Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of the Indoor Tanning Association, FTC File No. 082 3159 #546672-00041

Submission Number:
Laura Mikkelson
Initiative Name:
Proposed Consent Agreement In the Matter of the Indoor Tanning Association, FTC File No. 082 3159
I was born in 1972 in Fort Myers, Florida. Back then my mom always had a fascination with the beach which why my parents moved to Florida. In the '70's and '80's I really don't recall much warning about sunblock and skin cancer. If it was out there it definitely was not as widely advertised as it is today. I can honestly say that in the mid '80's when I would lie out for 4 -5 hours with baby oil and iodine mixture I honestly did not know that I was doing myself any harm...except I did know that I was prematurely aging my skin...but when you are in your early to mid teens that is the last thing you worry about....after all...we are invincible....or so we thought back then. So I would tan as much and as frequently as I possibly could...whether it be catching a ride with the parents, friends, or even take the bus to Siesta Key. Plus I always had the old backyard as my back-up for catching some rays on a beautiful Florida day (which we have plenty of those here). So the early '90's come and a girlfriend of mine introduces me to tanning beds. At this point I have heard a little bit about melanoma and how the severe burns I had suffered in my teens could come back to haunt me...but again there really wasn't a lot of information out there...or at least I again chose not to pay particularly close attention. As I recall I remember hearing more about AIDS and STD awareness than skin cancer. The tanning salons back then were even advertising themselves as the safe alternative to sun. That the rays the beds put out were the good rays. I look back on that know and realize what a joke that was. So I would hit a tanning salon with my girlfriends on the way to Siesta Key, we would spend anywhere from 3 - 5 hours at the beach, and then hit a different tanning salon on the way home. The salons did enforce the one tanning session a day but there was no way for them to track whether I had been to a different location earlier in the day let alone even ask me if I had already spent time at the beach...which was something they obviously could tell but for them they just wanted my business. So over my lifetime I had had way too many blistering sunburns to count on both of my hands, I was always as tan as I possibly could get, my hair was always as bleached blonde as the sun could get it, and if I ever got to what I felt was a pale look I would just step up my tanning ritual for a week or two and get back to the point that my skin would not get any darker. In the late '90's I did finally start going to a dermatologist because at this point I had heard that I was high risk for developing skin cancer. I am a natural blonde, blue eyes, fair skin, had the blistering burns when I was growing up, and cancer is very rampant in my family. The doctor would do a few biopsies here and there mainly to get rid of some of the moles that were raised & bothersome to me. They always came back negative so I eventually quite going once all of the bothersome moles were gone and all had come back negative. I figured I managed to get through that point in my life unscathed. But did I learn a lesson? Absolutely not!! I still would go and tan but not to that extreme anymore. I would come home from work usually around 2pm and lay out in my back yard or even go to Siesta Key for a couple of hours EVERYDAY. So I no longer would hit the tanning beds or if I did it would be just one and no beach visit that day. In 2001 I finally noticed a mole that just didn't look right but did not follow the ABCDE's of melanoma. Lucky for me I had a very caring and nagging boyfriend who insisted I get it looked at or he was going to break up w/ me. Even though I was annoyed with him I went to the dermatologist and had it biopsied, good thing because it came back positive for melanoma and I had swollen lymph nodes in the area as well. I am one of the fortunate ones who were able to have the cancer removed w/out any further treatment. Not everyone is as lucky.