Friday, May 25, 2007

Speaking Up

Yesterday, my friend, and fellow cancer crusader, Margaret and I met up together to begin our pre-Pirates party in honor of the newly released Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (one of my guiltless obsessions is Captain Jack Sparrow).

As we were driving to her place, after picking up some delicious Panda Express (another one of my guiltless obsessions), we drove past a popular apartment complex that had a sign that read "Unlimited Tanning".

We were both shocked and appalled. In truth, Margaret forewarned about this shocking advertisement. "Danielle, I drove past this yesterday and got so angry! I thought 'When Danielle sees this she's going to be angry, too!'"

It's good to know that my friends, as a result of their association with me and their involvement with Cancer Crusaders, are now on the prowl for such infractions as "Unlimited Tanning" signs to entice college students to rent apartments.

All morning, while editing mass quantities of documents here at work, I kept thinking "Should I call up the apartment manager and/or BYU Off-Campus Housing and express my grave concerns over this issue of offering unrestricted access to tanning beds to young adults?" I didn't want to come across as antagonistic or annoying, but there are two simple facts that remain: 1). The use of tanning beds does increase one's risk for melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer; 2). Melanoma is killing more women in their 20s than any other form of cancer.

So, I placed a call to the apartment manager.

I was calm, cool, and collected while offering statistics and facts about melanoma and young adults' risk for this deadly disease; how tanning beds do increase one's risk, etc. Imagine my surprise when the apartment manager told me that is a skin cancer survivor (not melanoma). "So, you are acutely aware of the fact that skin cancer is a serious issue, especially for our young adults who, like us, are in their 20s. You understand why I am so concerned about the fact that you provide unlimited access to tannings beds to your residents!" That is when she snapped. "The students who live here understand the risks and it's their option; it's their choice. They have the right to do what they want." "Ma'am, I don't think you realize that these young adults do not understand the risk involved; they do not understand the seriousness of melanoma. Who can I talk to about this, because this is serious. What can we do to protect these students."

Dial tone.

For several years now, ever since I met my good friend and co-founder, Natalie, I have seen signs, billboards, and other advertisements about tanning that have upset me. I have been so tempted to call and voice my concerns, and/or run a letter-to-the-editor and/or PSA in the local newspaper. Yet, I have never actually spoke up to the tanning industry. I have helped fight for legislation regulating indoor tanning here in Utah, to which I received several pieces of "hate mail". I know of friends and colleagues in the skin cancer community who have received threatening letters, emails, and phone calls. In fact, my friend Robin Lawrence - a five time melanoma survivor who works at the Evansville Cancer Center - has even been threatened with legal action if she did not discontinue giving speeches saying that her addiction to tanning beds as a young woman contributed to the fact that she's battling melanoma in her 30s and 40s.

I do not enjoy stirring up controversy or ruffling feathers. On the whole, I get a long well with people. I, generally, prefer to please people. Yet, when it comes to an issue such as protecting people from deadly cancer, I am passionate. I'm emotionally-invested in this, because the health, safety, happiness, and well-being of individuals is extremely important to me. I was raised to speak the truth, to stick up for others, to serve and protect people especially my loved ones, and to fight for what is true and right.

And the irrefutable fact is that ultraviolet radiation, even from indoor tanning facilities, increases one's risk for melanoma skin cancer. It's scientifically true. Consider the surveys and studies conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology.

And if I can protect someone from having to suffer cancer, I will. I couldn't save my mother from cancer, but I can, perhaps, do something to help another individual; to save their life.

For more information about tanning beds - how they work and the relational link to skin cancer, get out and get your copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources on today! (You can also learn more about Robin Lawrence, who I mention here in this Blog).

Remember, this about reducing and eliminating skin cancer. It is about saving lives. This not about attacking other people, their business, or an industry. It is not about ruffling feathers or stirring the pot, so to speak. I believe there is a way to work with each other, even if we are on opposing sides, to facilitate professional two-way (and honest) dialogue and thus create a solution to this epidemic. I believe that it will come when all parties involved are willing to address the facts, be honest, and work hard--together. It is hard work educating people. It is hard work protecting people. Yet, it is an important and vital work. THIS IS ABOUT EDUCATING AND PROTECTING YOUNG ADULTS FROM THE WORLD'S MOST COMMON AND PREVENTABLE CANCER!

That said, here's wishing health to you and yours!

United in the cause,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

"What You Talkin' 'Bout, Danielle?"

It was July 2005. I was crossing the street from my humble little Cancer Crusaders' cubical at Utah Valley State College, to Circuit City to get printer paper, a printer cartridge, and other supplies for a trip to Chicago. (Natalie and I were getting ready for the 2005 Gold Triangle Awards ceremony, where the American Academy of Dermatology honored us for the new, national Skin Cancer Awareness ribbon symbol). As I was crossing the street and heading into Circuit City, I saw a gentleman who looked curiously familiar.

"Is that Gary Coleman," I asked myself. Apparently, I asked that question of myself out loud, because it yielded the following response: "Duh! Yes it is Gary Coleman!"

Imagine that. There was Gary Coleman, best known for his role on the 80s television show Diff'rent Strokes, coming out of the Orem, Utah Circuit City.

Thus began, as you likely guessed, an impromptu discussion on why he chose to live in Utah, and why I was sporting a wide-brimmed hat that read "Skin Cancer Awareness" on it. Here's an excerpt of that conversation:

Me: Did you know that Utah's risk for skin cancer is the highest in the nation?
Gary: That's because there's so many of you white folks around here.
Me: There are a large number of fair-skinned people, but even people with darker skin can get skin cancer. In fact, Bob Marely died of melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer.
Gary: Nah.
Me: It's true. You know you can get one of these great wide-brimmed hats featuring the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol and support a great cause.
Gary: Shoot! I ain't gonna get no wide-brimmed hat. I stick out enough as it is already in this town!
Me: (laughs). Well, you should at least be good about slapping on that sunscreen. Here in Utah, we have more intense UV exposure.
Gary: You kiddin', I ain't gonna get no skin cancer.

I half-expected him to say "What you talkin' 'bout, Danielle!" No such luck.

Yet, despite that, I did have the chance to give a mini lesson on sun safety to, of all people, Gary Coleman.

My friend Kathleen and I were reminiscing about adventures we have had over the past couple of years, and one of the stories she brought up was my encounter with Gary Coleman. "Only you, Danielle, would stop someone in their tracks and try to convert them to the ways of being SunSavvy. Only you would try and sell a Skin Cancer Awareness hat to Gary Coleman!"

Hey, what kind of skin cancer crusader would I be if I didn't try to educate everyone?

What are some of your favorite adventures in teaching people about skin cancer prevention/sun safety? Do you have any stories about sporting the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol that you would like to share? I would love to hear from you!

Until next time, keep crusading.

Yours in the fight,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Skin Cancer Awareness Month 21 years ago

While online conducting a search of recent press releases, stories, blogs, and other posts regarding Skin Cancer Awareness month, The Cancer Crusaders Organization, the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol, and the ONLY SKIN DEEP? Book, I found this Proclamation on Skin Cancer issued by the late President Ronald Reagan:

By the President of the United States of America
A Proclamation

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer, and its incidence is rising. Fortunately, it is also the most preventable form of cancer and the easiest to detect early and treat successfully. The risk of developing skin cancer increases throughout adult life, with the highest incidence occurring among people over 50.

There are two basic types of skin cancer: the common basal cell and squamous cell cancers, and the less common but far more serious type called melanoma. More than 400,000 new cases of nonmelanoma skin cancer are diagnosed in the United States each year. These cancers have a high cure rate, especially with early detection and prompt treatment. Most can be treated in the doctor's office.

Occurrence of nonmelanoma skin cancers varies directly with exposure to ultraviolet light from the sun (and "sun lamps" of various kinds), and indirectly with skin pigmentation. Older Americans can reduce their risk of skin cancer by avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight, particularly if they are fair-skinned; by avoiding exposure during the 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. hours; by wearing protective clothing; and by using sunscreen lotions and ointments. Prudent avoidance of too much sunlight is fully compatible with enjoyment of the great outdoors.

Older Americans may mistake the signs of skin cancer for normal skin changes due to aging, and they should be alert to these signs. Many skin growths are noncancerous, but any new growth on the skin, or a sore that does not heal, should promptly be brought to a doctor's attention. Skin cancer has many different appearances, but it occurs most frequently on sun-exposed areas of the body.

Melanoma is a far more serious health problem, but it also is highly curable when detected and treated early. About 23,000 new cases will be diagnosed this year. Melanoma is also related to exposure to ultraviolet light but not as directly as nonmelanoma skin cancers. Older Americans should be alert for changes in the size or color of a mole or rapid darkening, ulceration or scaliness or changes in the shape or outline of a mole, or development of a new pigmented lesion or bulge in a normal skin area. These are some of the most common signs that may signal melanoma, and a doctor should be consulted without delay.

The American Academy of Dermatology and other dermatologic organizations are committed to educating the public about all types of skin cancers. This year marks the Second Annual National Melanoma and Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Program, a coordinated national effort of professional dermatologic organizations to reduce the increasing incidence of skin cancers and to better control these cancers by prompt diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Now, Therefore, I, Ronald Reagan, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of May 26 through June 1, 1986, as Older Americans Melanoma/Skin Cancer Detection and Prevention Week, and I invite all Americans to observe the week with appropriate programs and activities.

In Witness Whereof, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-first day of May, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and eighty-six, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and tenth.


[Filed with the Office of the Federal Register, 11:21 a.m., May 22, 1986]
Citation: John Woolley and Gerhard Peters,The American Presidency Project [online]. Santa Barbara, CA: University of California (hosted), Gerhard Peters (database). Available from World Wide Web:

I found it interesting that, even though 21 years have passed since this proclamation was issued, skin cancer is still the most commonly diagnosed form of cancer in America and across the globe. And melanoma, which is the deadliest form of skin cancer, has increased by nearly 6000% in past 50+ years. Truly, this is cause for alarm. We need more resources, more education, and research, and more attention dedicated to the prevention and eventual eradication of this unneccessary epidemic.

There is, indeed, still much work to be done!!!

That said, I want to express my thanks to the Governors who have called me in response to my request to declare celebrations of Skin Cancer Awareness month, in every state across the nation, throughout the month of May. Thanks, also, to the local city mayors here in Utah who have issued declarations in their respective communities - Provo, Orem, Kayesville/Fruit Heights, Murray, and Cedar City, Utah. This is of particular significance since Utah's risk for skin cancer is the highest in the nation.

Thank you to all of you who are devoting time, talents, and energy toward raising awareness and educating others about this common, yet preventable disease! Thank you! Let us continue to combine forces and work together to crusade against skin cancer.

To learn more about skin cancer prevention and to find a melanoma foundation nearest you, check out ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources available on


Thursday, May 10, 2007

Fantasy Fundraiser

Recently the hip-hop dance team, Club Style, from Brigham Young University volunteered to organize a fundraiser for The Cancer Crusaders Organization. This is the first time I have seen a group of college students (who are our primary target audience) rally together to raise funds for skin cancer prevention, since we were officially incorporated as a non-profit skin cancer facility in January 2004. Club Syle hosted a Dance-A-Thon. Each student recruited sponsors. For every $5.00 donated, they had to dance for an entire hour. The Dance-A-Thon was packed, and was a grand success.

Thank you to my friend Laurel Matsuda, and to the hip-hop dance team at Brigham Young University, for taking a interest and for helping raise funds for the cause!

After the Dance-A-Thon, someone asked me what kind of fundraising event would I love to host in the future. In truth, I would absolutely love to have a benefit concert featuring my favorite singers and bands. Pat Benatar, Fleetwood Mac, Journey, and other favorites, would come and sing their hearts out to a crowd of thousands. And we would release a CD of the live performanc!

I have daydreamed about singing my favorite songs by these artists, with them on stage. It would be the benefit concert to define all benefit concerts. Incredible music and entertainment, thousands of people wearing Skin Cancer Awareness ribbons, and me living out the fantasy of singing my favorite songs with my favorite artists.

Some of the songs I would love to either sing as a duet, or as back up, (or simply be on stage rocking out to) would include:

"Promises in the Dark", "Shadows in the Night" and, of course, "Love is a Battlefield - Pat Benatar (the ultimate girl-power-rocker ever!)

"You Lie", "Is There Life Out There", and maybe "Just a Little Love", - Reba McEntire (her music provided me much comfort during my mother's battle with cancer, and for a couple of years afterward)

"Purple Rain" - Prince (that's the only song by Prince I like/love)

"We Can Last Forever", "You're the Inspiration", or "Look Away"- Chicago (great city, and a great band)

"Faithfully", "Don't Stop Believing," or any other song off Journey's Greatest Hits Album. (Steve Perry, won't you make a guest appearance?)

"Silver Springs" and "Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow" - Fleetwood Mac (gotta love Fleetwood Mac! Buy their album "The Dance")

"Angel" - Sarah McLachlan (the best song writer ever, with Stevie Nicks running as second. They are so gifted with words)

"Winter" - Tori Amos

"Sweet Emotion" - Aerosmith (classic, classic, classic 80s rock band)

"She's My Girl", "Free Fallin'", "Refugee", or "I Won't Back Down" - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (my mom was in to Tom Petty, and Aerosmith, when I was growing up)

"Sweet Child of Mine" - Guns-n-Roses (my mom was also into Guns-n-Roses)

"In This Life" and "Love Me" - Collin Raye (two of the four country songs my mother could stand. Plus, they are sweet, touching songs)

"Stayin' Alive" - BeeGees (good times, folks)

"Sisters Are Doin' It For Themselves" - Eurthymics and Aretha Franklin (go, girls, go!)

Oh, and there are many others, as well!

And there you have it - that's my Fantasy Fundraiser.

In the meantime, however, you can help raise money for skin cancer prevetion education by purchasing a copy of the newly released ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. When I checked this morning, there was only one left in stock on (more are coming, though). The book is also available on, and as a e-book on

Thanks for supporting the fight against skin cancer!

Rock on,

Monday, May 7, 2007

Calling out all Red Devils

Last night I had a dream that I was asked give a pep talk to the senior class at Nile C. Kinnick High School. There I was standing the middle of the old football field dressed up in my old mascot uniform. "Sparky! Sparky! Sparky!" they all shouted. That was my nick name as the mascot of the Yo-Hi Red Devils. I was the coolest and cutest little red devil you ever saw - Sparky was so cool!

When I woke up this morning, I thought that it odd that I had a dream about my high school alma mater. I rarely ever think about high school. When I was planning a schedule for projects I'm working on for my boss today, it occurred to me that next month would have been my 10 year high school reunion. Alas, because I attended an American high school in Japan and all of us are spread across the globe and no such reunion will be taking place.

So, in honor of the Nile C. Kinnick High School Class of 1997, this is for you:

I am offering each you a free, autographed copy of the ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources to each of my fellow '97 Kinnick classmates. This seems a bit cheesy, if not a bit pretensious, to assume that my classmates would want an free autographed copy of my book, yet I do not do this to brag or boast; rather, I do it as a means of letting each my fellow Red Devils know how much they meant to me during those crazy years in Japan. When I moved to Japan, my mother had recently passed away, there was a considerable amount of mayhem and turmoil going on in my life. Yet, the opportunity of being Sparky the Red Devil mascot gave me a sense of belonging, even purpose. Instead of worrying about my problems, I was able to cheer for, uplift, encourage, support and befriend my peers. Japan was an incredible experience largely due to the fun I had being Sparky. I can still hear my classmates shouting "Sparky! Sparky! Sparky!" as I walk down the halls of Nile C. Kinnick High, in the shadows of Mt. Fuji.

Anyway, to commemorate Skin Cancer Awareness month this year, and to acknowledge my high school reunion, I'm offering one (1) copy of the book to each person I graduated with 10 years ago. (Keep in mind, I know who you are... As Sparky the Red Devil mascot, I remember who I graduated with. So, no cheating, folks! Get your own copy, and help fund skin cancer prevention education programs!)

If you are a member of the Nile C. Kinnick High School Class of 1997, and would like a copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Skin Cancer Programs and Resources please send me an email at (One book per person, please. We want to donate the proceeds from each book to skin cancer prevention education and research).

Many of you Kinnkers may be thinking that skin cancer only affects "Gaikokujins" (or Haoles). Yet, everyone is at risk for skin cancer. So, find out how you can protect yourself and those you love from this common, yet preventable cancer.

For those of you who aren't members of the KHS Class of 1997, you can get a copy of the book by clicking on the following link:

Hoping that all of you Red Devils are not red (or tan) from the sun, and that the last 10 years have treated you well.

Danielle (formerly known as "Sparky")

Friday, May 4, 2007

Top Reasons Not to Seek the Sun for Vitamin D

This week, our "Top 10 List" will be addressing the hotly debated issue of sun exposure and Vitamin D.

Media inundates us with conflicting messages about the sun exposure-Vitamin D relationship, thus perpetuating confusion, and false ideas, which can be potentially dangerous.

The truth is, deliberately seeking the sun to avoid a Vitamin D deficiency is not only unnecessary or irresponsible, but can be deadly. And here is why:

(the following information has been provided by the American Academy of Dermatology)

Don't Seek the Sun: Top Reasons to Get Vitamin D From Your Diet

Research shines dangerous truth on sun exposure and vitamin D

Our bodies need vitamin D to build and maintain strong bones. Without vitamin D, the body cannot use calcium and phosphorus — two minerals necessary for healthy bones. The American Academy of Dermatology (Academy) does not recommend getting vitamin D from sun exposure or indoor tanning. Both sources emit ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Getting vitamin D from your diet and practicing sun protection offer a healthier alternative. Still skeptical? Consider these scientific facts:

1. UV rays cause premature aging of the skin, actinic keratoses and skin cancer. There is so much scientific evidence to support this fact that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services classifies UV radiation as a known carcinogen (cancer-causing agent). UV exposure also causes cataracts and suppresses the body’s immune system.

2. More than 1 million cases of skin cancer will be diagnosed this year. While the benefits of vitamin D in helping to reduce the risk of many cancers have yet to be fully proven, it is well known that overexposure to UV radiation causes skin cancer.

3. The number of diagnosed cases of skin cancer continues to increase at an alarming rate. At current rates, 1 in 5 Americans will develop skin cancer during their lifetime.

4. One person dies from melanoma, a type of skin cancer, almost every hour (approximately every 67 minutes) in the United States. Today, melanoma is the second most prevalent form of cancer among women aged 20 to 29. It is expected that new cases of melanoma will increase by 9 percent in 2006. This raises an American’s lifetime risk of developing melanoma to 1 in 32.

5. Dietary sources of vitamin D do not prematurely age the skin nor increase the risk of developing skin cancer or actinic keratoses. Dietary sources are available year round. Good sources include fortified milk, fortified cereal, salmon, mackerel and cod liver oil. Research shows that vitamin D supplements are well-tolerated, safe and effective.

6. Sunscreen use does not cause vitamin D deficiency. A research study conducted in Australia, which has the highest incidence of skin cancer in the world, found that sunscreen did not cause vitamin D deficiency in all 113 people who wore adequate sunscreen to prevent actinic keratoses. Research shows that sunscreen helps prevent premature aging, actinic keratoses and skin cancer.

When used correctly, sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 15, the minimum recommended by the Academy, deflects or absorbs 93 percent of the sun’s UVB rays and allows 7 percent to penetrate skin. In addition, the average person requires one ounce of sunscreen, enough to fill a shot glass, to adequately cover the exposed areas of the body. However, most people don’t use enough sunscreen to receive the level of protection that is indicated on the package. Many people also fail to apply sunscreen at least 15-30 minutes before going outdoors in order to allow it to be completely absorbed into the skin, and they neglect to re-apply it every two hours or after swimming.

7. Humans need calcium to benefit from vitamin D. Sun exposure does not provide calcium. However, fortified milk, other vitamin D-fortified dairy products, and salmon are rich in both vitamin D and calcium. Many dietary supplements also contain both. Getting enough calcium and vitamin D is essential to prevent osteoporosis.

8. Vitamin D from food and dietary supplements offers the same benefits — without the danger of UV exposure — as vitamin D obtained from the sun. Vitamin D cannot be used by the body until it is processed by the liver and the kidneys. The usable form of vitamin D created by this process is the same — regardless of how it enters the body.

9. Maximum production of vitamin D occurs after brief exposure to UV radiation. The exact amount of time depends on many factors including location, time of day, time of year, and skin type. For a fair-skinned person in Boston or New York, at noon in June, it is 2-5 minutes. After this, any additional vitamin D that the body produces will not be stored for future use. Additional unprotected exposure will result in an increased risk of premature aging and skin cancer.


So, there you have it. Do NOT seek the sun as a means of avoiding a Vitamin D deficiency. Eating a bowl of cereal each day will provide you with sufficient Vitamin D, and will save your skin from unnecessary exposure to cancer-causing ultraviolet radiation.

Stay Safe in the Shade and Be SunSavvy,

News, Announcements, and related Updates

Just when I was wondering whether or not people were actually reading this blog, I received several emails asking me about the status of the ONLY SKIN DEEP? Book, if I am planning on writing another book, how many U.S. Governors have responded to our Proclamation request for Skin Cancer Awareness month celebrations, what is going on with our Web-sites, and how to purchase Skin Cancer Awareness pins.

First, let me answer the "easy" questions.

To get an official Skin Cancer Awareness pin and show you care. Click on the following link: Thank you for helping us raise awareness, and for supporting the cause!

As of today, May 4th, we have had 25 Governors directly respond to back to the mass email and letter I sent requesting individual states to public acknowledge May as Skin Cancer Awareness month and thus commit to educating their communities about this common, yet preventable disease. States such as Alaska, North Carolina, Illinois, Colorado, and Utah are among those who have sent direct responses in favor of this effort. Thank you to all of our leaders who are proactively educating people, raising awareness, and supporting the cause!

With regards to our Web-sites - We have had trouble with hosting, servers, even hacking. We are attempting to troubleshoot the problems, re-design and update the sites in an efficient and timely manner. The site is pretty much running; however, we are still ironing out kinks in the site. Doing all of this despite extremely limited resources - time, manpower, and finances - has been an interesting challenge, but The Cancer Crusaders Organization always manage despite challenges. It is amazing what you can accomplish (and how much) with a small group of volunteer college students! Thanks so much for your patience and support!

Now for ONLY SKIN DEEP? book-related questions and updates:

The ONLY SKIN DEEP? is currently #4 on for "Hot New Releases" in the category of skin care/skin diseases. Have you got your copy yet? You can always get your copy directly from The Cancer Crusaders Organization, have your contribution be tax deductible, and even have the book personally autographed. Email me about it at

I have been made aware of the fact that there was some sort of printer error, thus causing the book cover to look a bit blurry in certain spots. The ribbon, for instance, doesn't look as sharp and crisp as it should. I am working really hard to get this problem rectified immediately! I apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience, interest, and support.

For our Utah readers: The first, official book signing will be re-scheduled from May 31st to sometime in June. The reason for this is based on an continued effort to accommodate our speakers, dermatologists, and other participants in the event. I will keep you posted. And, yes, there is talk about a possible book signing event in Texas. Again, I will keep you posted.

Is the book available as an e-book? Yes, it is available as an e-book. Check it out on:

Am I going to be writing another book about skin cancer? The answer is Yes. I have been asked by numerous individuals to write another book. This project is still in the planning stages, so it is still too early to divulge the details; however, this book will be different from the resource guide. It will be more personalized. I can tell you, though, that a well-respected, genius dermatologist will be contributing to it! Stay tuned!

As always, please feel free to keep the questions, suggestions, and ideas coming in by emailing me at And be sure to tell your friends about ONLY SKIN DEEP? It may just save someone from having to face a skin cancer diagnosis!

Happy Reading,