Like many women her age, 49-year-old Judy Cloud spent a lot of time in the sun in her youth without adequate sun protection and she is now paying a high price for her years of tanning.
The mother-of-two admits to only using sunscreens with SPF 2 or 4 in her 20s and said she would pay a visit to sunbed salons a few times a year to top up her vacation glow never thinking she was at risk of getting skin cancer.
But when Judy visited a dermatologist in 1995 to get what she thought was a scab checked out, her long 20-year battle with skin cancer began.
Initially, Judy had what turned out to be basal cell carcinoma - the most common form of non-melanoma skin cancer caused by damage done by the sun and tanning beds.
Over the years she’s had to have other skin spots removed but Judy’s most recent surgery was the most invasive. She had 23 spots of skin cancer found on her face, chest, arms, and legs removed. A muscle around her mouth was cut and a nerve was removed in her head by doctors in a bid to remove the cancers.
Now five months later Judy still cannot feel her left cheek or from her forehead to her scalp.
Following the invasive procedure, Judy took to Facebook to share confronting photos and spread the message that tanning is simply not worth it.
“This is skin cancer,” she wrote. “This is the result of using tanning beds when I was younger. This is the result of having numerous sunburns as a child and teen, and not being religious about applying sunscreen.”
In her Facebook post Judy also questioned the true cost of a tan, saying she had been billed upwards of $26,000 USD ($35,000 AUD) for all of her cancer surgeries.
“I know tanning salons advertise tanning packages that are cheap. Does a surgery to correct what the tanning bed does to you still make the tanning special sound cheap?” Judy wrote.
“I’m really hoping the thought of going to a tanning bed no longer sounds quite so attractive to you.”
The post has been shared over 100,000 times.
While speaking to SELF about the viral post Judy said she felt obligated to try and show people that cancer can happen to anybody if they don’t take care of their skin.
“My 20-year-old self would never share [these pictures] and my 30-year-old self would never share them, but when my doctor said I was going to have another surgery, I said, ‘I’m going to document it this time and post it afterwards,’ ”Judy told SELF. “I never thought I would show myself on Facebook without makeup on let alone without makeup on and looking so injured. But, I’m old enough now to know this is needed.”
Despite fierce campaigning from cancer organisations and the government about sun safety two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70, with more than 434,000 people treated for one or more non-melanoma skin cancers in Australia each year, reports the Cancer Council.
Video suggestion: THE AMERICAN FAMILY THAT TRAGICALLY LOST THEIR SEPTUPLETS