Most of us can probably point to something we regret doing as a teen. But while some of those choices, like regrettable haircuts from our past, make for great brunch fodder, other choices are far more concerning. Take, for instance, Mallory Lubbock’s teenage tanning bed habit. The 26-year-old Iowa mom is calling out her former use of tanning beds on Facebook with a post-surgery skin cancer selfie — and it’s going viral.
After having a cancerous growth removed from her upper lip, Lubbock is sharing her story in the hopes that more teens won’t make the same tanning mistake she did. “I remember seeing skin cancer posts on Facebook and thinking, Oh, that’ll never happen to me,” she told Yahoo Lifestyle.
But after having a cancerous growth removed, Lubbock decided to share her own skin cancer selfie. “I wanted to bring awareness to not only what can happen when you’re out in the sun without sunscreen but also in a tanning bed,” Lubbock said. “I went every single day for two years, and almost every day for four. I’m so young and will now deal with this the rest of my life.”
In her post, she stresses the lifelong impacts of skin cancer. “I now get to go back for suture removal/wound check, 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% certainly many more painful ass appointments of getting skin cancer taken off my body,” she wrote.
In a study published last spring, researchers found that American teens, especially teen girls, are likely to be introduced to tanning by their mothers. Lubbock specifically addresses the link, issuing a plea to stop the cancer-causing cycle.
“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. 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,” she wrote. “I hope her just hearing about and seeing Mama go through this will be enough.”
These graphic skin cancer selfies actually do help prevent skin cancer. As Allure previously reported, researchers found that viral posts like Lubbock’s can cause a spike in searches for skin cancer prevention. “We conclude that an ordinary person’s social media post caught the public’s imagination and led to significant increases in public engagement with skin cancer prevention,” the study authors wrote.
To help prevent skin cancer, you know the drill: Wear your sunscreen, seek shade, and stay away from tanning beds. As Lubbock’s viral post shows, you can also be an advocate for keeping your loved ones out of tanning beds, too.
For more on skin cancer:
Now, find out how the history of sunscreen: