Woman shares alarming skin cancer selfie to warn others

A woman's brutally honest social media post revealing her skin cancer prompted a huge number of online searches on prevention of the condition, a study shows.

Tawny Willoughby shared a graphic image of the damage to her skin after suffering from the cancer, leading to a 160 per cent surge in people Googling key terms such as "skin" and "cancer".

A study published in the Journal of Preventative Medicine found that after media outlets picked up Ms Willoughby's story, Google searches on skin cancer were up 229,000 between May 13 and 18 following the April 25, 2015 post.

The 27-year-old nurse from the US says it was her use of tanning beds up to five times a week that led to her skin cancer.

The photo she posted shows her face covered in large scabs caused by skin cancer treatment in April, 2015.

Ms Tawny posted this image on Facebook. Source: Facebook

“This is what skin-cancer treatment can look like,” she wrote in the post.

“If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go!”

Tens of thousands of people shared the post.

"Skin cancer prevention", "tan" and tanning" were largely searched.

Ms Tawny said that she posted the selfie because she wanted to warn others of the damage that sun exposure can do.

"My biggest fear is to die from Metastic Melanoma and lose time with my family, husband and my son, I don’t know what the future holds for me," Ms Tawny told Elephant Journal.

"Although at the moment I am cancer free, I know that can change in a moment. I have been diagnosed with Basal Cell Carcinoma five times and recently the more severe Squamous Cell Carcinoma once."

Ms Tawny said she began looking at life differently "because of my son".

"I thought more about how small seemingly insignificant decisions can have such long term lasting effects on our lives," she said.

Ms Tawny said she hopes her message gets through. Source: Facebook

Ms Tawny said she feels that tanning may have significantly shortened her life.

"I always felt insecure about my pale skin when I was growing up," she added.

"It has taken me years to become comfortable and confident with my natural skin colour.

"I see pictures of myself now from high school, and I wish someone could have gotten through to that girl – I wish I had realised the damage I was causing my skin."