Friday, April 27, 2007

Contact Your Governors Re: Skin Cancer Awareness

Here is a challenge to each of you; a call to action, as it were -

Last year I contacted all 50 U.S. Governors asking them to declare a state-wide celebration of national Skin Cancer Awareness Month (which is in May), and thus actively support skin cancer prevention education efforts.

38 of the 50 Governors responded favorably. Several others stated that their policy was/is to only accept Declarations submitted by citizens of their respective states.

So, this year, in addition to contacting each U.S. Governor, I am asking YOU to help me out, by submitting a request, as well. Please find the both the email address and mailing address to the governor of your state on

And then send them the following Declaration:

Declaration of Skin Cancer Awareness Month – May 2007

Whereas, skin cancer is the most common and fast growing cancer in the world, with more than 1.3 million new cases diagnosed in the United States annually according to the American Academy of Dermatology.

Whereas, melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—kills one person every hour in the United States.

Whereas, melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer—is the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer among women ages 25-29 and second most common cancer among women in their 30s.

Whereas, skin cancer is caused, overwhelmingly, by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation from the sun and from tanning beds, it is largely preventable. 95% of skin cancers are preventable, if we properly protect ourselves from UV rays.

Whereas, 80% of one’s lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18, it is imperative that we instill sun safety behavior among our children at an early age and thus incorporate sun safety education in our public educational system.

Whereas, The Cancer Crusaders Organization, an award-winning non-profit skin cancer education facility – the proud home of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol© -- strongly urges all Americans to become proactively engaged in efforts to protect our children and young adults from this common, yet preventable disease.
Whereas, The Cancer Crusaders Organization asks for the enthusiastic and proactive support of our educators, health professionals, and leaders to support initiatives and other such efforts to encourage sun-safe practices among our community, and therein significantly reduce skin cancer incidence and mortality throughout the United States and thus improve the overall quality of life.

Now, I ____________, Governor of the State of ____________, hereby declare May 2007 as Skin Cancer Awareness Month.

The more we ask for support from our elected leaders, the more progress we will make melanoma research, sun safety education, research, indoor tanning regulations, dermatologic health care, environmental protection, and other issues pertinent to the reduction and eventual eradication of skin cancer.

Thank you for taking a proactive step in helping us raise awareness and save lives from skin cancer!

Keep Crusading,

Dermatologists Best at Spotting Melanoma

While surfing the net for different skin cancer-related news and to monitor the press coverage on the ONLY SKIN DEEP? Book, I found the following article that states dermatologists are the best (and the only truly qualified) at spotting and treating melanoma. This is a point that I stress often, especially when giving sun safety presentations. I also explain this, at length, in the ONLY SKIN DEEP? Book. I am constantly urging my co-workers, friends, neighbors, and college students to seek a dermatologist. A GP simply does not have the specialized training that a dermatologist does when it comes to preventing, diagnosing, and treating skin cancer, especially melanoma - the deadliest form.

Here's the article that I found that reiterates the aforementioned point:

(April 27, 2006 - HeathDay News) - Getting melanoma diagnosed by a dermatologist rather than a non-specialist could boost a patient's odds for long-term survival, a new study finds.

Researchers at Emory University School of Medicine in Atlanta studied 1,467 patients with melanoma diagnosed by a dermatologist and 553 melanoma patients diagnosed by a non-dermatologist.

On average, tumors diagnosed by dermatologists were thinner than those diagnosed by non-dermatologists -- 0.86 millimeters vs. 1 millimeter thick. When a melanoma tumor is still relatively thin (less than 1 millimeter), patients have a 90 percent cure rate.

Patients diagnosed by a dermatologist also had better survival rates.

"The two-year and five-year survival rates were 86.5 percent and 73.9 percent for the dermatologist group compared with 78.8 percent and 68.7 percent for the non-dermatologist group," the study authors wrote.

"These results suggest that increasing access to dermatologists, particularly for older patients who have higher rates of melanoma, may represent one approach to improving melanoma-related health outcomes from a health policy perspective," they concluded.

The study appears in the April issue of the journal Archives of Dermatology.

Melanoma is the most serious type of skin cancer, and can be fatal. Each year in the United States, more than 53,600 people learn they have the disease. In some parts of the world, especially Western countries, melanoma is becoming more common every year. In the United States, for example, the percentage of people who develop melanoma has more than doubled in the past 30 years, according to the National Cancer Institute.

So, there you have it. Dermatologists are the best!

For more information, check out the official site of the American Academy of Dermatology at

If you are a fellow Utahn, a complete list of board certified dermatologists practicing in Utah, along with their contact information, are listed on

With that, go give a pat on the back to your favorite dermatologist today (and while you're at it, schedule your full body skin exam!)


Thursday, April 26, 2007

The Coast is Clear - A testament to skin exams

As many of you know, I went in to the dermatologist for my regular full body skin exams and had two suspicious moles excised and sent to the pathologist for biopsy.

Three weeks later, the report has come back and the coast is clear. The moles were/are benign. I will be going back to the dermatologist on May 3rd for surgery to remove two additional moles on my back, one on my leg, and one on my scalp. As I told my best friend, I'm confident that these moles will also come back benign (non-cancerous). Isn't it nice to have peace of mind?

So, to all readers, I strongly urge you start performing your monthly self skin exams and visit your dermatologist at least once a year. You, and your loved ones, will be glad you did. As national Skin Cancer Awareness month approaches, now is a good time to make that commitment to be proactive about your dermatologic health.

Not sure how to properly perform a self skin exam? Here's the process, as explained by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Step-by-Step Self-Examination
What you will need:

* A bright light
* A full-length mirror
* A hand mirror
* 2 chairs or stools
* A blow dryer
* Body maps
* A pencil

1. Examine your face, especially the nose, lips, mouth, and ears — front and back. Use one or both mirrors to get a clear view.

2. Thoroughly inspect your scalp, using a blow-dryer and mirror to expose each section to view. Get a friend or family member to help, if you can.

3. Check your hands carefully: palms and backs, between the fingers and under the fingernails. Continue up the wrists to examine both front and back of your forearms.

4. Standing in front of the full-length mirror, begin at the elbows and scan all sides of your upper arms. Don’t forget the underarms.

5. Next focus on the neck, chest, and torso. Women should lift breasts to view the underside.

6. With your back to the full-length mirror, use the hand mirror to inspect the back of your neck, shoulders, upper back, and any part of the back of your upper arms you could not view in step 4.

7. Still using both mirrors, scan your lower back, buttocks, and backs of both legs.

8. Sit down; prop each leg in turn on the other stool or chair. Use the hand mirror to examine the genitals. Check front and sides of both legs, thigh to shin; ankles, tops of feet, between toes and under toenails. Examine soles of feet and heels.

What to look for?

A = Asymmetry: melanoma lesions are typically asymmetrical, whereas benign moles are typically round and symmetrical.

B = Border: melanoma lesions frequently have uneven or irregular borders (ie, ragged or notched edges), whereas benign moles have smooth, even borders.

C = Color: melanoma lesions often contain multiple shades of brown or black, whereas benign moles are usually a single shade of brown.

D = Diameter: early melanoma lesions are often more than 6 mm in diameter, whereas benign moles are usually less than 6 mm in diameter.

E = Elevation. If a typically flat mole, becomes raised this is also a cause for concern. (E also stands for evolution - if a mole is changing, or a new mole appears, call your dermatologist immediately).

You can also learn more about this by getting your own copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources today on,, or

Here's to checking ourselves (our skin) out!


Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Top 10 Reasons Why Blue Lizard is the Best

In addition to the semi-regular spotlights on valiant skin cancer crusaders, I will be doing a "SunSavvy Top 10 List".

Today, we will be talking about the top 10 reasons why Blue Lizard Australian Suncream is the best. Before we explore these reasons, I would like to begin with a disclaimer of sorts. We, at The Cancer Crusaders Organization, refrain from endorsing products and keep our alliances with other organizations purely based on a shared commitment to providing quality skin cancer prevention education. I have received several emails regarding the fact that I have teamed up with Crown Labs and Del-Ray Dermatologicals (the manufacturers and distributors of Blue Lizard Australian Suncream). A few people have expressed concerned that they paid me to do the book and/or promote them. Rest assured I did not and will not receive any monetary compensation for the work I do with Cancer Crusaders. The Blue Lizard logo appears on the back of the Only Skin Deep? Resource Guide chiefly because well, they are the best sunscreen on the planet and since the book is about effective skin cancer prevention resources, it seems only fitting to partner with them on such an important, informational, and essential project. That said, here are the Top 10 reasons why Blue Lizard is, quite simply, the best stuff on the planet! (In my personal and professional opinion).

* Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream is the only sunscreen made in the United States that strictly adheres to the guidelines set by the Australian government on sunscreen ingredients. With melanoma being the number one malignancy in Australia, it is a well known fact that Australians are leading the world in sun protection/skin cancer prevention. As such, they have set strict standards regarding sunscreen ingredients so as to ensure they provide optimum protection and safety. Blue Lizard Australian Suncream contains 5% titanium dioxide and 10% zinc oxide, thus making it a broad-spectrum formula that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.

* Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream is SPF 30, which means that it provides 98% protection. Other sunscreens that claim to be SPF 45 or 50 are actually misnomers. Technically, you can't have a formula that is molecularly more potent (or effective) than a SPF 30. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends sunscreens that are SPF 30 (with SPF 15 minimum).

* Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream makes non-toxic sunscreen that is safe enough for sensitive skin and young children. And since 80% of one's lifetime sun damage occurs before age 18, it is especially important that we protect our children with proper sunscreen.

* The CEO of Crown Labs/Del-Ray Dermatologicals (the manufacturers of Blue Lizard) is actively involved with skin cancer prevention efforts. I always see the CEO, Jeff Bedard, at meetings of the National Coalition for Sun Safety at the American Academy of Dermatology. He runs in the Boston Marathon to raise money for sun safety education efforts at the SHADE Foundation. He is present at every event his company hosts, including free skin cancer screenings at NASCAR, and has teamed up with not only Cancer Crusaders and SHADE, but the Women's Dermatologic Society, as well. In short, the CEO of Blue Lizard is actively involved with communities across the nation, works in cooperation with other organizations dedicated to the cause, and has invested personal time, energy, and heart toward serving others touched by skin cancer. Talk about an example of integrity, sincerity, and commitment. Jeff makes sure Blue Lizard is the best because he truly cares about protecting people from skin cancer, not just because it pays the bills.

* Blue Lizard is not sold in grocery stores, and therefore avoids having to compromise its formula. At the present time, the Food and Drug Administration does not regulate sunscreens; there are no mandates requiring that sunscreens actually provide the level of protection that they presumably claim to provide. This is why often times consumers will say that they slapped on the sunscreen and still "got burnt". (This is also due to the fact that we are rarely taught how to properly apply sunscreen). So, the fact is you will not find a sunscreen at the grocery store that provides the optimum broad-spectrum sun protection that Blue Lizard provides.

* To get a bottle of Blue Lizard you don't have to go through any multi-level marketing programs, networks, or distributors. You can get it directly from them, thus reducing your cost. A bottle of Blue Lizard is comparable to the price of other sunscreens, but works better than the other sunscreens. So, you are actually getting what you are paying for; it provides the protection it claims to provide.

* The sunscreen most board-certified dermatologists will recommend is Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream.

* The Blue Lizard bottle turns blue when exposed to ultraviolet radiation to visually remind you about UV exposure and to apply (and reapply) sunscreen.

* Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream is made for all skin types. For those of us who are of Irish German decent and burn easily, there is a sensitive skin formula. There is a formula made for active athletes and outdoor enthusiasts. And, best of all, there is a Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream formula for children. All Blue Lizard formulas provide optimum protection against UV-A and UV-B rays.

* Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream is non-toxic, it's not greasy, it won't irritate your skin nor your eyes, it's non-comedogenic (won't cause you to break out), is hypoallergenic, does not contain artificial colors, is fragrance free (it doesn't smell flowery yet it doesn't stink either), and is non-toxic.

So, there you have it. Here are 10 (of the many) reasons why Blue Lizard Australian Sunscream is the best stuff on the planet, according to me the skin cancer crusading 20-something author of Only Skin Deep? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. And Blue Lizard didn't even have to pay me to plug their product. It's just that good. I won't leave home without it, and I won't let anyone I love use any brand other than Blue Lizard. In fact, for my best friend's birthday last year, we all went to a water park. I bought a gallon jug of Blue Lizard for everyone to use. No one got burnt that day, even though we were at the water park for six hours. The reason for this is because everyone applied Blue Lizard sunscreen on properly and reapplied it every hour. My best friend's perfect fair skin stayed protected all day long. No one else sustained a burn, either.

Thanks Blue Lizard!

I know all of you are wondering where you can find this amazing sunscreen. Simply log on to

Be SunSavvy,

Friday, April 20, 2007

Only Skin Deep? is a Hot Hit

All the training I learned in college public relations classes has taught me that you should check the status of recent news releases, press releases, and other information about your organization (or, in this case, your recently published book) on the internet, in newspapers, and other forms of media. You should track what people are saying, and how well the word is "getting out there" to the public.

So, for a couple of minutes each day this week I have been performing Google searches about the Only Skin Deep? book. Among the interesting items I found, the one that threw me for a loop (in a good way, that is) was this:

The book is listed #2 in "Best Selling New Releases" on in the category of skin ailments.

My co-workers here at Prosper claim the #1 book was probably featured on Oprah and that's why it is ranked as the top best-seller. (Aren't these men great cheerleaders? They like to torment me relentlessly by calling me the "Cancer Girl" and threatening to come to work with fresh, crisp tans, but ultimately they are very supportive of my skin cancer crusading. How wonderful is that?)

At any rate, I thought you would all like to know that, after only three weeks, Only Skin Deep? is ranked #2 on for "Best Selling New Releases" in the category of skin ailments, as of Wednesday.

Have you purchased YOUR copy of Only Skin Deep? If so, let me know what YOU think.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Ideas to Raise Awareness in Your Community

Today I received several emails from people, touched by melanoma, who asked me for ideas on how to raise awareness about skin cancer prevention in their respective communities.

Albeit for me to project myself as some sort of expert on skin cancer awareness activities, especially when I, like many other "crusaders", run a non-profit voluntarily, in between working a full-time job and with little means and little manpower. Yet, it can be done. One of my mottos is as follows: "When there is a way, there is a way."

This is so true!

With that, here are a few "unique" ideas for you to explore as you spread the word about skin cancer prevention education in your own community.

* Sun Safety Fashion Show. Get your local Miss Titleholder, a group of kids, and host a fashion show featuring sun protective clothing and get young people excited about sun safety.

* Essay Contest. Host an essay contest for middle school, high school, and/or college students about a particular topic related to skin cancer, such as the dangers of tanning. The winner can get their essay published in the local newspaper, magazine, win a cash price/scholarship (donated by a local business sponsor), or whatever other reward you deem appropriate.

* "Ask the Experts" Q&A Panel. Gather a few dermatologists, melanoma survivors, family members, skin cancer educators, and advocates, together to host a public forum/Q&A where concerned community citizens, parents, local leaders, and business owners can ask questions, and get a good conversation going on skin cancer prevention, specifically for your town and neighborhood. It certainly helps put faces to the disease, and make it more "real" to people, and provides for opportunities to network with others who share your passion and concern for this issue.

* Public Service Announcement/Video Contest. Team up with local radio and/or television station and host a contest for the youth in your community - the student who writes/produces the best PSA radio and/or television commercial on skin cancer prevention, will have their winning PSA played on the air throughout the month of May which is national Skin Cancer Awareness month.

Other, more traditional ideas which seem to work well for people are 5k run/walks, support groups, tel-a-thons, and benefit concerts.

At any rate, those are a few of the ideas that I have tried with The Cancer Crusaders Organization, and hence suggested to those who emailed me today. I hope one or more of them prove successful for you as you strive to educate others about skin cancer; to raise awareness and thus save lives. And, don't worry about whether you have a large group of supporters rallying behind you as you lead the skin cancer crusade in your hometown. Don't worry about the lack of resources or manpower. The resources will eventually come. In the meantime, remember the words penned by Margaret Mead:

"Never doubt what a small group of committed, dedicated individuals can do."

Sometimes that small group is comprised of one person, but just think -

Someone, somewhere along the way has to be the one to pave the way and lead others along the path; to inspire others and thus make the world a better place. You can make a difference. You will make a difference. So, keep fighting the good fight! And remember, you are not alone - there are quite a few of us, scattered across the country, who share your passion for fighting this disease and are fighting along with you.

Wishing you the best with all of your endeavors!

Your friend in the fight,

PS: Let me know how they turn out, or if you have additional ideas (or better ideas). Keep me posted on the work YOU are doing to combat the world's most common cancer! After all, it takes a collaborative team effort. So, let's work together!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Making a Difference, One Boss At-A-Time

It must be said that my boss, at my so-called "real job", rocks! He rocks. I really like my boss - he is an honorable, respectable, intelligent, fair, kind, insightful, perceptive, pleasant person to work for and be around. He is, bar none, the best boss on the planet. And now he's the best boss on the planet armed with the best sunscreen on the planet - Blue Lizard Australian Suncream.

On Monday, Mr. Boss Man and I were talking about the book, and subsequently about skin cancer. He told me that his sister has been diagnosed with melanoma, and thus began a long conversation about melanoma skin cancer, dermatologists, sun safety, sunscreens, protection (ideas on how he can get his four-year-old son to be SunSavvy), and other related topics. "So, how can I get some of that Blue Lizard sunscreen you're always talking about," he asked. I jokingly replied: "Well, I do have a gallon jug of it in the Product room. I bought it for the team so that everyone can use it. It's the community sunscreen dispenser!"

Today, just as the Boss Man was headed out the door to begin his weekend, he came by to tell me that he's going up to Huntsman Cancer Institute to get his full body skin exam. "They're having a free skin cancer screening next month, and so I thought that would be the perfect time to get checked out for skin cancer," he said. "Is that a good idea to go to a free skin cancer screening, or should I just get a dermatologist right away?" I told him that the free skin cancer screenings held at the HCI every year are excellent; they are conducted by professional dermatologists, among of which include Dr. Sancy A. Leachman, deputy director of the Tom C. Mathews Jr. Familial Melanoma Research Clinic at HCI. "With melanoma being in your family, she would be an excellent person to talk to, Jeff."

The look on his face looked akin to a little kid who had just been told by his mother that they did a fine job on mowing the lawn. It was almost as if he was thinking "Good! Danielle thinks I'm doing a good thing. I'm going to get screened for skin cancer, and it's a good thing!" He asked me what a full body skin exam entailed and I told him that "they will give you a thorough exam." A sudden look of fright masked his once smiling face. "Thorough, as in thorough?" "Yep! They will look at every inch of you; between your toes, inside your ears, and every other inch of your body. But it's no big deal. Just bite the bullet. I was scared at first, too, but you can do it. You'll be glad you did. And when it's all over, you'll realize that it was easier than you thought it would be, and you'll feel good that you went ahead and got it done." The boss then asked me, "So, you were at the dermatologist last Friday, right? And they took off some potentially cancerous moles off your back, didn't they? So, if they find something suspicious are they going to cut it off right then and there?" I reassured him that if the dermatologists did in fact find a "spot of concern" that they would talk to him about it, and more than likely schedule a follow up visit, unless it was absolutely necessary that it come off "right there and then, because it was melanoma." "Take a look at your skin, Jeff, tonight. And talk to your sister. I'm sure that she can help you determine whether or not you have a spot that is of grave concern and requires immediate attention." Then we joked about how "it ain't right for a married man to ask his sister to help with skin exams." "Yes, yes, I know, but you know what I mean Jeff. Get your wife to help out, too!"

At any rate, the point of this story is that skin cancer prevention education does make a difference. Setting the example for others to follow, does make a difference. And the book, which my boss has already read, is already fulfilling its purpose by assisting others in making informed decisions about their dermatologic health. In all honesty, the fact that my boss's sister has had more than 129 moles removed likely has been the clenching reason behind his decision to go and get his skin examined. Nevertheless, it is reassuring to know that my boss can come to me and talk about his concerns, ask me questions, seek advice, share his thoughts, and respects my opinions about dermatologists, sunscreen (Blue Lizard), and general skin cancer prevention/sun safety. Moreover, it is reassuring to know that he is being proactive about taking care of himself. (I'm sure it's reassuring to his wife and kid, too!)

I challenge each of you to encourage your boss, and fellow co-workers, to become more SunSavvy. What are you going to do to encourage them get a full body skin cancer screening? What ideas do you have for the rest of us that have worked for you, as you have encouraged friends, family, and neighbors to take skin cancer prevention to heart? How can we better reach and teach people about this important issue?

Keep Crusading,

In Memoriam - Charlie Guild

Periodically, I will highlight an individual who valiantly battled skin cancer and pay tribute to them.

Today, I would like to pay tribute to Charlie Guild.

She would have celebrated her 30th birthday last week. And since a good friend, Margaret Merrill (see "It's a Small World After all") just turned 30, my thoughts have been centered on Charlie.

Born Carolyn Guild, Charlie was a vibrant, intelligent young woman; a graduate of Brown University, she was preparing to attend medical school when she was diagnosed with advanced malignant melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer. Eight months after her diagnosis, Charlie passed away. She was just 25-years-old.

Charlie's mother, Valerie Guild, is the founder of the Charlie Guild Melanoma Foundation in California. She is leading this crusade and making incredible strides. Valerie is a tireless champion for the cause; fighting to make sure that melanoma, which is claiming more women in their 20s, is being properly prevented, detected, and treated.

"When this war was over, Charlie intended to go out and do something about this disease, but Charlie didn't get that chance. She didn't leave me with much of a choice," Valerie said. "There's this misconception that melanoma happens to sunbathers or people who go to tanning salons a lot. That's not to say that it doesn't happens to them, but one sunburn between ages 0-to-18 is enough to increase your chances of getting it by 100% [...] it's not a nice disease."

Valerie has been instrumental in securing legislation for indoor tanning regulations, and is working tenaciously on creating tissue banks with various melanoma research clinics such as the Tom C. Mathews Jr. Familial Melanoma Research Clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"Last year AIDS research got $6 billion and melanoma got $40 million from the government. There really is almost no money out there for melanoma research, and one of the problems is when you don't have research money, you don't tend to attract researchers," Valerie said. "I've asked them if they can present this issue in front of [the government], because these kids are at risk."

You can read more about Valerie's efforts, in memory of her 25-year-old daughter Charlie whom she lost to melanoma, in the newly released book entitled ONLY SKIN DEEP?

Help us protect other young people, like Charlie, by supporting skin cancer prevention education and research efforts.

Wishing you abundant health,

The Cancer Crusaders Organization
PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603

* Photo is courtesy of the Charlie Guild Melanoma Foundation.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

New Skin Cancer Resource Now Available

For Immediate Release: April 11, 2007

Contact: Laurel Matsuda

Cancer Crusaders Announce Release of One-Stop Skin Cancer Resource Guide

PROVO, Utah (April 11, 2007) –Just in time for spring, the Utah-based non-profit group - The Cancer Crusaders Organization - announces the release of a practical, comprehensive resource guide to skin cancer prevention and sun safety.

Only Skin Deep? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, was written by Danielle White, founder and president of The Cancer Crusaders Organization, in cooperation with several leading dermatologists. The book features a wealth of information; everything from how to understand and minimize your risk for a future skin cancer diagnosis,, to a listing of viable sun safety programs available, particularly in high-risk states. Utah's risk for skin cancer is the highest in the nation, according to Huntsman Cancer Institute.

"Danielle and her organization have authored this excellent book which serves as an important resource to those who are committed to stemming the tide of skin cancer and melanoma," says Dr. Clay J. Cockerell, clinical professor of dermatology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. Dr. Cockerell, who served as president of the American Academy of Dermatology from 2005 until 2006, wrote the foreword for the Only Skin Deep? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. "I hope you will find this book useful in winning the war against skin cancer," Cockerell says.

With more than 1.3 million new cases of skin cancer diagnosed in the United States each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, skin cancer is a growing epidemic. In fact, every hour another American succumbs to melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer. While skin cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in America, and abroad, it is also preventable.

"As far as prevention goes, it is important to keep in mind that skin cancer is caused, overwhelmingly by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation [so] it is preventable," says Natalie Johnson, co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. Johnson, who is creator of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol© and a former Miss Utah, lost her 21-year-old brother, Eric, to complications associated with a malignant melanoma seven years ago. Her story is one of the several that are featured in the book. "The more I researched this disease, the more I learned that skin cancer is preventable, which, to me, seems like an interesting message. It's a message of hope."

The 260+ page book features interviews from melanoma survivors and families, as well as interviews with several leading dermatologists such as Dr. Sancy A. Leachman and Dr. Glen M. Bowen of Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City. The book is written as a means of teaching people, particularly young adults, about practical methods of skin cancer prevention, as well as encouraging them to becoming actively involved with advocacy efforts to fight this disease. The book also gives useful tips on how to maximize your sunscreen efficacy, and how to build a relationship with your dermatologist.

"The idea to do this book came to me when my co-founder, Natalie, was speaking to the American Academy of Dermatology two years ago, about her brother Eric, whom she lost to skin cancer. I thought to myself, there needed to be a resource for young adults that will not only teach them about skin cancer prevention, but actively recruit them to join the crusade," White says. "The more time I spend working with young adults, the more I realize that we need to pique their interest; to reach and teach them, so that they will then, in turn, raise the next generation of sun-savvy people."

The Cancer Crusaders Organization, thanks to a grant given by Del-Ray Dermatologicals (the manufacturers of Blue Lizard Australian Suncream) will be donating copies of the book to each university in the high-risk states of Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Texas, and Utah. They will also be donating copies of the book to all active melanoma foundations across the country.

"Our chief objective in writing Only Skin Deep? is to educate people; to provide a practical resource for people so that they can make informed decisions about their dermatologic health," White says. "We also hope to raise funds for the continued development of effective skin cancer prevention education programs."

All proceeds from the purchase of Only Skin Deep? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources will go to funding the continued development of skin cancer education programs. The book is available online at and Barnes and Noble.

There will be an official book signing, and educational presentation, on May 31st at 7:00 PM at the Provo City Library. The event is free and open to the public. For details, contact Laurel Matsuda, the event coordinator.


Monday, April 9, 2007

The Word is Getting Out

My publisher sent me the first printed copies of the book. They arrived Friday afternoon. (How fitting, since that was the day I had two suspicious and potentially cancerous moles removed by the dermatologist!)

Upon opening the box, I had to stare at the cover for a few minutes. There was my name, and my best friend's name, plus the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol, on the cover of a published book. Weird.

I then walked to campus to meet up with Melissa, and personally hand deliver a copy to her.

I think she was (is) more excited about the book than I am.

In all honesty, it hasn't quite "sunk in" that we wrote a book. We published a book about skin cancer. We did it. The book is here.

And it would appear that the word is getting out, despite the fact that the official launch date isn't scheduled until May 1st.

Our friends and colleagues at Blue Lizard Australian Suncream emailed me to let me know that they found the book on So, I decided to do a search for it via Google. Here are the links, where YOU can purchase your very own copy of Only Skin Deep? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. (Simply cut and paste the URL into your Web browsers).

To purchase the book from Barnes and Noble:

To purchase the book from

To purchase the book fro A1 Books:

Or, if you prefer, you can order a personalized autographed copy from us directly, which will include a complementary Skin Cancer Awareness pin, by sending a check made out to "Cancer Crusaders" (it's tax deductible) in the amount of $25.00. Please send it to us at:

The Cancer Crusaders Organization
PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603

For more information, questions, comments, etc., please feel free to email us at

Thank you for supporting the fight against skin cancer. We hope that this book will serve as a vital tool in helping protect you, and your loved ones, from a future skin cancer diagnosis. We hope, too, that the young adults - the college students - for whom we wrote the book, will find it to be a source of useful, applicable information and that the book will inspire them to become actively engaged in the cause.

Thank you, again! Be SunSavvy.


Friday, April 6, 2007

It's a Small World after all

Occasionally, the fact that I no longer have a car presents itself to be a real challenge, and not merely an inconvenience.

To see my favorite dermatologist here in Utah, it is an all day adventure. When calculating the amount of time it takes traveling on the bus and the train, combined with the actual length of the appointment, nearly six hours have passed. Taking an entire day off from work to go up to Huntsman Cancer Institute for my annual full body skin exams, is a challenge. My boss would likely be supportive (especially since I'm known at work as the so-called "skin cancer guru"), but I decided that it is probably a good idea to be referred to an equally qualified, board certified dermatologist who is closer to home and/or to work.

The AAD recommended Dr. Richard Parkinson and his partner Dr. Carrie Jackman. When I looked them up, I discovered that their office is but a mere 10 minute walk from work. After interviewing the receptionist, I then looked into whether or not my insurance would cover the cost of the appointment. (By the way, this is the first time in my life that I have had health insurance - it just kicked in this month!) When everything appeared "good to go", I officially booked my appointment with Dr. Jackman. (By the way, even if my insurance wouldn't cover my dermatologist appointment, I would have paid for it out-of-pocket, as I had done previously, because I was due for my yearly skin exam and I have numerous dysplastic nevi - "abnormal moles"- plus a new one! And there simply is no excuse to not go get your skin checked out, especially when you spend your days teaching others about skin cancer prevention!)

So, this morning at 9:30 AM, I walked from my office at Prosper, Inc., fashioning my well worn wide-brimmed Skin Cancer Awareness hat, and slathered in Blue Lizard Australian Suncream, over to Dr. Parkinson's office just 10 minutes away.

I filled out some paperwork, sat down on the couch, read my scriptures, and waited for my new dermatologist to call for me. Suddenly, a voice called, in a pleasant voice, "Danielle, I'm Carrie. It's nice to meet you."

We walked into the exam room; I proceed to take my clothes off and change into a pink medical gown and seat myself atop the exam table. When my new dermatologist came into the room, she asked me: "So, I see that on the paperwork you just filled out that you have a family history of melanoma. Is this new information?" I told her that, while doing family history/genealogy work (it's one of my geeky hobbies), I had found death certificates for my great grandmother and great grandfather (my mother's grandparents) and that said they had suffered melanoma (not at the same time, though, in case you were wondering). I told her that it was rather "interesting", if not ironic, for me to discover that I had a family history of melanoma; I first started doing cancer work - specifically breast cancer - because my mother passed away and that melanoma/skin cancer became a focus only after I met my friend, and fellow Cancer Crusader, Natalie Johnson. Natalie lost her 21-year-old brother, Eric, to complications associated with a malignant melanoma - the deadliest form of skin cancer. I had no idea, until very, very recently, that melanoma ran in my family.

My dermatologist then excused herself (she wanted to go check something on my records). When she came back in a short minute later, she asked me, with a big smile on her face, "Do you know Margaret Merrill?" My reply: "Well, yes! Yes, I know Margaret. The whole world knows Margaret!"

(Note: my friend Margaret, who is a board member here at The Cancer Crusaders Organization, is notorious. She knows everyone on the planet. Whenever we go somewhere together, she runs into someone she knows. And now it appears that I'm running into people that know her, as well).

Talk about the perfect ice breaker. Here I am, sitting naked under a paper thin gown, waiting to be examined by a brand new dermatologist (which, actually, didn't phase me too much but it was still slightly awkward because it was a new environment), and I discover that her and I have a mutual friend.

"It took me a second to realize that you're THE Danielle White from the award-winning Cancer Crusaders organization. It makes sense, though. That Skin Cancer Awareness ribbon on your hat, and the fact that you told the receptionist the reason you were coming in was to have your 'numerous dysplastic nevi examined'. It is really rare that I hear a patient using medical jargon."

So, all the while Carrie is conducting a full body dermatological examination of my skin, we laughed and joked. When she cut off three moles off my back, we were chatting about the scar on my back from when I shattered seven-and-a-half vertebrae due to a sledding accident gone awry (another story, for another blog), and about our concerns with the fact that more women in their 20s are being diagnosed with melanoma.

"We really appreciate people like you, Danielle, and all that you are doing to teach other people about skin cancer prevention. I try to talk to the girls at church who, like you and I, are in the 20s, but they don't really listen because they expect a dermatologist to tell them to get their skin checked out regularly; to take proper precautions. Yet, when you teach people about skin cancer prevention, you are really making a difference. So, we really appreciate all the wonderful work you are doing, and I know the AAD does, too!"

How kind of Carrie to say such things.

More importantly, I genuinely appreciated the fact that she took the time to answer ALL of my questions. She wasn't offended when I asked her about the process by which the moles she took of my back would be handled and biopsied; whose hands would they be in, when would I hear the results of my biopsy, what is the accountability/quality check process and how it is enforced, et. al. Truth be told, she rather enjoyed the fact that I asked about the pathological processes that would take place regarding the three suspicious moles she excised from my back. And when I asked her about the six others that she wanted to surgically remove, she was so forthright and open about EVERYTHING.

"We have to do some surgery on a few other moles, Danielle, and I am going to ask Dr. Parkinson to help me just so that there are two of us making sure we're taking care of you as thoroughly as possible [...] Danielle, with you having so many moles, particularly suspicious ones, and with your family history, we need to make sure that we nip it all in the bud and catch any melanomas in their really early stages. Is it okay that I bring Dr. Parkinson in so that we can give you two pairs of eyes? And can I have you come back in to our office in two weeks?"

Um, YES!


After I got back into my clothes, scheduled my next appointment, and joked around with the ladies at the front desk, Dermatologist Carrie came out and asked about the Skin Cancer Awareness pin on my jacket lapel. She asked for one. I gave everyone at the office a pin, to which each of them promptly affixed it to their lab coats.

"Thank you, again, for all that you are doing, Danielle. You are changing the world for the better. Even if you convince only one person to wear sunscreen, do their self skin exams, and come into the dermatologist's office, you are making the world a better place. You are changing people's lives, for the better."

I realize that the lyric - it's a small world after all really rings true (even at the dermatologist's office). I have a new dermatologist who is professional yet personable, who just so happens to be good friends with one of my friends.

It is, indeed, a small world. What a blessing it is that we are all connected to each other in such pleasantly simple, but wonderful ways!


Don't have a dermatologist? You can find a board certified dermatologist nearest you at Simply, enter your zip code and a listing of qualified, licensed dermatologists will be electronically generated for you. Again, that Web-site is - it's the official site of the American Academy of Dermatology, which is the leading resource for accurate dermatological information, and is representative of more than 14,000 dermatologists.

Wishing you all abundant health, happiness, and an outpouring of love from good friends!

- Danielle.

Monday, April 2, 2007

Taking Care of Business (and myself)

My wonderful, beloved, radiant, brilliant, strong, and amazing mother, Cindy, would have been 52-years-old today. She was born April 2, 1955. Cancer took her from me on January 1, 1995.

I was thinking about my mother, and missing her so much last night, that I struggled relentlessly to fall asleep. At 11:00 pm, I ran down the street and knocked on my best friend's door. I just needed to hug her tightly; to hold her and tell her how much I love and appreciate her. I just needed to hear her tell me (for the millionth time) that she loves and cares about me and that she will always, always be my best friend. You see, I lost my first best friend to cancer. My heart can't bear to lose my other best friend.

(Okay, so I'm a little sappy).

After a hour of chatting, hugging, fighting back tears, reassuring words, and even laughter, I walked back home. It was now midnight. Suddenly, it began to rain. I walked slowly back home, with my face buried in my hands, and upon arriving back home I sat on the front stoop and cried. There I sat in the dark, and in the rain - crying. I cried both happy tears, and tears of sorrow. I cried all night.

When my tear ducts finally dried out, it was after 3:00 AM. I decided to hop in to the shower, hoping a hot shower would make me feel better. As I stepped into the shower, I was greeted both by the self skin exam card and the self breast exam card that I have posted to remind me to conduct my monthly self exams. What better time than while in the shower to check out my birthday suit? And it just so happened that it was [is] mom's birthday, too.

Speaking of birthdays and birthday suits, I made a goal as I turned 28 (just over a week ago), that I was going to be more committed to taking better care of myself. I have always been good to perform my self skin (and breast) exams, slap on the sunscreen, wear my wide-brimmed sun protective hat, and UV protective glasses, but I needed to do more. I need to do more to take better care of myself. We all do.

So, on that note, I will be paying a visit to my dermatologist's office on Friday for my annual full body skin exam. The lady at the office who books the appointments laughed and said "as a skin cancer educator, you should be coming in here." To which I replied: "Oh, I try to practice what I preach. I don't want to be a hypocrite." Her response: "It is good to practice what you preach [but] you should coming in here to see the dermatologist, Danielle, because you want to take care of yourself. The people who love you want you to love yourself enough to take care of yourself, not just to 'practice what you preach'."

And, so, for the first time in my life, I am actually doing things to take better care of myself; not just because I now that my best friend would like it or because people, particularly my students, would think I'm a hypocrite...

It's because each person and their well being is important and precious. Yes, even little ol' me; my life is also precious and worthwhile (despite how seemingly small and insignificant I may feel sometimes).

So, as a birthday present to myself (and to my mom, may she rest in peace), I am taking care of myself because I really want to, and not "just because...."

In addition to that, I am also making it a point to exercise daily. For the last week, I have been biking it to and from work (that's 11 miles a day five days a week). And my refrigerator contents now include the following items: 4 oranges, 5 apples, 3 pears, 10 containers of Yoplait yogurt, 12 bottles of Aquavista Water, a box of strawberries, a bag of light and plain bagels, and a handful of bananas (technically they're on the kitchen counter and not in the fridge). Last June I gave up my Diet Coke, in March I gave up all carbonation and sugar drinks (it's water only, with lemonade only on very special occasions such as my birthday which was a little over a week ago). And now, I am going to see my dermatologist in four days!!!

With that, I hope each of you will take time today to examine your birthday suit -

Make it a priority to conduct your monthly self skin exams and call your dermatologist NOW to begin your annual routine of full body skin checks.

Let us all take better care of ourselves, as well as our loved ones.

Here's to our health!