These Selfies Are Doing More To Raise Skin Cancer Awareness Than Any Sunscreen Ad

Graphic photo after the jump. It really sends the message about just how damaging skin cancer can be.

The very pretty woman at right is Tawny Willoughby, a 27-year-old who’s being treated for skin cancer that developed on her face. This isn’t the first time she’s been diagnosed. A registered nurse in Alabama, doctors have found skin cancer six times, and she goes to the dermatologist once or twice a year for a check up. Each time, she usually has cancer removed.

Back in April, she was diagnosed again. This time, she decided to post a selfie showing the toll that the treatment can take.

tawny 2

She wrote with the photo:

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.

According to Buzzfeed, the scabbing you see is from using a cream called Aldara. She’s used a number of different therapies to treat her cancers.

So far, according to her Facebook page, this story has been picked up on CNN, Cosmopolitan, The Daily Mirror and Marie Claire, not to mention the Buzzfeed story we referred to. Her picture has been shared 50,000 times.

Each year, skincare companies caution against spending too much time in the sun without sunscreen. Others, perhaps thinking a tanning bed is safer, spend lots of time baking in a machine to look like they’ve just stepped off the sands of St. Tropez. Tips for protecting your skin abound.

But seeing just what can happen when you don’t take precautions is incredibly powerful. She has done a service by driving awareness about not just skin cancer (everyone knows it exists and we should try to prevent it) but what happens when you get it. It’s clearly not just a matter of having a mole removed.

Image up top via Twitter