Sammy Nickalls
Updated Jul 21, 2015 @ 9:54 am

Two months ago, 27-year-old Tawny Willoughby posted a very graphic selfie that showed us the pain of skin cancer, as well as the incredible dangers of tanning beds. The picture was of her face, and it showed the grisly horror she’s had to endure after treatments for her skin cancer. Now, another woman has turned her own experience into an opportunity to raise awareness, this time, about one overlooked sign of skin cancer.

Earlier this month, Facebook user Melanie Williams from Leeds posted a picture of herself holding her thumb up to the camera. Her thumbnail looked dark, like she had got it caught in a door — something that’s happened to all of us from time to time. But it wasn’t just a little accident.

“See that on my thumb? Do you know what it is? Its skin cancer,” she wrote on her Facebook post. “This grew from nothing in a matter of weeks. I thought it was just a fungal infection or a wart. Sadly not.”

She explained that the cancer hasn’t spread, but that the next week, she would be getting half of her thumb removed to get rid of the cancer. “This may have not been the case if I’d left it and not got it checked out,” she warned readers. “I don’t want your sympathy, I want more awareness.”

Melanie hit the nail on the head: awareness is key. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, it’s the most common kind of cancer in the United States, with over two million people diagnosed annually. That means one in five Americans will develop skin cancer over the course of their lifetime.

Melanie begged those who were reading her post to go to the doctor if they notice anything strange on their body. “. . . please go and get any changes or growths on your skin checked out, [sic] please tell people around you to get checked as well. [Don’t] leave it to chance or make excuses!”

She told her followers that she doesn’t want good wishes, because she will be “fighting fit” in no time. “So please, don’t leave comments about how brave I am or how sorry you are,” she wrote. “Instead take that time to share this or tell someone they need to get checked or make that phone call to the doctors for yourself.” She ended the post with some levity in an otherwise sobering situation: “If anyone knows where I can get a mini hook attachment for my stubby thumb give me a shout!“

The picture has since been shared over 110,000 times, and we totally see why. It’s easy to forget that skin cancer can happen literally anywhere on your body — including your thumb. The dangers of the sun and tanning beds know no bounds.

Melanie commented on the picture on July 16th with an update: she had her operation, but she may need more of her thumb taken away than initially expected. “I’m due to have more tests done in the next week, so will have to see where we go from there,” she wrote.

She’s incredibly grateful for the awareness spread from her picture. “Totally lost for words . . . on the response it has received,” Melanie said in her comment. “I feel proud of everyone who’s shared and taken note because of the awareness it’s raised!”

We are so thankful to Melanie for taking a scary moment in her life and using it to raise awareness about such a horrifying (yet sadly all-too-common) condition that can be preventable. Remember: it’s beach season, but don’t soak up the sun for too long. Stay out of the sun when it’s high in the sky, and cover yourself up. Use sunscreen and stay safe!

(Images via Facebook)