A Tennessee woman is warning others of the danger of an excessive use of sunbeds. Her own addiction to the artificial tanning method over 20 years has led her to have skin cancer.
April Brown Pulliam, 42, of Bolivar, Tennessee, started regularly lying in the sun when she was 12 years old to avoid being "pale."
At the age of 18, she began using sunbeds more than once a week from February to October and only kicked the habit when she was diagnosed with a dangerous form of melanoma 10 years ago.
She "never" wore sunscreen while outdoors to "maximize" her tan and didn't cover up.
"Don't do it. Don't let anyone talk you into it. Don't let anyone convince you that you would look better with a tan," she said, The Daily Mail reports.
"Pale is beautiful and, most importantly, healthy. Trying to tan my skin is the poorest choice I have ever made and could have cost me my life and may yet," she added.
At the peak of her tanning bed addiction, Pulliam would spend up to 20 minutes in a bed at a time, up to four times per week, shelling out $30-40 for a string of ten appointments.
"Every year, I began earlier in the year and continued longer into the fall," she said,
"When I couldn't go to the tanning bed, I tried to make sure I worked in the yard in a tank top and shorts to maximize my chance of getting more sun. Never with sunscreen," she said.
According to an article she wrote for Scary Mommy, she was literally hooked on the tanning machine.
She wrote: "Many people fail to realize that tanning is addictive. When I say I loved tanning, I don’t mean I cherished it the way I cherish something when I say, 'Look at that quilt! Oh, I love that!'"
"I mean I loved it the way Kanye loves Kim and the way teens love emojis. I would not and could not stop. I absorbed every second of that experience."
When a nurse friend recommended she get a horseshoe-shaped mole looked at, Pulliam obliged only to found out she had melanoma.
She said: "I was sick. Physically ill. I had two small children who were just starting school. I was scared to death for them."
Although the melanoma was removed successfully, she has since had multiple skin biopsies, surgeries and freezes.
The mother-of-two also applies a topical chemotherapy cream on her skin to prevent cancerous spots from forming.
"It's a never-ending cycle. I quit tanning in 2007 immediately following my melanoma diagnosis, but the damage has been done and the effects continue to appear," she said.