A picture of health
“I don’t recall anyone at our graduation who wasn’t tanned. I used tanning beds every other day for about four years.”
Jackie Connors, a 39-year-old nurse in St. John’s, Newfoundland, started using tanning beds in her teens because “tans were in and everybody was doing it."
“I don’t recall anyone at our graduation who wasn’t tanned,” she adds. “I used tanning beds every other day for about four years. I went to two or three different salons to get as much time as possible. It was definitely addictive.”
At age 20, while at nursing school, Connors learned about the signs of skin cancer, including the most dangerous kind, melanoma. A very dark, irregular, raised spot on her leg that bled after shaving rang alarm bells.
After the spot was removed, the confirmed diagnosis of cancer was “completely devastating,” says Connors. She underwent further surgery to remove a wide margin of skin around the cancerous lesion.
The blond, blue-eyed mother of one has since undergone treatment for two more melanomas – one on her back, the other on her neck.
Back at the dermatologist’s office where she now works, Connors looks for any opportunity to counsel parents and teens against sunbed use and to tell her story. “They can’t believe what I’ve been through,” she says. “I show them the scars."
“My own parents really regret that they let me use tanning beds, but no one knew much about them then. Over the past five or 10 years, knowledge about the dangers of using tanning beds has really grown. It’s important that people find out the facts about indoor tanning. Don’t learn the hard way.”
Visit the host publication or see more related articles below: