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A young mother suffering from skin cancer has been praised for her bravery after sharing a shocking photo of her treatment as a stark warning to sunbed users.
The picture of Alabama nurse Tawny Willoughby, 27, showing her face covered with bloody scars and blisters has been shared over 50,000 times on Facebook since it was posted last month.
'If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here you go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like,' she wrote.
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Tawny Willoughby has been praised for her bravery after sharing a shocking photo of her face covered with bloody scars and blisters as a stark warning to sunbed users
As a teenager growing up in Kentucky, Willoughby, center, admits that she used sunbeds four or five times a week
As a teenager growing up in Kentucky, Willoughby admits that she used sunbeds four or five times a week.
'I had my own personal tanning bed in my home and so did a lot of my friends growing up... everyone tanned,' she told CNN.
'I didn't really even think about the future or skin cancer at the time.'
Six years ago one of Willoughby's nursing school classmates was diagnosed with melanoma and so she decided to make her first dermatology appointment.
At just 21 she was told she had skin cancer and since then she has had basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once.
She now visits her dermatologist every six to 12 months and 'usually has a skin cancer removed at each checkup'.
This picture of Alabama nurse Tawny Willoughby, 27, showing her face covered with bloody scars and blisters has been shared over 50,000 times on Facebook since it was posted last month
Tawny uses a specialist cream and has had a string of treatments, including using liquid nitrogen on her face to freeze tumours.
'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,' warns Willoughby, who is married to husband Cody and has a young son, Kayden.
'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.
'Skin cancer is not always moles, only one of mine have been a mole. Get any suspicious, new and growing spot checked out. Anything that doesn't heal, possibly bleeds on and off and crusts.
'The sooner you find it the less likely it will leave a disfiguring scar or grow deep enough to metastasize. Melanoma kills, non melanoma-disfigures (and can also kill).
'Don't be a statistic!' she warned.
Willoughby, pictured with husband Cody, now visits her dermatologist every six to 12 months and 'usually has a skin cancer removed at each checkup'
Despite the image being reported to Facebook for 'graphic violence', Willoughby's honesty has earned her a legion of admirers.
'You are one strong lady. I'm so glad you're almost finished with your treatments. Praying that you never have to deal with this again!' wrote one person.
Her mom, Scarlett Sexton, also commented. 'I'm so incredibly proud of you my sweet n strong daughter,' she wrote.
Willoughby told CNN that she didn't expect the photo of her damaged face to go viral, but she is hopeful that it could help save lives.
'I've lost count of how many people shared it now and told me I've helped them,' she said.
'Don't let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up,' says Tawny Willoughby, who is pictured with her young son Kayden
'It's really cool to hear people say they won't tan anymore. I've had mothers thank me after sharing my pictures with their daughters. People in my hometown said they are selling their tanning beds.'
One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Exposure to tanning beds increases the risk of melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, said the AAD, which reports that more than 419,000 cases of skin cancer in the U.S. each year are linked to indoor tanning.