Tan Skin Isn’t Worth It (Take It From Me, A Skin Cancer Survivor)

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“Today I got my first cancerous spot removed. I now get to go back for suture removal/wound checks, an appointment to get my WHOLE body checked out, VERY routine checkups for a long while, and then routine checkups for life, and almost 100% many more painful appointments of getting skin cancer taken off my body.

Woman with gauze on her lip after skin cancer removal
Mallory Lubbock

Dammit 16-year-old Mallory that went tanning every single day for 2 years. I will try like hell to make sure my daughter will not be laying in a single tanning bed while she is under my roof, and I hope her just hearing about and seeing Mama go through this will be enough.

You guys. Get your daughters out of tanning beds. Get your 16-year-old sister out of them. Hell, get out of them yourselves! It’s so not worth it. Is tan skin REALLY worth it? This will scar and this HURT. I am now the mom at the beach with the umbrella and my SPF 100 HEAVILY applied. Never ever did I think this would happen to me. (who does?)

Woman who had skin cancer as a teen smiling
Mallory Lubbock

I started tanning in a tanning bed when I was 16, but honestly, I laid out even before that. Starting in middle school, around 14 years of age, I’d be in my yard in a bathing suit or at the beach. I would use oil, and no sunscreen.

I started tanning because I thought it looked better to have tan skin. And when I was 16 and started using a tanning bed, it was in the winter when I was playing basketball and wanted to be tan in my jersey. (I know.) But I kept going because it’s so easy to pop in for 20 minutes a day instead of laying out all day.

Woman who had skin cancer as a teen smiling
Mallory Lubbock

I first officially ‘found out’ my spot was cancer in January of this year, but I have been going to the dermatologist since October 2017. We tried antibiotic creams and different treatments at first because they honestly didn’t think at all that it was cancer. It didn’t necessarily look or act like cancer. So when I found out, I was absolutely floored. I felt sick. I had put that out of my head after hearing for 3 months that it was not cancer and didn’t need to worry about it. I felt angry at myself. I remember thinking that I wish I hadn’t done all the laying in the sun and laying in a tanning bed, and remember thinking how stupid I was 10+ years ago.

Woman after skin cancer removal with scar on her lip
Mallory Lubbock

The spot first showed up around June 2017, so I knew something was off when by September (when I made the appointment) it still wasn’t gone. I was so relieved when they assured me it wasn’t cancer, only to find out 3 months later it, indeed ,was cancer.

Anything that could potentially take me away from my babies scares the heck out of me. My kids are 3 years old and 6 months old, so they need their mom. It’s hard to come to terms with the fact my stupid decisions caused this, especially now that I have kids myself. You can tell a 14, 15, 16-year-old somethings dangerous but you think you’re invincible at that age. I hope they learn from my dumb mistakes!

I want to warn the youth that it’s so not worth it. It really isn’t! I take full blame for ending up with skin cancer and don’t want other young teens or even young adults to make the same mistakes I did. I now have to be checked for the rest of my life and more than likely will end up with more spots. And I’m still young! If I could go back, I wouldn’t tan inside a tanning bed, or outside. I will never be out in the sun for the sole purpose to ‘get a tan’ ever again.”

Close up of woman's scar from skin cancer removal
Mallory Lubbock

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Mallory Lubbock, 26, of Clear Lake, Iowa. 

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