A mom is speaking out about the dangers of tanning beds after she was forced to get one of her ears amputated when she was diagnosed with melanoma. Now the mom of two wants her story to be a lesson to others.
In an interview with the BBC, 44-year-old Anthea Smith called her years of tanning an addiction. However, while the aggressive form of melanoma may have been the result of her own choices in life, they were choices she made because she “had no level of knowledge of the dangers” of tanning beds.
As Smith explained, her addiction started at a young age. “I was addicted to having a tan, to being tanned. Predominantly it was sunbeds because it was quicker, and the results were faster.”
Mom of Two Shares Harrowing Cancer Story to Spread Awareness After Her Ear Is Amputated
However, after years of spending day after day bronzing her skin, she noticed a flesh-colored growth that had started growing in her ear in 2014. Initially, Smith’s dermatologist diagnosed the growth as a wart, but when it changed in color and in size, the mom of two knew it was something bigger.
Smith was then diagnosed with stage III melanoma. Her treatment included two operations and an undisclosed amount of radiation treatments.
“I lost my left ear to my tanning addiction. [My] whole left ear has been amputated, and then [in a] second operation I had my whole inner ear, middle ear, all my salivary glands on my left side, all my lymph nodes. Full temple bone [was] taken from my skull.”
The mom continued, admitting that she feels guilty having put her family through watching her battle cancer. “The guilt that I feel to my husband and children, really, that this is all, this was self-inflicted. But it was self-inflicted with no level of knowledge of the dangers.”
According to the American Cancer Society, it is estimated that “about 100,350 new melanomas will be diagnosed in 2020, adding that “the rates of melanoma have been rising rapidly over the past few decades, but this has varied by age.” The American Cancer Society also reports that “cancer of the skin is by far the most common of all cancers.”
As Smith explained, “Nobody should have to live with what I’m living with, all for a tan.”
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