This woman wants you to see what tanning did to her face
Sunday, July 5, 2015, 1:06 PM - Fancy hitting the tanning bed for a pre-tan before summer gets going? Or any time at all?
If so, Tawny Willoughby, the woman in the pictures up above, has a stark message for you about skin cancer risk.
"This is what skin cancer treatment can look like," she said on Facebook when she first posted the picture below. "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."
Since sharing the picture to Facebook, Willoughby's story has gone viral, featured on numerous major websites.
Willoughby, 27, is a registered nurse in Alabama, and she says she actually did most of her tanning in high school, an average 4-5 times a week, although she says she never laid in a tanning bed more than once a day, nor did she use the bed and tan in the sun in the same day.
The first cancer diagnosis came when she was 21, she says.
"Now, at 27, I've had basal cell carcinoma 5 times and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face)," she said on Facebook. "I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup."
Willoughby says the treatment in the photo was done using a special cream, and she has also experienced other treatments, among them curettage, electrodessication, cryosurgery (which involves liquid nitrogen), surgical excision and photodynamic therapy.
"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," she adds.
The initial photo has been shared almost 60,000 times since being posted, and although it was reported to Facebook for graphic content, it was not taken down.
Melanoma is one of the deadliest cancers, but is preventable (TSN host Gareth Wheeler talked to The Weather Network last year about how he survived multiple brushes with the disease, including one where he had nine tumours removed from his leg over 14 months).
Despite the risks, many flock to the booths and the outdoors with inadequate protection (a study even suggests there might actually be such a thing as a tanning addiction).
Health authorities have stepped up their warnings against tanning beds in recent years.
The World Health Organization says use of tanning beds before the age of 35 increases the risk of cancer by 75 per cent. While tanning beds typically emit UVA radiation, the "least damaging" kind of ultraviolent radiation, more beds have been manufactured which emit higher levels of more harmful UVB, according to the WHO.
In 2014, Health Canada began requiring tanning salons to post labels warning of sunbeds' elevated skin cancer risks, including a recommendation that people under the age of 18 not use them.
Use of tanning beds by minors has been banned in nine of Canada's provinces, although Manitoba allows it with parental consent. The last holdout, Saskatchewan, announced in March that it was preparing similar regulations, taking effect in the summer of 2015.
WATCH BELOW: Make sure you know the signs your body sends you to get out of the sun.