The Skin Cancer Selfie Seen Around the World

Cynthia Bailey, MD|May 21, 2015

Skin Cancer Selfie Though doctors have been voicing warnings related to tanning beds for some time, people still seen to be drawn to them, especially as summer approaches. People think that they can just go a few times before a big event, then another event comes along and another and another. Before long, the habit is formed. Do you use tanning booths? According to the Melanoma Foundation, 2.5 million teens use tanning booths each year. This number is both astounding and scary since it's in these formative years that these habits become addicting. If you're on any form of social media or if you watch the news, you've probably seen this selfie that has gone viral showcasing the dangers of skin cancer. Tawny Willoughby said she thought she was "invincible" when she started using the tanning bed in her teens. Turns out, she wasn't. And now, at 27, after fighting skin cancer 6 different times, she's letting the world know just how dangerous tanning beds can be. It is so very brave and generous of Ms. Willoughby to share a selfie of her skin cancer treatment.  For anyone that wants to believe tanning - in a bed or in the sun - is safe, her selfie is a reality check. Her photos show her being treated with a cream called Aldara that helps the body’s immune system find and destroy cancer cells on the skin. These sores show the extent of the cancer cells on her face. These cells are there because of tanning. What people need to understand is that cancer cells from tanning can lay dormant and invisible for years and Aldara ‘lights them up’ when the immune system attacks them.  You can see the extent of hidden cancer cells on her facial skin – it’s a real "eye opener" for tanners. These cancer areas would have slowly grown into cancers over the years, and you can see how many surgeries she might have needed to remove the tumors. It’s quite dramatic and really  wonderful of Ms. Willoughby to share this with people during Skin Cancer Awareness Month. Hopefully, her openness will prevent millions of people from tanning this summer.

Add Your Comment