A Chicago mother who said her tanning habit was so intense at one point that she was visiting the salon every day is warning others after she was diagnosed with skin cancer and left with a giant hole in her face.
WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGE AHEAD
Carrie Doles, 34, said she started using tanning beds at 18 and would skip sunscreen while lying in the sun.
“I didn’t know what skin care was then, I was young and felt I didn’t need to take care of my skin at such a young age,” she told MDW Features. “My skin was lucky if I put SPF on it or any type of moisturizer.”
But in 2010, Doles noticed a scab on her left temple and discovered two weeks before her wedding that it was skin cancer. At 26, Doles was diagnosed with basal skin cancer and underwent six procedures to remove the affected cells.
Basal cell carcinomas are uncontrolled growths or lesions that show up in the skin’s basal cells. More than 4 million cases of basal cell carcinoma are diagnosed each year, and they can look like open sores, red patches, pink growths, shiny bumps or scars, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. While BCC rarely spreads beyond the tumor site, it can be disfiguring if left untreated.
Diagnosis is confirmed through biopsy, with treatment typically depending on size, location, and depth of the growth. Doles’ case required her doctor to numb the area and cut away the affected cells. The procedures left Doles with a large hole in her face, and due to scheduling conflicts, she allegedly wasn’t seen by a plastic surgeon until the following day.
“So, I had to go home that night, clean and care for my open wound on my own,” she told MDW Features. “I couldn’t eat anything because of surgery in the morning and I couldn’t take any pain pills. Surgery finally came. He was able to reattach my nerves but in order to close up the hole and have my face look even, he had to do a mini face-lift and a mini brow-lift.”
Doles' cancer returned in 2014 and had to be removed by a head, neck and throat specialist, according to the news outlet. The procedures have left her with lasting side effects including severe headaches and lingering paralysis. She said the area is still tender to touch, and her eye is prone to watering.
“It feels like I am being struck by lightning in that area,” she told MDW Features. “I still cannot raise my left eyebrow.”
Doles said she hopes her experience serves as a cautionary tale about the importance of skin care and sun safety. She no longer spends time in the tanning bed or sunbathing.
“Stop tanning,” she told MDW Features. “Your skin will thank you when you are older.”