As summer begins to wane in the northern parts of the United States, many people start to think about how to hold on to one of the most precious things they got at the peak of the heat and sunshine—their tans.
But while getting some color is one thing, tanning can be even more deadly than smoking.
After being diagnosed with stage III melanoma at 33 years old, Ashley Trenner felt an urgent need in her final days to…
Disturbing studies from the American Cancer Society have shown that skin cancer “is by far the most common type of cancer.” It takes twice as many lives as lung cancer, a disease that’s well known and whose dangers are advertised on every pack of cigarettes and tobacco products. But when have you ever seen an image of a person with melanoma posted on a tanning bed?
If there’s an image that should be seen, it’s that of Ashley Trenner, a woman from Washington state, who was one of the 35 percent of Americans who have used a tanning bed, a figure reported from an AMA study, per USA Today. But Tanner didn’t just go from time to time; she made it her mission to keep her tan all year round.
As friends of hers told the SkinCancer Foundation, this beautiful, energetic retail worker would always say, “I don’t care if I die from tanning as long as I die tan.” Living in one of the least sunny parts of the country and being fair-skinned by nature, Trenner had to work hard to keep it going. Tanning was just one part of her focus on her appearance. “She was into looking good and being thin,” her mom, Karen, told the Foundation.
Washington state now bans tanning for those under age 18. Here's a look back at Ashley Trenner, who lost her life to melanoma. Her final wish was to ban tanning: http://kng5.tv/1fqlxam
But Trenner had no idea what all that tanning was really doing to her skin. She was only thinking about the great look it gave her, and the good feeling that came from the UV rays, which aren’t in abundance in the rainy Pacific Northwest. As the SkinCancer Foundation notes, “studies show that UV light from tanning can increase the level of feel-good chemicals in the brain, leading to dependency, not unlike drug addiction.”
For people like Trenner, who are prone to seasonal depression, tanning not only boosts their self-image, it also makes them feel as though they have received a booster shot of sunshine.
All this time, Trenner was oblivious to very real downsides of tanning. When her mom pleaded with her to stop, given the history of melanoma in the family, Trenner said she didn’t care. As she wrote in a blog post, “I didn’t listen when I was warned about the dangers of tanning beds and not using sunscreen.”
This is about a dear friend of mine that is sharing her story – please forward her story to everyone you know….
For a while, Trenner was able to get away with it, but the millions of UV rays eventually caught up with her. At age 33, about 15 years after she had started tanning, Trenner was diagnosed with melanoma. It started small enough with small lesions on her buttocks that the dermatologists removed. But Trenner didn’t have insurance at the time and couldn’t get over her pride to ask her parents for financial help.
As Trenner wrote on her friend’s blog, the key is catching the disease early. “If the melanoma is caught in the beginning stages and hasn’t metastasized the survival rate is over 95% and highly treatable.” But if like Trenner, you delay, the disease spreads like wildfire throughout your body and can’t be treated. “It’s a cancer that’s not taken seriously. The majority of people say, ‘oh, it’s just skin cancer, you[‘re] lucky.’ If not detected early skin cancer is deadly.”
Perhaps the worst thing about Trenner’s melanoma was the knowledge that she did it to herself. As she told KING in Seattle, “I paid. I paid money to be in the position I am now […] It wasn’t just like I wanted to be tan. I was literally paying someone to get this terrible disease that’s killing me.”
In March 2013, after seven years of painful and expensive surgeries, drugs, and treatments, Ashley Trenner passed away. While her life was lost unnecessarily, before she died, she made sure to share her story far and wide to save others.
As per the Skin Cancer Foundation, “if there’s one person’s life I can affect, that’s a beautiful gift I can give to somebody. I don’t want them to end up like me, it’s just not worth it.”
Thumbnail Credit: Video Screenshot | AIR.TV