*WARNING: Grpahic Images
A young mother from Alabama, who suffers from skin cancer, has shared a shocking selfie of her treatment as a graphic warning to sunbed users.
The photo of Alabama nurse Tawny Willoughby, 27, which shows her face covered with bloody scars and blisters, has been shared more than 50,000 times since it was posted on Facebook last month.
She wrote in the description:
"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."
Growing up in Kentucky, Tawny admits that as a teenager she used sunbeds four or five times a week.
She told CNN:
"I had my own personal tanning bed in my home and so did a lot of my friends growing up… everyone tanned.
"I didn’t really even think about the future or skin cancer at the time."
Then six years ago, one of Tawny’s nursing school classmates was diagnosed with melanoma and she decided to get herself checked, too.
And at the age of 21, she was told that she had skin cancer and since then Tawny has had basal cell carcinoma five times and squamous cell carcinoma once.
Tawny now visits her dermatologist once every six to 12 months and “usually has a skin cancer removed at each checkup”.
She uses a specialist cream and has had a number of treatments, such as using liquid nitrogen on her face to freeze tumors.
"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."
"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!"
Despite her image being reported to Facebook for “graphic violence”, Tawny’s honesty has gained her many admirers.
One of them wrote:
"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!"
She told CNN that she didn’t expect the selfie of her damaged face to go viral, however 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.
"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."
Browse through the gallery to see more photos of Tawny before and after her treatment.