A mum who described herself as a ‘diehard’ tanning addict was shocked when a spot on her nose turned out to be cancer.
Teacher Rebekah Rupp was using tanning beds six times a week without proper SPF care and would cleanse her face using wipes.
When the 41-year-old from Oklahoma noticed a spot on her nose, she saw a dermatologist, who removed the white spot immediately and sent it off for testing.
Rebekah was then diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma skin cancer and underwent surgery to remove the affected layers of skin.
As a result of the procedure, she was left with a hole in her nose which was repaired via a forehead flap, where a vein from the forehead is attached to the nose.
Since her surgery, Rebekah takes extra care of her skin, wearing sunscreen every day and a hat when in the sun. She also makes sure her children are well protected and have sunscreen in their bags.
Rebekah explained how her addiction came to be, saying: ‘In my earlier years, I tanned at least five to six times a week. I was told by others it was bad for me, but until it happened to me – I never listened.
‘I loved the way tanning made me feel. It relaxed me, it made me feel pretty, and it gave me a glow that I loved.’
Rebekah only began paying attention to her skin when she started a side job with a beauty company. Soon, she learned the importance of using SPF.
But by then it was too late and Rebekah was forced to prepare for the worst.
‘I was very scared,’ she continued. ‘Hearing the word cancer hurts. It’s the worst feeling in the world because in the back of your mind you are thinking death.’
After doctors removed all the skin cancer from her nose, Rebekah was sent to a reconstructive surgeon to repair the hole in her nose.
The surgeon did a forehead flap which she wore for four weeks before having it removed.
Following on from her surgery, Rebekah still has some swelling but she’s sharing her experience to encourage others to use sun protection.
‘Protect your skin while you have it. Don’t tan in tanning beds or expose your skin to sun exposure without using sunscreen and wearing protection on your head.
‘My first advice to everyone is wearing sunscreen. If you can’t find a sunscreen, I can hook you up, but truthfully any sunscreen is better than none.
‘Also, make it a habit to go to the dermatologist at least once a year. If you have any concerns about any spots on your body, go get it checked out.
‘If it’s nothing, then at least you have peace of mind.’
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