Tuesday, March 27, 2007

SunSavvy Joe

Speaking of the importance of providing consistent, accurate, and specially-tailored sun safety educational messages, here is another wonderful example that reminded me that it really does make a difference.

Last summer, a neighbor of ours named Joe would come over to our apartment quite frequently. Joe is a special guy. He is developmentally challenged, but has a great laugh, and a great spirit. In the beginning, Joe would come over to our apartment because he had a crush on my best friend (who, obviously, was one of my room-mates). He would always ask her to go on walks together around the block in the warm summer afternoons just before dusk.
Joe simply adored my best friend,. He would always mention her "long blond hair, blue eyes, and pretty skin." It is true. My buddy has the most lovely cornsilk blond hair, amazingly big and beautiful aquamarine eyes, and the most perfect milky fair skin. (That's because she always protects her radiant skin with ample amounts of sunscreen).

Eventually, Joe developed a fondness of all five of us girls in apartment #12 (not just my best friend). He would come over frequently. Though, he never asked me to go on walks with him, he always asked me about sun safety. It all started because Joe works outside, and I made mention to him about how concerned I was with how much sun exposure he was receiving each day. And thus a daily tradition of sun safety education began...

Joe would come over each day to show me how well he was protecting himself from the sun. It first started with the sunscreen application. (You could tell he had put it on because it wasn't quite rubbed in hence leaving a white film on his arms and face that provided proof). Then it was his growing collection of wide-brimmed hats and selection of sunglasses. Joe would often ask me the same question multiple times. "How does sunscreen work again? How often do I need to put it on? It says UV 400 on my sunglasses, is that good? Is this thing on my skin a skin cancer?"

At first, the five of us thought that, perhaps, that Joe needed reminding. One day; however, when I was coming home early from work to take care of my buddy/room-mate who was sick, I saw him talking to one of our other neighbors about sunscreen application, etc. He could have easily qualified to be my co-host for the Conversations with Cancer show and talking about skin cancer prevention. Nevertheless, Joe would still come over to our apartment and ask me questions - many of the same questions - about skin cancer and sun safety.

To encourage Joe for his sun safety behavior, we would take pictures of him in his different wide-brimmed hats and reward him by inviting him to watch movies with us (though, he would usually want to talk about sun safety midway through the movie. I discovered that saying my roomies and I would go for walks or bring him tasty treats usually worked better). We did this not to bribe him, but rather reward him for his efforts. He would get so excited to come over and show us how well he was doing at being SunSavvy. These positive affirmations were to merely reinforce that "good behavior" so to speak.

Alas, the sweet summer days ended and the craziness fall semester kicked in high gear. We never saw Joe again.

That is, until this past Sunday.

I was taking a plate of treats over to my best friend's sister and brother, when I ran into Joe. He recognized me as I was crossing the street and yelled "Hey! I know you!" And, as you may have guessed, he proceeded to hammer out a lengthy list of questions about skin cancer and sun safety. I asked him, "So, Joe, I guess this means you have continued to be diligent about putting on your sunscreen, right?" "Well, no." "Why not?" "Because you're not around to bring me Blue Lizard bottles anymore and I know that's the only stuff that's good. If you were around still to give me Blue Lizard, I would know to put it on a half hour before I leave my house. And I would know to put it on again all the time." "What's all the time - do you remember how often you should reapply it? Remember, you work outside all day, so how often should you reapply that sunscreen?" "Each hour," he said. "That's right, Joe! Very good! You remember!"

Needless to say, talking with Joe on Sunday was a special little treat for me.

He remembered, though many months have passed (seven to be exact), everything he learned about sun safety and skin cancer prevention from the five silly room-mates who lived in apartment 12.

Now, if only I can get everyone I know to not only remember what they have learned but to put it into practice - all day, every day, all year round. ;)

Hope you all have SunSavvy day,

Thursday, March 22, 2007

A Cancer-Free Honeymoon

Something very unexpected, yet extremely exciting happened the other day that proved to me that consistent sun safety educational messages do, indeed, make a difference. It also reminded me that miracles really do happen.

Before I share with you this story, allow me to provide a bit of background -

Last summer (I can't believe that was almost a year ago), I bought a gallon jug of Blue Lizard Australian Suncream for our cozy little college-style apartment. I did this so neither one of my four room-mates could find a reason to not apply sunscreen (and reapply it) before leaving to going outside. I provided each of them with a travel-sized tube to fit nicely in their stylish purses, but wanted to make it easier for them; to provide a way that they would not forget to slather on the sunscreen and therefore protect themselves from the intense Utah sun.

One room-mate - my best friend Melissa - describes it this way: "To the chagrin of interior decorators everywhere she put it beside the front door so as to make daily [sunscreen] application a more convenient part of our lives." (Read the afterword of the book to get the full description).

Three of the four room-mates were good to slather on the sunscreen. Though, one of those three claim it was because she didn't want to deal with my "freaking out over a sunburn". Yet, there was one room-mate was so darn stubborn about the sunscreen usage. She simply refused to wear sunscreen. She refused to do anything about sun protection. Moreover, she refused to refrain from achieving a "nice shade of brown".

(Just imagine how I cringed to hear her say that).

Truth be told, if you live with me, work with me, or associate in any way, it is safe to bet that you will receive an extensive education on skin cancer prevention, sun safety, the dangers of tanning, dermatology, choosing a sunscreen that works; how to maximize its efficacy (proper application), etc.

Despite this, however, I failed to convince this one room-mate that she needed to be SunSavvy, or at least forgo the tanning.

That is, until Monday March 19, 2007. She called me at work around 10:00 a.m. She was at the grocery store. "Danielle, I am looking at all of these sunscreens and I'm not finding any of the ingredients you told us to look for. Zinc oxide, right? Can you tell me which ones here at the grocery store would be good? I can't seem to find a good sunscreen here that has all the stuff you told us were essential." I told her that, quite frankly, none of them were going to be what she needed. "I thought that SPF 30 was the best. Why do someone of these say SPF 50? I thought there really was no such thing as a SPF 50?" Once again, I reminded her that she could look through every brand and still not find the sunscreen that she really needed. "This upsets me. People are coming to the store to get sunscreen to protect themselves and not getting what they think they're getting. Why does this happen? How is this right?" I informed her that that there is no FDA regulation regarding sunscreens. "Well, that isn't right? That upsets me." "I know, Amy, it is something that I, along with many others are trying to change." Her response: "So that Blue Lizard stuff you're always talking about really is the best stuff out there, isn't it? Could you bring some Blue Lizard with you to the reception tomorrow. I don't want to get cancer on my honeymoon. I'm scared. I don't want get melanoma!!"

(Now imagine my elation).

All this time, my silly, stubborn room-mate, Amy, was actually paying attention! She knew that an effective sunscreen should have, according to Australian standards (which are considered the strictest in the world), ought to have at least 5% of zinc oxide and 5% titanium dioxide. She knew that a sunscreen, in order for it to be effective, should be a broad-spectrum formula (meaning it protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays). She knew about SPF. She knew it...all. And now she was calling me at work, frantic about finding sunscreen before hopping abroad her honeymoon cruise the next day.


Thank you, Amy, for your example. Thank you for showing me that education does, indeed, make a difference. And thank you for protecting yourself and your new hubby. I only want you to be safe, happy, and healthy. And you are! How wonderful!

And here's to each of you. May you also enjoy a lifetime of safety, health, and happiness.


Monday, March 19, 2007

Sunscreen Evanlegist

I live in a town that is sandwiched by two college campuses. It takes me exactly seven minutes to walk up to one of these campuses. It is, in fact, the university my best friend is currently attending. At any rate, I had to run several errands on campus this weekend in preparation for her ballet recital. (She is an amazing ballerina). I usually enjoy my walks up to campus. It gives me time to think and get a little exercise, at the same time. This weekend, with the wonderful spring weather, it was particularly enjoyable to walk up to campus and see the blooming flowers, hear the birds sing, and see people giggling with glee. Spring has a tendency to bring out the lighter, more positive side of people.

That is until you start seeing the campus littered with students laying out in the sun and soaking up the the sun rays, without a bottle of sunscreen in sight.

On Friday afternoon, I counted 42 students basking in the sun. On Saturday morning, I counted another 68. No sunglasses. No wide-brimmed hats. No sunscreen. No protection. We live in Utah! Don't they know that, due to our higher land elevation, we are in closer proximity to harmful ultraviolet radiation? Do they not know that skin cancer, particularly melanoma-- the deadliest form, is affecting more 20-somethings than ever before? Do they not.....know?

There I was walking across campus with my wide-brimmed sun protective hat with the national Skin Cancer Awareness symbol embroidered on the front. I was wearing an orange and yellow summer dress and orange flip flops, but by skin was adequately lathered up with Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen. As I peered through my 100% UV protective sunglasses, at these sunbathers, I became increasingly irritated. I mumbled under my breath, What on earth are you people doing? Sure, this is smart! Let's try to achieve a sunburn or damaging tan as we attempt to achieve a degree. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Why do I take this so personally? Why am I offended when people deliberately fail to protect themselves from skin cancer?

It is not so much that I am personally offended; rather it scares me to think of what could happen to people if they don't properly protect themselves from the sun. It worries me, it frightens me, it makes me want to pull a Red Rider Wagon filled with bottles of Blue Lizard Australian Suncream and pass them out, coupled with a plea "PLEASE PROTECT YOURSELF! YOU OWE IT TO YOURSELF AND TO THOSE WHO LOVE YOU TO PROTECT TOURSELF! YOU CAN ENJOY THE WONDERFUL WEATHER, JUST BE SMART ABOUT IT!"

In sum, this scenario makes me realize, yet again, that there remains, even with recent media reports of the dangers of tanning and ultraviolet radiation, a disparity between an awareness of skin cancer and knowledge about skin cancer. While I was shaking my head in dismay and disappointment, wishing that I could climb on a soapbox and, with a megaphone in hand, talk about the importance of sunscreen, it occurred to me that THIS is the reason why I wrote this book. We need to provide more education to people, especially young adults. We need to do more. There is so much more work to be done. And so, the fight - this "crusade" - continues...

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Blue Lizard runs for skin cancer

Our friend and colleague, Jeff Bedard who is the CEO of Crown Labs (the manufacturers of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream) will be running in the Boston Marathon to raise money for skin cancer prevention education.

We teamed up with Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream in producing the ONLY SKIN DEEP? book which, as you know, will debut shortly.

In the meantime, check out the incredible work Jeff and Blue Lizard are doing on behalf of the skin cancer community. THANK YOU, JEFF, FOR ALL YOU DO!!!! You are a champion; a true crusader!

For immediate release:
March 13, 2007
Keisha Bratton

Running down a dream

CEO to participate in marathon to raise sun safety awareness

When Jeff Bedard completed the 2006 Boston Marathon, his sense of accomplishment ranked among the best moments in his life. He could mark “run full marathon” off his life’s to-do list. He had done it, and raised almost $10,000 for skin cancer education to boot.

“It never really occurred to me that I would run the Boston Marathon period, let alone twice,” said Bedard, CEO of Johnson City, Tenn.-based Crown Laboratories.

Yet, here he is, training intensively as he prepares for a second run – so to speak – in what he calls an athlete’s “holy grail.” But it’s more than a personal goal. Bedard runs for a cause.

“I have a number of friends who have been touched by melanoma,” he said. “One of my friends lost his 21-year-old brother to melanoma, and another close friend lost his 64-year-old father to melanoma. I am not sure you can find anyone who doesn’t know someone with skin cancer. And it’s so sad because 95 percent of skin cancers are preventable.”

Crown Laboratories’ flagship product is Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen, one of the top dermatologist-recommended protection products on the market. Made with transparent Zinc Oxide, Blue Lizard effectively blocks UVA rays, the cancer-causing ones, in addition to UVB rays, the ones that cause sunburn.

While Bedard is in the business of selling sunscreen, his primary objective is to help eliminate skin cancer. That’s why Blue Lizard does not make any product below an SPF 30+. That’s also why he takes the company’s partnership with The SHADE Foundation of America so seriously.

SHADE was founded by Shonda Schilling – wife of Boston Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling – after surviving multiple melanomas. Its purpose is to eradicate skin cancer through the education of children and the community and the promotion of sun safety. Schilling herself runs in the marathon as well.

“Jeff shows the type of leadership that we wish all executives had,” Schilling said. “He demonstrates that you can be outside in the sun and still protect yourself. … We are hoping to raise $75,000 this year at the Boston Marathon, and Jeff’s efforts will aid us tremendously.”

“Skin cancer is the most common and fastest-growing form of cancer,” Bedard said. “How insane is that when it’s almost always preventable? Supporting The SHADE Foundation is the best way I know to get the message out to parents and kids that sun protection is absolutely necessary, every single day.”

Once people see the statistics and understand the severity of the situation, it doesn’t take them long to get on board, according to Bedard.

Graig Hoffman is one of those people. Hoffman, an executive at Bristol Motor Speedway in Bristol, Tenn., has worked with Bedard for several years now. Blue Lizard is the Official Sunscreen of Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I have become educated on the effects of sun damage and skin cancer and have seen the efforts of The SHADE Foundation first-hand,” said Hoffman. “I knew I wanted to get involved. Then Jeff and The SHADE Foundation extended an invitation to me in late August. I had a decision to make. I saw an opportunity to personally get involved in the cause of The SHADE Foundation, and I wanted to challenge myself personally to complete a goal that I viewed as unattainable.”

Hoffman, a former 300 lb. football player, knew the training would not be easy. Running just 2 or 3 miles at a time could be difficult, even 100 pounds lighter.

“Slowly but surely my stamina has increased,” he said. “As I am hitting distances of 20 miles, I am beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Bedard knows how Hoffman feels, and the satisfaction that will come on April 16, 2006.

“I was on pace for a sub-4-hour marathon until mile 19, then it hit me like a freight train,” he said of his inaugural marathon. “For the next 7 miles, I had to tell myself to pick up my foot and throw it forward. There were two things that kept me going though: The first was that I knew if I didn’t finish, then SHADE wouldn’t get any of the donations I raised. And the second was there was no way I was going to let my kids down -- they were waiting for me at the finish line, and I was going to be running as I crossed it.”

Bedard, Hoffman and The SHADE Foundation hope everyone will think about the severity of skin cancer and will make a contribution towards their efforts. All monies raised will be used for skin cancer awareness and education.

For more info, check out www.bluelizard.net.

Monday, March 12, 2007

An anxious author airs it all out

I received an email from my publisher today that said "everything with the book is going extremely well, and you should receive your first copy of the book within two weeks." She was referring to the type-setting, formatting, and binding of the book. I did, however, ask to make a few extra corrections (for the sake of accuracy and in legal purposes - I want to make sure proper photo credits, are given, and quotes are cited. I am desperately paranoid that I may have, however unintentional, inadvertently missed something pertinent or pressing along the way which strikes panic within my bosom and forces me to wake up in terror intermittently through the night. Yes, indeed, I am a worry wart! Ask anyone and they will attest to this fact). In doing so, I may, have pushed that back another week. Nevertheless, the point is that I will have a tangible copy of the published book arrive at my door step within a matter of weeks.

I think my friends, and fellow Cancer Crusaders, are more excited than I am about the forthcoming book. I, on the other hand, am petrified. This is not to say that the ONLY SKIN DEEP? is not a worthwhile resource guide. It is certainly is a worthwhile educational resource on skin cancer. It is not the book itself that I doubt, it is, well, the anxiety of an author who stands on the threshold of her very first book being published. Oh, and, there is my incessant worry. I am like a mother who always wonders if she remembered to include a comprehensive, accurate, up-to-date list of instructions and contact information for her child's baby-sitter. Did I remember to include that? Did I give her the right phone number? Because, if not, something could go seriously wrong and I have, therefore, failed...

I break into sweats and shutter at the thought that I neglected to give proper credit, or neglected to fix a typo, or that there are any mistakes in the book - however slight they may be. I am a perfectionist. My best friend told me recently "Danielle, if there is a typo, and I'll be honest, there are typos, it's okay. Everything will turn out, Danielle. Don't worry. You put everything you have into this book. And, if there are mistakes in this book, you can always make it right in the second edition." Don't you just love how Heavenly Father places certain, specific people in our lives? Knowing that I am a worrywart, He sent me a buddy who is a perpetual optimist.

Speaking of optimism -

On a bright note, I set out to write a book about skin cancer and, against all the odds and amid the trials, the book has been written and will debut in a few weeks.

Thank you all those who helped make this book possible. Thank you, Melissa, of course, to Blue Lizard Australian Suncream (best sunscreen on the planet), and to each of the melanoma foundations who dedicate their time, talents, and their lives to fighting this disease. Thank you to each of YOU. With you, this book would not have been possible.

With Gratitude,

Talk About An Adventure

At the moment, I am in the process of combing through the final set of proofs to send back to the publisher for printing. I can't believe that this is really going to happen. We have a book - our first book - about skin cancer, coming out in less than two months. The final product will be shipped in three weeks. And it will debut on Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble, and Borders come May 1st to commemorate national Skin Cancer Awareness month. After two years of planning, interviewing, writing (and re-writing), hiccups, hangups, struggling, transcribing, collaborating, researching, brainstorming, editing, and praying, the book will soon be a reality. I can hardly believe it. Miracles happen.

My best friend, Melissa (who wrote the Afterword), and I went to Ottavio's to celebrate the book being sent off to the publisher. She asked me how it felt to be done with the book. I told her that I was far from "being done with the book". While the bulk of the work is, indeed, done; the book has been written, there are endless nights of worrying about how the book will be received by the public? Will the individuals I interviewed, featured, and honored in the book be happy with the final product? Will our sponsor be happy with it? Will the public receive the book well? Will be be able to fulfill our promise of sending copies of the book to every university in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Utah (the "high risk " states for skin cancer)? Did we catch any/all typos? Did we cite and quote our sources correctly? Did we write and produce a book that will actually help people, not harm them? Questions. Listless questions. The worrying never ceases, thus my work is never done.

In short, this book has been an adventure wrought with a broad spectrum of emotion (no, we aren't talking about sunscreen right now - though, the book does address the subject of proper application of a broad-spectrum sunscreen that protects against both UV-A and UV-B rays). Amid roadblocks,challenges, and tears, there have also been blessings - the blessing of new friendships and bonds, the blessing of new insights and learning experiences, the blessing of serving and educating others. And, quite frankly, that is what this book is about - it is about serving the skin cancer community. It is about educating young adults about protecting themselves from a common, yet very preventable cancer. It is about honoring those who have been touched by this disease and inspiring others. It is about saving lives.

Many of the emails I have received regarding this book have been about how much I was paid (or will be paid) to do this book. I can say, in all honesty, that I did not receive any monetary compensation for this book. I undertook the project because I felt there was a need to assemble a unique and comprehensive resource guide for young adults and thus teach them about skin cancer prevention. Thus, in between work and church obligations, I began writing this book. After we have distributed more than 1,000 complimentary copies of the book to universities and melanoma foundations, we will utilizing the proceeds from book sales to go back to the cause. All proceeds generated will go back to the cause.


Well, to put it rather simply, that is the way it should be - a book about skin cancer should support efforts to combat skin cancer.

That said it is genuine hope that will represent, honor, and serve the skin cancer community well. It is my sincere prayer that this book will be a tool to help save lives from skin cancer, and a launchpad towards furthering our goal to eradicate skin cancer from the earth.

In closing, thank you for your interest and support. Don't forget to schedule an appointment with your dermatologist. If you don't have one, log on to www.aad.org and find a board certified dermatologist nearest you.

Until next time, here's to your health and happiness!