From tanning bed to deathbed.
A millennial obsessed with tanning feels lucky to be alive after discovering two cancerous moles — and she’s using her harrowing experience to share the risks of indoor tanning.
“I’ve probably used a sunbed thousands of times in my life. It was an addiction, there’s no doubt about that,” Fionnghuala Maguire, 35, told Kennedy News and Media.
“My mom was diagnosed with skin cancer and had to have a couple of tumors removed and used to tell me to stop using the sunbeds but you don’t listen, you think you’re invincible,” the West Belfast resident lamented.
Maguire admits to using tanning beds routinely for more than 15 years — even going as often as seven days a week for the ultimate glow.
She said she never applied sunscreen during that period.
“I’ve been a sunbed user since about 14,” Maguire explained. “Back then there wasn’t so much of an age limit. I would go quite naturally dark and having a tan gave me a lot of confidence.”
But in 2020, she found a mole on her right leg that doctors decided to quickly remove due to her family’s history of skin cancer.
After the procedure, Maguire was asked to return to the hospital, where she was told she had Stage 1 melanoma.
A bigger segment of her skin had to be cut away — and another growth on her leg was discovered just three months later.
It was also confirmed as cancer, so Maguire endured immune-boosting treatment to fight the disease.
Unfortunately, she suffered an adverse reaction to the therapy — she developed Addison’s disease when her adrenal glands stopped producing enough hormones.
Shocking photos show Maguire’s face covered in red blotches following the cancer treatment, and she earned herself a trip to the emergency room in December 2021.
“Christmas 2021 I felt like I was going to die,” recalled Maguire, who is mom to 10-year-old Fionn. “My sister took me to hospital and just had to drop me off because it was [during the COVID-19 pandemic]. I didn’t know if I was going to see her again.”
She continued: “They checked my adrenal glands, and they had stopped working. Straight away I was pumped with a hydrocortisone steroid and within that night I felt like a completely different person.”
Maguire said a doctor told her “that if there’d been another day or two of my cortisone levels being that low, I would’ve gone into a coma and passed away.”
She underwent two more immunotherapy sessions, in May 2022, before developing capillary leak syndrome — a rare disorder characterized by a dramatic drop in blood pressure.
In the past two years, Maguire has had five more suspicious moles removed, from her breast, arm, leg, and back.
She sees her dermatologist every three months for full-body checks.
“I’m just living in fear of the next mole coming now,” she sighed. “There’s a high probability that the skin cancer could come back at every point.”
Reflecting on her health battles, Maguire says a “tan is not worth” what she’s been through.
She said she’s angry and could “give myself a slap” for using tanning beds.
“I’m now pale white. I don’t look like myself — it was all down to wanting tanned skin that you can literally buy from a bottle,” she shared.
“Twice I’ve been on my deathbed, and my son could’ve been left without a mommy,” Maguire continued. “I’m still scared that wanting a tan might kill me eventually.”
Maguire’s comments come as Kim Kardashian, 43, recently defended herself from criticism for having a tanning bed in her office. She says it helps her psoriasis.