Skin Cancer Selfie

One woman’s selfie of what skin cancer treatment looks like has gone viral and warns people of the danger of tanning.

Emmy Walker, Columnist

Tawny Willoughby was 21 years old when she was diagnosed with skin cancer. Now, she is 27 years old and is sharing her story with the world to teach others about the danger of tanning. As a teenager, Willoughby used to go to tanning beds four to five times a week. Now, she is suffering the consequences of these choices. She goes to the dermatologist every six to twelve months for her checkup and usually gets a cancerous spot removed each time.

Willoughby recently posted a selfie of her skin on Facebook to warn others about the potential dangers of tanning. This picture shows large red spots and scabs covering the majority of her face. The photo has gone viral and is making people think twice before laying out in the sun or going to a tanning bed. The young mother writes, “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.”

Although a few people have tried to report the picture for being “disturbing,” Facebook hasn’t removed it. Sometimes seeing things that are “disturbing” is the only way for us to learn. We need to realize that using a tanning bed increases the risk of getting melanoma, the deadliest skin cancer, by 75%. Also, there is no such thing as a “good tan.” The moment that your skin begins darkening is a sign that your skin has already been damaged.

Suddenly that sun-kissed glow doesn’t seem so great, does it? As long as you are cautious, there should be nothing to worry about. Wearing sunscreen or a hat, limiting time spent in the sun, and getting checked by a dermatologist regularly are all ways to prevent skin cancer.  Taking these precautionary steps is especially important right now in Arizona as summer is quickly approaching.