Illustration for article titled Womans Shocking Selfie Shows What Skin Cancer From Tanning Looks Like

Tawny Willoughby used to tan four to five times a week. She even had a tanning bed in her home in high school. Then one of her friends from nursing school was diagnosed with skin cancer. Then so was Willoughby. Now she’s posted a selfie of what her cancer treatment looks like in order to raise awareness of skin cancer. Warning: The image (posted below) is graphic.


CNN reports that Willoughby has had skin cancer six times since her initial diagnosis. She’s had “basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once.” She also gets a checkup about twice a year. Almost every time, Willoughby says, the doctor removes another piece of cancerous skin from her body. So she decided to do something about it. Last month she posted an image of her face after one of her skin cancer treatments, along with the following caption:

“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,” she wrote in a post along with the photo. “Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. You only get one skin and you should take care of it.”


Here’s the photo that Willoughby is hoping will bring change to the lives of others who may be tanning as seriously as she was:

Illustration for article titled Womans Shocking Selfie Shows What Skin Cancer From Tanning Looks Like

Popular websites have picked up Willoughby’s story and her photo, and it’s now reaching millions of people worldwide. Willoughby is just hoping that others out there will see it and change their relationship with tanning. She says many have already reached out to her to thank her for her bravery.

“I’ve lost count of how many people shared it now and told me I’ve helped them,” she said. “It’s really cool to hear people say they won’t tan anymore. I’ve had mothers thank me after sharing my pictures with their daughters. People in my hometown said they are selling their tanning beds.


Willoughby is now a registered nurse and while she’s at a high risk for developing melanoma, she’s determined to keep cancer at bay so she can enjoy life with her husband and two children and continue spreading her message.

[Ed Note: For more information on skin cancer detection and prevention, click here.]


Images via Facebook

Contact the author at

Share This Story

Get our newsletter