Image: Tawny Willoughby (Twitter).
Although the ‘slip, slop, slap’ message has been drummed into us since we were kids, it can be easy to underestimate just how important these sun safety measures are — especially in the cooler months. ‘It’s not even that bright outside today,’ we tell ourselves. ‘My foundation is probably going to block out most of the sun anyway.’
Some people go one step further by sun baking for extended periods, or making regular appointments to use solariums. Tawny Willoghby, 27, is one woman who’s learned the dangers of excessive UV exposure the hard way.
When she was a teenager, Willoughby used tanning beds four to five times a week to maintain her tan. Now her skin is paying the price. At age 21, she was diagnosed with her first skin cancer, and in the six years since she’s had five basal cell carcinomas and one squamous cell carcinoma.
Now, the Alabama nurse has given the world an insight into what skin cancer treatment can look like. She posted the above photo of her blistered, scarred face on Facebook last month to motivate others to be sun smart.
It's since been shared more than 50,000 times — and also reported to Facebook for depicting "graphic violence" by someone who clearly missed the point.
"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," Willoughby writes.
"I go to the dermatologist every six to 12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I'm very thankful to not have had melanoma! 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 metastasise." (Post continues after gallery.)
Willoughby has undergone a number of treatments for her skin cancers — the one pictured involved a cream called Aladara, or imiquimod. She's also had Curettage and Electrodessication, Cryosurgery — i.e. freezing with liquid nitrogen — Surgical Excision and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).