Tawny Dzierzek is a beautiful, 29-year-old mom, who has taken her fair share of selfies over the years:
And while all of her photos stand out in their own right, it was a selfie she took in April 2015 that has helped people not only realize the importance of taking care of your health but has also saved a number of lives in the process.
Dzierzek, at one point in her life, frequented tanning beds. The bad habit resulted in her being diagnosed with skin cancer:
The photo above is how Dzierzek’s face reacted to the cancer treatment she needed to receive.
The mom of one wrote:
If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. 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.
She continued by admitting most of her tanning days were when she was in high school. Sometimes, she would find using her tanning bed four times a week.
According to Liftable, she decided to go to a dermatologist after one of her friends from nursing school received a melanoma diagnosis. Dzierzek was 21 when she first learned she had skin cancer. As she continued on Facebook:
I never laid in the tanning bed and in the sun in the same day. I never laid in the tanning bed twice in one day. I had my first skin cancer diagnosis at 21. Now, at 27, I’ve had basal cell carcinoma 5 times and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face). I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I’m very thankful to not have had melanoma!
She then went on to tell people what to look out for when checking yourself for signs that could potentially mean skin cancer:
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! This treatment was done using a cream called Aldara (imiquimod). I’ve also had the following treatments: Curettage and Electrodessication, Cryosurgery (freezing with liquid nitrogen), Surgical Excision and Photodynamic Therapy (PDT).
The 29-year-old told CNN she never really thought about skin cancer while she was tanning. She explained:
“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.”
Since posting the graphic selfie, over 100,000 people on Facebook have shared it. Not only that but a week after the mom shared the photo, the medical journal “Preventative Medicine” attributed the 162 percent spike in Google searches for “skin cancer” directly to Dzierzek’s selfie.
Dzierzek wrote she hoped by sharing her journey it would allow others to learn from her mistakes — so they never have to endure the countless treatments she has been forced to undergo throughout the years.