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Illustration Essay: Tanning Causes Melanoma Skin Cancer In December of 2010, at the age of forty, I was diagnosed with Stage III Metastatic Melanoma. In my early twenties I would tan every day. I would tan outdoors or go into the tanning salon. At the tanning salon I would see the small picture of the danger signs of melanoma, only to look right next to it and see the large poster of a gorgeous model with beautifully tanned skin holding the latest indoor tanning lotion.

That model’s poster made me tan more and buy the lotion. Tanning couldn’t be that bad if the tanning salons weren’t illegal, right? Wrong! Tanning in fact will put you at a higher risk to cause basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, age your skin prematurely, or cause melanoma cancer that can kill you. Statistically, in the United States approximately three out of ten Caucasians may develop a basal-cell cancer within their lifetime. In eighty percent of all cases, basal-cell cancers are found on the head and neck.

There appears to be an increase in the incidence of basal-cell cancer of the trunk (torso) in recent years (en. wikipedia. org). My cousin, Chrystal’s husband Dave would always go without a shirt in the summertime. Dave would get burnt several times a year on his back due to the hot sun. At the age of twenty-two, Dave noticed an unusual looking mole on his back. The mole continued to grow larger and the edges of the mole were jagged. Dave knew this was a possible sign of skin cancer. He made an appointment with his dermatologist.

The dermatologist took a biopsy of the mole and the results of the biopsy showed Dave had basal-cell carcinoma. Dave was scheduled for surgery and the dermatologist had to take a very large portion of the tissue in Dave’s back to make certain all the cancer was removed. Dave now has a very large scar and a large portion of tissue missing from his back due to basal-cell carcinoma. Not only will you have a higher risk for basal-cell carcinoma and r squamous cell carcinoma from the sun and tanning beds, you are at a much higher risk of pre-mature aging.

Consider the infamous tanning mom Patricia Krentcil. She has very dark, dry leathery looking skin. Patricia Krentcil also has multiple lines all over her face and neck. There are multiple discolorations all over her from the harmful rays. By lying in the sun or using a tanning bed you are at a higher risk of getting basal cell or squamous cell carcinoma, aging your skin prematurely, or be diagnosed with melanoma cancer that can kill you.

Cancer is the most feared disease in the world along with the most feared word. A diagnosis of cancer or even someone having the suspicion of cancer is extremely frightening. After being diagnosed with cancer most reflect on people they knew or stories they have heard about those who have died of the disease. I did. There is no cure for melanoma cancer and up until this point the only form of treatment has been interferon which is only replacing your body’s own immune system that the cancer killed.

I have such a rare type of melanoma that I am only in a three percentile of people in the United States. We can’t find the primary source of my disease. I used to enjoy lying in the sun and tanning beds. I would go on vacations and my main focus would be to lay by the beach or the pool to get as dark as possible. I liked having a tan because it always made me feel better about myself. Now all I think about is my diagnosis of melanoma cancer and my prognosis, death.

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