I Didn’t Think It Could Happen to Me

Until she was diagnosed with melanoma in March 2009, Katie Donnar, now 18, was one of the 2.3 million US teens who tan indoors every year. A fair-skinned blonde who never used sunscreen, Donnar had tanned at salons since she was 13. When she started to compete in local pageants in 2008, her mother bought her a tanning bed, which she used up to four times a week for 20 minutes at a time.

When she was 17, Donnar noticed a mole on her left calf. The mole was removed, and found to be a melanoma. The Indiana teen was shocked. “I didn’t think it could happen to me,” she said. “I had read about skin cancer. I heard about the risks of tanning in sunbeds, but I thought it was sort of a myth.” Luckily, the melanoma had not spread, and today, Donnar uses sunscreen, wears protective clothes, and avoids UV tanning.