Woman shares skin cancer selfie to highlight risks of tanning
Tawny Willoughby posted a selfie on Facebook to show people the potential damage that comes with skin cancer treatment from using tanning beds. The selfie has been shared almost 60,000 times. (Tawny Willoughby / Facebook)
Amy Legate-Wolfe, CTVNews.ca
Published Wednesday, May 13, 2015 2:32PM EDT
A selfie taken by a U.S. woman with skin cancer has gone viral after the image was posted to Facebook and shared almost 60,000 times.
Tawny Willoughby posted a photo of herself after undergoing a round of skin cancer treatment. The 27-year-old said she shared the photo to spread awareness of the risks associated with tanning beds.
In the Facebook post, shared at the end of April, Willoughby said she used tanning beds four or five times a week, mainly during her high-school years. Her first skin cancer diagnosis came when she was 21.
Since then she writes that she has had basal cell carcinoma five times – the most common type of skin cancer -- and squamous cell carcinoma once, which can develop into scars from sun burns.
She sees the dermatologist every six to 12 months and continues to get skin cancer removed almost every visit.
Willoughby is grateful she hasn't been diagnosed with melanoma, she said in the post, and warns people that they don't want to be prevented from seeing their children grow up."That's my biggest fear now that I have a two-year-old little boy of my own."
The Canadian Cancer Society estimated that 6,500 Canadians were diagnosed with melanoma in 2014, with 1,050 people dying because of it.
All of the provinces have introduced legislation to ban the use of indoor tanning beds for people under the age of 18, with Alberta and Saskatchewan both tabling the proposed laws this past March.
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the risks of sunbeds include developing both deadly and non-deadly forms of skin cancer, skin aging and eye damage. The global health body suggests people of all ages should stop using the beds.
Willoughby hopes that others won't have to go through the pain and worry she's endured. She asks people to have any suspicious marks checked out, and to always wear sunscreen. If someone really wants to look bronzed in a hurry, she recommends trying spray tanning.
"You only get one skin," she said, "and you should take care of it."