Tawny Willoughby
Tawny Willoughby

Skin cancer selfie goes viral, warns of sunbed danger

A MOTHER and nurse in the US has received praise from social media users around the world after she shared a shocking image showing her skin cancer treatment to warn others of the dangers of using sunbeds.

Tawny Willoughby, from Alabama, posted the picture to Facebook and said: "If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!"

The "skin cancer selfie" shows Ms Willoughby during a treatment using an imiquimod cream to tackle the most common form of skin cancer, basal cell carcinoma (BCC).

It has been shared more than 55,000 times, and the 27-year-old nurse said she "can't believe how many people it has touched".

Writing on Facebook, she explained that like most of her friends she grew up with a tanning bed in her own home, and during high school used it an average of four or five times a week.

She said she had her first skin cancer diagnosis at the age of 21, and in the six years since has had BCC five times and squamous cell carcinoma once.

Tawny Willoughby
Tawny Willoughby Image from Facebook

Every six months to a year she visits the dermatologist and "usually has a skin cancer removed at each check-up", but she added that she was thankful never to have had a melanoma - a type of skin cancer that can spread to other organs in the body.

"This is what skin cancer treatment can look like," she said. "Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it. Learn from other people's mistakes.

"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."

Ms Willoughby said that since the image went viral she had been contacted by lots of people saying they would never use a sunbed again - and even some people from her town who were going to get rid of their home tanning equipment for good.

"Thank you ALL so much for sharing my post," she said. "I truly hoped to change at least one person's view on tanning/skincare/sunscreen."


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