Warning: This post contains graphic images.
A Chicago woman is speaking out about the danger of tanning beds after skin cancer left her with a hole in her face.
Carrie Doles’s tanning habit began during her college years. She would take daily trips to the tanning salon after her and her friends had finished classes.
“It was euphoric I guess,” Doles told Illinois news station WFLD. “It became an addiction. If I missed a day I would become depressed.”
After graduation, the Illinois native said she noticed a spot on the back of her leg and visited a dermatologist. A biopsy revealed she had basal cell carcinoma, a form of skin cancer often attributed to sun exposure.
Doctors removed the spot, and warned Doles to stay out of the sun and tanning beds, an order Doles says she didn’t take seriously.
“I didn’t heed his warning, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, I was always told that the basal cell cancer was the good kind of cancer, if you’re going to have a skin cancer, so I continued to tan after that,” she admitted.
When she was 26, Doles noticed a spot on the side of her face but says she “didn’t think anything of it” until she went to have it checked out before her wedding.
What began as a small sore suddenly began to spread. “It was nauseating,” the now 34-year-old mother-of-two recalled. “It was pure shock.”
Doctors confirmed it was skin cancer once again, and shortly after she tied the knot, scheduled surgery.
“I heard them cutting into my skin,” Doles said. “When they finally said that the cancer cells were removed, I was left with a huge hole on the side of my face.”
In total, Doles has received three skin cancer diagnoses, and she’s preparing herself for more.
“I’m more than likely going to have another couple bouts of skin cancer,” Doles said. “Now that I’ve had it, my risks are very high.”
It’s reported that an estimated 4.3 million cases of basal cell carcinoma (BCC) are diagnosed in the United States each year. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, any history of indoor tanning increases your risk of developing skin cancer by the age of 40 by 69 per cent.
Although highly treatable with early detection, BCC should not be ignored. Early warning signs for BCC include persistent non-healing sores, red or irritated patches of skin, the appearance of new bumps that look like moles, pink growths or scar-like white or yellow patches.
As for Doles, she now does her best to prevent another diagnosis by wearing sunscreen everyday and staying out of the sun.
“It’s not worth it,” she said. “It’s not worth dying over having a tan.”