A “Dancing With the Stars” pro is opening up about a cancer diagnosis that she chose to keep a secret at the start of her career.
As Witney Carson prepared for the biggest break in her career, she found out that a mole that she had removed from her foot had tested positive for melanoma. In a 2019 article by the Skin Cancer Foundation, Carson had just gotten the call to join the cast of DWTS for her first season as a pro in 2008.
Both of her parents had been previously diagnosed with melanoma, making things that more serious for Carson.
“If you have a first-degree relative who’s had melanoma, your risk of getting it is almost double,” she told the outlet at the time. Just weeks before she was slated to join the new season of the popular reality dance competition show, Carson underwent surgery. She called the recovery “the most devastating, depressing three weeks of my entire life.”
In July 2022, Carson chatted about her diagnosis — and her decision not to tell any DWTS producers about it — with People magazine.
Here’s what you need to know:
Carson Said She Was ‘Embarrassed’ About the Diagnosis & Didn’t Tell Producers — or Her Partner
When Carson got the call to join DWTS she was super excited — but there was something looming over her. Her recent melanoma diagnosis was throwing a wrench in her plans, but she was determined to get it taken care of and compete on national television.
“Being myself, I’m like ‘It’s fine. I can still go on the show,'” Carson told People magazine.
“I think I was embarrassed only in the fact that I was an athlete and I was supposed to be encompassing everything healthy and fit. I was supposed to be doing all the right things to be an athlete, and so it was embarrassing for me to be like, ‘Yes, I had, I was sick. I was literally sick.’ The producers didn’t know. My partner didn’t know. I wanted people to think I was perfectly healthy,” she shared.
She showed up at her first day of rehearsals with Cody Simpson and had her foot stitched up and wrapped. However, after running the choreography, Carson “ripped [her] stitches open.”
“I had to get my foot wrapped every week after I did the live show. So if you go back through the videos, you’ll see my left foot wrapped in gauze,” she recalled.
Despite her injury, Carson and Simpson ended up making it about mid-way through the competition. They were eliminated 9th.
Carson Has Been an Advocate for Skin Cancer Awareness
Although Carson didn’t speak out about her melanoma diagnosis straight away, she’s very open about talking about it now and she’s been an advocate to anyone who needs a reminder of the importance of skin checks — and sunscreen.
“Don’t make the mistake I did and think you’re invincible—it’s important to take precautions,” she says,” Carson said in an interview with Self in 2018.
In her 2022 interview with People, Carson talked about the importance of sunscreen and admitted that she no longer tans in tanning beds.
“I have not set foot in a tanning bed since I was diagnosed, which was 19. I have not set foot in it,” she said.
Carson is speaking out now because she has joined forces with EltaMD Skin Care for their Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes campaign.