'This is what skin cancer can look like' - mum posts skin cancer selfie to Facebook
Published 13/05/2015 | 17:45
A 'skin cancer' selfie posted by a mum in a bid to urge people not to use sunbeds has gone viral.
Tawny Willoughby, from Kentucky in the US, posted the selfie to her Facebook account in a bid to increase awareness of skin cancer and it's causes.
Tawny claims her cancer is from frequent use of sunbeds from when she was a teenager.
Now a mother to a young son, she is urging people everywhere to ditch the sunbeds or put themselves at risk.
The 27-year-old mum-of-one was first diagnosed with with basal cell carcinoma - or skin cancer - at the age of 21 and has undergone treatment since. Tawny said she has been diagnosed with the condition five times.
As part of her ongoing treatment, she visits a dermatologist every six months. Usually, a cancerous piece of skin is removed during these treatments.
Last month, Tawny decided to post a 'skin cancer' selfie to her Facebook page as "motivation" for people to stop using sun beds.
Under the picture - which shows her face covered in painful bloody blisters and scabs - she wrote: "If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!
"This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. 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."
Her picture and original post was shared some 50,000 times - but this is expected to increase.
Tawny told people she used sunbeds regularly as a teenager - and used them often as her tan tended to fade quickly.
In a further post, the young mum added: "I did the bulk of my tanning in high school. I probably laid an average of 4-5 times a week (I laid frequently because my tan faded very fast).
"I never laid in the tanning bed and in the sun in the same day. I never laid in the tanning bed twice in one day. I had my first skin cancer diagnosis at 21.
"Now, at 27, I've had basal cell carcinoma 5 times and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face).
"I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I'm very thankful to not have had melanoma," she said.
She also told people that skin cancer can manifest itself in other ways apart from moles.
"Skin cancer is not always moles, only one of mine have been 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 deep enough to metastasize. Melanoma kills, non melanoma disfigures (and can also kill). Don't be a statistic!"