Tawny Dzierzek is a beautiful young mother and registered nurse who lives in Kentucky with her little boy. When she posted a “brutally honest” picture on social media, it prompted nearly 300,000 identical Google searches. The response to her honest post was stunning and totally unexpected.
For the most part, selfies have become an annoying trend which we all now put up with as a way of life. Seriously, nobody cares that their friend on social media “woke up like this.” For one woman, however, a selfie was her way of saving lives.
Tawny Dzierzek was 27-years-old when she posted a graphic photo on Facebook depicting her severely scabbed skin during cancer treatment. It went viral and has been shared over 105,000 times.
Her 2015 post began by saying, “If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun, here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment can look like. Wear sunscreen and get a spray tan. Learn from other people’s mistakes. Don’t let tanning prevent you from seeing your children grow up. That’s my biggest fear, now that I have a two-year-old little boy of my own.”
Along with her public appeal to change people’s minds regarding tanning, Tawny shared a brutally honest image of what her face looked like after undergoing treatment for skin cancer.
If anyone needs a little motivation to not lay in the tanning bed and sun here ya go! This is what skin cancer treatment…
The now-viral photo is a far cry from other pictures that the Kentucky nurse has shared on social media, which all depict a drop-dead gorgeous woman who seemingly has no flaws whatsoever and whom you would never think had cancer at first glance.
“I did the bulk of my tanning in high school,” admitted Tawny. “I sometimes laid up to four times a week. Yes, that is excessive. Keep in mind, that was not my typical frequency. I did that when I had an event coming up which I wanted to be tan for—homecoming, prom, vacation… Most of the time, I tanned 1-2 times per week. There were weeks, I didn’t tan at all,” she further explained.
“I had my first skin cancer diagnosis at age 21,” she wrote. “Now, at 27, I’ve had basal cell carcinoma five times, and squamous cell carcinoma once (excluding my face). I go to the dermatologist every 6-12 months, and usually have a skin cancer removed at each checkup. I’m very thankful to not have had melanoma!” she continued.
“Skin cancer is not always moles—only one of mine has been a mole,” Tawny added. “Get any suspicious, new, and growing spot checked out. Melanoma kills; non-melanoma disfigures (and can also kill). Don’t be a statistic! This treatment was done using a cream called: Aldara (imiquimod). The intention of this post is to help people,” she concluded in her post from 2015.
Tawny’s viral selfie prompted record high Google searches for prevention of the condition, as revealed by a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine. According to the study, Tawny’s post generated a 162 percent boost in Google searches of the terms “skin” and “cancer,” and at the peak of its news coverage, there were record levels of “skin cancer” searches, with 229,000 searches of the term in just one week.
“We conclude that an ordinary person’s social media post caught the public’s imagination and led to significant increases in public engagement with skin cancer prevention,” the study states.
“A study, published in Preventative Medicine this week, showed search queries for skin cancer increased 162% after this post was made,” Tawny wrote on Facebook. “I am grateful this post helped raise awareness about skin cancer and sun safety; and I’m very happy to see the statistics, studies, and articles that have helped spread this message to people all over the world,” she added.
“Do your own skin checks; and if you are particularly worried about something, have it checked out (aside from your annual exams),” she continued. “You know your body better than anyone else, and sometimes things are overlooked. If you feel like something is wrong and it is not addressed appropriately, request testing, follow-ups, or get a second opinion.”
Please add yourself to the ranks of the many people who have helped spread this important message by sharing this story. You could easily be saving a life by doing so.