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,

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