For years, BBC reporter Laura McMullan was an unabashed user of tanning beds. She proudly visited tanning salons on an almost-daily basis, and even once tweeted that she wouldn’t feel like herself if she wasn’t brown year-round.
Just over a year ago, McMullan received some sad, if unsurprising, news: she had melanoma.
“I was a self-confessed tan addict,” she told the Birmingham Mail. “For more than 20 years I prized a deep brown tan, using sun beds for more than 10 years and going on holiday to places where I could bake in the sun every day. I never imagined that what I was doing was harmful, until just over a year ago - when I was told I had melanoma. It’s been a really tough year. Anyone who’s had a cancer diagnosis will know that it doesn’t just attack a certain part of your body, it affects your whole life and your loved ones.”
McMullan first went to her doctor in June 2013 about an irregular looking spot on the back of her leg. The following February, a dermatologist came to her with the last diagnosis she wanted to hear: the spot was melanoma. To make matters worse, the cancer had spread to her groin as well.
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Thankfully, modern medicine proved powerful enough to clear her body of the disease. After several rounds of surgery, McMullan was pronounced cancer-free. These days, McMullan spends her days advocating against the very activity she used to love most. She and her BBC coworkers are now proudly producing a documentary warning of the dangers of tanning bed use.
“From the very beginning I’ve known that I wanted to raise awareness, but I couldn’t even begin to try until I knew I was on the road to recovery,” she told the Birmingham Mail. “I can’t believe it’s all now happening – I’m scared and excited at the same time. And if I can get a strong message out to as many people as possible then I've done what I set out to do.”
Photo Credit: Evil Erin/Flickr, The Birmingham Mail