Tawny Willoughby, a 27-year-old mom who used to go tanning 4 to 5 times a week in high school, shared a graphic photo of her skin cancer treatment on Facebook as a stark reminder to take proper care of your skin.
Multiple bouts of skin cancer have Willoughby visiting the dermatologist every 6 to 12 months to care for the blisters and scars on her nose, cheeks, forehead and upper lip.
Her photo comes with a warning:
“Skin cancer is not always moles, only one of mine have mind 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 enough to metastasize…Don’t be a statistic!”
According to CDC data, skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. The most recent data available found that 9,128 people died from melanomas of the skin and 65,647 were diagnosed with melanoma of the skin. (Those statistics alone should remind you why it’s essential to wear sunscreen anytime you go outside!)
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And if sunbathing is on the agenda these next few months, remember this: the CDC completely debunked the myth of the base tan, or a light layer of tan to protect your skin. The CDC warns “a base tan is not a safe tan” and even a base tan means your body has gotten color due to “the body’s response to injury from UV rays. A base tan does little to protect you from future damage to your skin caused by UV exposure. In fact, people who indoor tan are more likely to report getting sunburned.”
In 2011, 21% of all high school girls were “fake baking” their skin with indoor tanning, according to data from the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System. But if Willoughby’s viral photo is any indication, that number could shrink as people begin to understand the implications of their behavior. For too many people, though, by the time they understand the consequences of damaging your skin, it’s already too late.
READ MORE: This Woman Has Had Skin Cancer 77 Times