Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in the United States. More and more cases of melanoma may be caused from early tanning bed usage.
What are your thoughts?
Read about Katie Donnar’s story from Seventeen Magazine;
“I Got Skin Cancer at 17!”
Even if you use a tanning bed only once in your teens, your risk for melanoma — the deadliest skin cancer — increases by 75 percent. But it’s easy to stop this harmful beauty habit when you know the facts. Katie Donnar learned the hard way how harmful tanning beds can be.
“I tried tanning for the first time in sixth grade. I was a cheerleader, and I felt like the pale girl on the team. Everyone on the squad was tanning, and I wasn’t the best one either, so it seemed like I really stood out. We had the same outfits and makeup, so we thought our skin tones should match too. Plus, tanning before a competition gave me confidence, because it helped me blend in with my team. By the time I got to high school, I was tanning every other day. My family even bought me a tanning bed! We hoped it would save money — the monthly payments were $75, and I’d been spending $100 a month to tan at the salon. That summer, I noticed a strange mole on my leg. I had read a story in Seventeen about checking moles, and some of the descriptions of the abnormal ones matched mine. I asked my mom to make a dermatologist appointment, but we couldn’t get in for nine months, because there was only one dermatologist in our county.
I wasn’t that worried, but my family doctor noticed the mole during a routine checkup — and got an appointment for me the next day! That freaked me out. A week later, I had the mole removed and I thought everything would be fine.
But then a few days later, my dad told me that we needed to talk. He said, “The doctor just got your test results. You have malignant melanoma,” the deadliest form of skin cancer. Skin cancer? I thought only old people got that. “Dad, I’m 17. I don’t get skin cancer,” I said. I sat there in silence. Finally, I asked, “Can I die from this?” He tried to reassure me that they caught it early and I would be okay, but I could see he was scared too.
Two weeks later, we went to a melanoma specialist who removed an inch of flesh, half a centimeter deep, around where my mole had been. There’s still an indentation from the chunk of skin that was taken out. And the cancer could still come back, which haunts me every day. I have to get skin checks with a dermatologist every four months, and check my lymph nodes for swelling because the cancer could resurface there and spread.
Now I never tan (only spray tan) — though some of my friends still do. They don’t get it. So many girls think that cancer is a far-in-the-future risk, but you’re actually hurting your body now. I’m just glad I have the chance to tell someone who’s using tanning beds to make a better decision.”