This Frequent Tanner Reveals The Dark Side of Tanning
Before prom, winter formal, Spring Break, or any vacation, many of us are rushing to the tanning bed. Partners who don’t know what to buy for anniversaries and birthdays often buy us tanning minutes, knowing it’s a pesent that will be well received. We spend hundreds of dollars and hours of time trying to achieve the “perfect” color that is so much better than the one we were born with, or that is what many of us think.
Doctors have warned us for decades about the dangers of tanning beds, often our parents, aunts, and other loved ones will warn us, because they love us, and they worry, and they read an article from a respected dermatologist that tanning beds may cause skin cancer. We may respond with a thank you, I use sunscreen, it’s safer than laying out on foil blankets like you all did in the 80’s, etc., and we rush to the nearest tanning bed to get that base tan before our trip to the Caribbean, we want a nice glow with that new sundress!
Enter Tawny Willoughby, a young woman who was a frequent tanning bed patron in her teens, and was first diagnosed with skin cancer at 21. She has bravely posted selfies of her face at its blistered and vulnerable most fragile self, hoping to stop at least one young person from following in her footsteps.
She posted that she was in the tanning bed or laying out 4-5 times a week, as her natural light skin faded quickly. She thought she was safe, she only went the recommended number of minutes each day, never more than once in a day, and if she was in the sun she avoided the tanning bed, not good enough.
She visits her dermatologist 1-2 times a year, having some sort of skin cancer removed each time. She listed having basal cell carcinoma 5 times, and squamous cell carcinoma once, one time only there was a mole, she urges everyone to get every unusual sore checked right away, especially ones that do not heal and form a crust. She has not, thus far, suffered from melanoma, which can kill. Non-melanoma can disfigure your face permanently, and also kill you. Stay out of the sun, wear sunscreen, if you feel a need to have a golden glow get a spray tan.
The usual treatments for skin cancer, and the ones Tawny has had, include freezing, surgical removal of spots, curettage and electrodessication, and prescription creams like Aldara. Depending on the degree of damage there is also radiation therapy.
She now has a little boy and wants to be there for all of his important life moments. Cancer is a scary event in anyone’s life, at such a young age it changes everything. She hopes to make everyone think twice before getting into a tanning bed.
For any suspicious spots see your healthcare professional, who will recommened you to a dermatologist, where you will probably have a biopsy and go on as needed. To quote this young lady, “You only get one skin and you should take care of it.”
Photos from T. Willoughby’s personal Facebook page