Keeping a big secret. Witney Carson didn’t tell Dancing With the Stars producers that she had been diagnosed with skin cancer “for a long time” in order to avoid jeopardizing her debut on the show.
“It’s actually a really crazy story. Right at the same time I got my diagnosis I was also auditioning for Dancing With The Stars,” the professional dancer, 28, told New Beauty in May about learning that she had melanoma in 2014. “That was my dream since I was 7 years old. And then I had the chance to be on the show and I had this melanoma on my foot, so I didn’t tell anyone — even the producers — for a long time.”
Carson underwent surgery to remove the cancerous mole just three weeks before rehearsals began for season 18.
“My first partner was Cody Simpson, and I didn’t even have the OK from my doctors at that point to do any form of exercise on my foot at all,” the So You Think You Can Dance alum — who welcomed son Leo in January 2021 with husband Carson McAllister — recalled. “I also had an incision on my hip because the cancer had spread to lymph nodes in my hip, so my foot and my hip were still recovering.”
She continued: “I found a wound care specialist in LA and I wrapped my foot every week in rehearsal going forward, and still, no one knew. I found a way to make the show happen and take care of my health. It was a crazy time.”
Carson, who has since partnered with EltaMD in order to raise awareness about skin cancer, confessed that she “was using tanning beds and not wearing sunscreen or protecting my skin at all” before her diagnosis.
“[The mole] was on [the] top left side of my foot and a little bit misshaped, but the most important thing is that it was growing. My mom was hypersensitive because both of my parents had melanoma, so it ran in the family. But of course being a teenager in high school, I just thought I was invincible,” the DWTS season 19 champion explained. “I wasn’t really worried, but then we got the results back and they were positive for melanoma.”
Now, Carson is vigilant about applying sunscreen daily — especially on her feet and other frequently neglected areas. “It’s kind of crazy that my skin cancer was on my foot because that’s kind of the last place you think of to apply [sunscreen],” she said. “There are always those quirky little spots, like your scalp, your eyelids, your lips, your feet. It’s important to get all the little nooks and crannies.”
Keep scrolling to find out more about Carson’s experience with skin cancer: