Two months ago, I was diagnosed with melanoma and a pre-cancerous lesion on the back of my right leg. I am 30 years old and in good health. How could this be possible? The answer may lie in my youthful decision making.

I started tanning before the age of 18, before I was wise enough to listen to the information that is given to us about the dangers of indoor tanning devices and UV radiation – because it won’t happen to me, right?

Over a month ago, I had surgery to ensure that the melanoma and pre-cancerous lesions were removed. I was left with a painful scar 4 inches long. I haven’t used a tanning bed regularly in over six years, but permanent damage has been done.

It’s because of stories like mine that a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, melanoma patients and survivors, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, have banded together in support of L.D. 889, “An Act to Reduce Youth Cancer Risk,” which would prohibit tanning device use for individuals under 18.

Each year nearly 10,000 Americans die from melanoma, and in Maine, an estimated 450 will be diagnosed this year. Despite a recent study showing decreasing melanoma rates across most Northeastern states, Maine has seen no such decline. In fact, we have seen increases in both the incidence of and death rates from melanoma between 2003 and 2013. This session, Maine lawmakers have the opportunity to heed this warning and pass legislation to protect young people from tanning devices.

I urge Maine lawmakers to take my story into consideration, and I hope that it will provide them the proof they need to make the right decision about L.D. 889. This is a necessary step in helping to protect this next generation of Maine’s youth.

Jessica Bedell