesting to you too. It should be interesting to everyone no matter what their skin tone or hair color. Because skin cancer can hurt and possibly kill you regardless. Yes, fair-skinned people do have an increased risk, but most know that risk and wear sun screen. I learned at a very early age that I cannot play in the sun. And at the end of the day I will have a very painful sunburn if I do not wear sunscreen. But as you will see from this story, those that can and do, often will end up paying for it in the end. Some with their lives. The question I ask is, is it worth it?
This is Tawny Willoughby. When she was 21, she was first diagnosed with skin cancer.
Willoughby said that she used to do indoor tanning a lot in high school, “I probably laid an average of 4-5 times a week.” She even had her own tanning bed in her home.
Willoughby is a registered nurse in Alabama. After one of her classmates in nursing school was diagnosed with melanoma, Willoughby made her first dermatology appointment. She says she has been diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma five times, and squamous cell carcinoma once. She wrote on Facebook that she goes to the dermatologist every 6 to 12 months, and she usually has skin cancer removed at each checkup.
In April, Willoughby was undergoing a round of skin cancer treatment. She made the decision to share this selfie on Facebook to warn people about the dangers of tanning beds.
Someone actually reported her picture for being too graphic. Her reply to her picture being reported was, “Well, it only took 10,716 shares for my photo to be reported. If I knew who reported it, I would give them a major side eye, and the finger lol.”
Now 27, she is the mother of a 2-year-old.
She writes that the issue of tanning is even more serious to her now, “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.”
The World Health Organization recently added ultraviolet (UV) radiation-emitting tanning devices, like tanning beds and lamps, to the list of the most dangerous forms of cancer-causing radiation. People who use tanning beds under the age of 30 increase their risk of melanoma by 75%. They’re also 2.5 times more likely to develop squamous cell carcinoma and 1.5 times more likely to develop basal cell carcinoma (other forms of skin cancer). Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer, but the other cancers can kill also.
Here are some great tips to help keep your skin healthy.
1. Don’t use tanning beds. If you currently use them, stop.
2. Wear a hat and cover-up clothing when you’re going to be in the sun to protect yourself as much as possible. And apply broad-spectrum sunscreen the right way — 15 minutes before you’re planning to be in the sun. Reapply according to what it says on the bottle.
3. Pay attention to what your skin looks like, and keep an eye on anything new or suspicious that comes up. That includes moles (which most people know about), but it doesn’t HAVE to be moles. In fact, Willoughby says that only one of her skin cancers was from a mole. She writes: “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!”
4. Talk to your doctor about how often you need to get a full-body skin check.
Spray tans and self tanning have come a long way if you feel like you need to look tan. In my opinion, and this might be because I have no options, there is nothing wrong with having the skin color you were born with. Maybe it’s okay for us all to be ourselves.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.