"Don't let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up," Tawny Willoughby wrote on Facebook

By Jacqueline Andriakos
Updated May 13, 2015 01:40 PM
Credit: Tawny Willoughby/Facebook

A young mom from Kentucky has revealed the price she paid for that fleeting summer glow during her teenage years.

Tawny Willoughby, an Alabama-based nurse, shared a shocking selfie on her Facebook page after her most recent skin cancer treatment, drawing attention to the damaging and life-threatening effects of tanning.

“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,” the mother of one wrote in an April 25 post. (She reposted the photo May 6 to honor Skin Cancer Awareness Month.)

“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 2-year-old little boy of my own,” the 27-year-old continued.

Shared nearly 60,000 times and picked up by major news outlets, the image shows a close-up of Willoughby’s face covered in blistering, red patches from a recent skin cancer treatment, according to her post.

WARNING: the image below is quite graphic.

RELATED VIDEO: Hugh Jackman: The Moment I Was Told I Had Skin Cancer

Willoughby was open and honest about her personal battle with skin cancer, detailing her lengthy journey in the photo caption.

She explained that she began visiting tanning beds in high school four to five times a week and had her first diagnosis at 21. Now, Willoughby has had basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once.

The new mom goes to the dermatologist every six to 12 months, has tried numerous medical treatments and typically has a skin cancer removal 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,” she posted.

In a follow-up message, Willoughby wrote that she “can’t believe how many people” the image has touched.

“I truly hoped to change at least one persons view on tanning/skincare/sunscreen,” she said.