Thursday, August 30, 2007

Uncovering the Facts about Sunscreen

Since I extended the offer to disburse free samples of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen out, many individuals across the country have taken me up on the offer. And, as such, I have received numerous questions about sunscreens (not to mention 100% positive feedback about Blue Lizard).

My recent Blog entry - Maximizing Sunscreen Efficacy, discusses what ingredients to look for, and how to ensure you're getting optimum protection. Yet, here is a list of commonly asked questions about sunscreens that many people ask:

1. Who needs to use sunscreen?

In a word -- EVERYONE~ Regardless of skin color or skin type, everyone needs sunscreen! The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the American Academy of Dermatology recognize six different skin types.

I. Always burns easily, never tans, is extremely sun sensitive skin. Red-headed with freckles. Irish/Scots/Welsh.

II. Always burns easily, tans minimally, is very sun sensitive skin. Fair-skinned, fair-haired, blue or green-eyed. Caucasians.

III. Sometimes burns, tans gradually to light brown, is moderately sun sensitive skin. Average skin.

IV. Burns minimally, always tans to moderate brown, is minimally sun sensitive Mediterranean-type/Caucasians.

V. Rarely burns, tans well, isn't sensitive to the sun. Middle Eastern, some Hispanics, some African-Americans.

VI. Never burns, deeply pigmented, isn't sun sensitive. African-Americans.

The American Academy of Dermatology suggests that, regardless of skin type, a broad-spectrum (protects against UV-A and UV-B rays) sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of at least 15 should be used year-round. (Ideally SPF 30). Remember, everyone is at risk for skin cancer!

2. When should sunscreen be used?

Sunscreen should be used every day (even on cloudy and cold days) if you are going to be outside for more than 20 minutes, and should be reapplied every two hours. Daily, regular use of SPF 15 sunscreens actually allow some repair of surface-level damage to the skin (i.e, wrinkles and premature aging). It is important to properly apply sunscreen and to reapply it daily. The sun’s reflective powers are great – 17% off of sand and concrete; 80% off of water and snow. And remember that even on a cloudy day, 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays pass through the clouds.

3. How much sunscreen should be used, and how often should it be applied?
Sunscreens should be applied to dry skin at least 20 minutes before going outdoors. When applying sunscreen, pay particular attention to the face, ears, hands and arms, back of the neck, and tops of the feet, and be coat the skin liberally. One ounce (enough to fill a shot glass) is the amount needed to adequately cover the exposed areas of the body properly. Be careful to cover exposed areas completely – a missed spot could mean a patchy, painful sunburn. And don’t forget that lips get sunburned, too! Be sure to apply a lip balm that contains SPF of 15 sunscreen. Sunscreen should be re-applied every two hours, and they should be reapplied after swimming or perspiring heavily. Even so-called water resistant sunscreens may lose their effectiveness after 80 minutes in the water. Don’t forget that sun exposure occurs all the time, even while you’re taking a short walk on a cloudy day. (For children six months an older, reapply sunscreen every 1 - 1.5 hours if in the sun during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m.).

4. What type of sunscreen should I use, and what ingredients should I look for?

There are so many types of sunscreen that selecting the right one can be quite confusing. Sunscreens are available in many forms including ointments, creams, gels, lotions and wax sticks. The type of sunscreen you choose is a matter of personal choice. Ideally, sunscreens should be rated at an SPF of 15 or higher (SPF 30 is the best) and provides broad-spectrum coverage against both UV-B and UV-A rays. Ingredients which provide broad-spectrum protection include; titanium dioxide, zinc oxide, benzophenones (oxybenzone), cinnamates (octylmethyl cinnamate and cinoxate), sulisobenzone, salicylates,and avobenzone (Parsol 1789). (*Note: According to Australian standards, which are considered the strictest in the world, the best protection ingredients include a minimum 5% of titanium dioxide and minimum 5% of titanium dioxide).

5. Can I use the sunscreen I bought last summer, or do I need to purchase a new bottle each year? Does it lose strength?

Unless indicated by an expiration date, the FDA requires that all sunscreens be stable and at their original strength for at least three years. Though, most dermatologists and skin cancer educators recommended replacing your sunscreen every year. Keep in mind that if you are using the appropriate amount of sunscreen every day (and reapplying it) a bottle of sunscreen should not last you very long. Approximately one ounce of sunscreen (enough to fill a shot glass) is considered the amount needed to cover the exposed areas of the body properly.

6. What is the difference between UV-A and UV-B (ultraviolet) light wavelengths and will a sunscreen protect me from both?

Sunlight consists of two types of harmful rays – UV-A rays and UV-B rays. The UV-B rays are the sun’s burning rays and are the primary cause of sunburn and both basal-cell and squamous-cell carcinomas (the two more common forms of skin cancer). UV-A rays penetrate deeper into the dermis (the base layer of the skin). UV-A are the more the more dangerous, as they can penetrate through window glass, and are primarily responsible for melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer. Both UV-A and UV-B rays can cause suppression of the immune system which helps to protect you against the development and spread of skin cancer. Since PABA and PABA esters only protect against UV-B rays, use a broad-spectrum sunscreen that also protects against UV-A rays. Ingredients like titanium dioxide and zinc oxide extend the coverage beyond the UV-B range and into the UV-A range, thus providing broad-spectrum protection.

7. What is an SPF?

SPF stands for Sun Protection Factor. Sunscreens are rated, or classified, by the strength of their SPF. The SPF numbers on the packaging can range from as low as two to greater than 30. These numbers represent the ability of a sunscreen formula to deflect ultraviolet radiation. Yet, keep in mind, that SPF 30 is considered ideal. (Technically, sunscreens rated higher than SPF aren't molecularly more potent). If you consider that a SPF 20 is preventing 95 out of every 100 UV protons from reaching your skin, then a SPF 30 is providing about 95-98% worth of protection. The sunscreen SPF rating is calculated by comparing the amount of time needed to produce a sunburn on sunscreen protected skin to the amount of time needed to cause a sunburn on unprotected skin. Dermatologists strongly recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an minimum SPF 15 year-round for all skin types.

8. Does SPF 30 have twice as much sun protection as SPF 15?

SPF protection does not actually increase proportionately with a designated SPF number. In higher SPFs, such as an SPF of 30, 97% of sunburning rays are deflected, while an SPF 15 indicates 93% deflection. (A SPF 5 provides less than 50% protection). Note: Research reported by the AAD suggests higher SPF sunscreens (such as SPF 15 or SPF 30) are an appropriate choice for very sun sensitive individuals (skin types I and II). One study determined that skin protected by an SPF 15 sunscreen and then exposed to 15 times the minimum dose of sunlight normally required to cause redness produced 2.5 times the number of sunburn cells seen in SPF 30 protected skin with the same dose of sunlight. These results suggest that prevention of redness does not necessarily mean prevention of all sun-induced damage. More research is currently underway on the protective effects of sunscreens on different skin types.

9. What is the difference between a sunscreen and a sunblock?

Since sunscreens can now either chemically absorb UV rays, or deflect them, the term sunblock is no longer used. (The term "sunblock" is a misnomer). It’s important to find a sunscreen that offers both UV-A and UV-B (broad-spectrum) protection and includes ingredients such as titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.

10. Is sunscreen application all I need to do to protect myself from the sun?

Because overexposure to ultraviolet light is the primary cause of melanoma, dermatologists recommend the following precautions:

• Avoid the being in the sun during the peak hours of 10:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. when the sun’s rays are the strongest.
• Seek shade whenever possible. Remember: "No shadow…seek the shade!" If your shadow is shorter than you are, the damaging rays of the sun are at their strongest and you’re likely to sunburn.
• Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a minimum SPF 15; apply it 20 minutes before going outdoors and reapply every two hours, especially when playing, gardening, swimming or doing any other outdoor activities. Sunscreens should not be used to increase the time spent in intense sunlight or instead of protective clothing.
• Wear sun protective protective clothing (rated at a UPF 50+) including a wide-brimmed hat, and wrap-around UV protective sunglasses.

Note: A number of studies have confirmed that repeated sunburns substantially increase the risk for melanoma skin cancer. This is especially true for childhood sunburns because there is more time and opportunity for subsequent sun damage to lead to melanoma.

11. Is there a safe way to tan?

There is NO safe way to tan! A tan is the skin’s response to an injury. Tanning occurs when ultraviolet rays penetrate the skin’s inner layer, thus causing the skin to produce more melanin as a response to the injury. Chronic exposure to the sun results in a change in the skin’s texture causing wrinkling and age spots. Thus, tanning to improve appearance is ultimately self-defeating. Every time you tan, you accumulate damage to the skin. This damage, in addition to accelerating the aging process, also increases your risk for all types of skin cancer, including melanoma.

12. Are tanning booths a safer way to tan?

Again, there is no such thing as a safe tan. In spite of claims that tanning booths offer "safe" tanning, artificial radiation carries all the risks of natural sunlight. Tanning booths emit UV-A radiation, which poses both short and long-term risks to the skin, including cataracts (eye damage), sunburns, skin cancer and premature aging. In addition, there can be damage to the body’s immune system and induce allergic reactions to certain fragrances, lotions, moisturizers and medications. Many tanning salons are unregulated, allowing customers access to tanning beds without supervision or even eye protection. The American Academy of Dermatology supports local and/or statewide indoor tanning legislation that bans minors from using tanning devices. In addition, this legislation usually requires that warning signs be prominently displayed in tanning salons and list the hazards of such exposure, among other possible regulatory provisions. We also support legislation regulating minors' use of tanning beds.

13. How do I treat a sunburn?

There are several types of sunburns (ranging from first to third degree burns) and burn treatments. Remember, that while you may not immediately see the effects of overexposure to the sun the cumulative effects do significantly increase your risk for skin cancer. The two most common sunburns are first-degree burns and second degree burns. First-degree sunburns cause redness and will heal, possibly with some peeling, within a few days. These can be painful and are best treated with cool baths and moisturizers or over-the-counter hydrocortisone creams. Avoid the use of "-caine" products (such as benzocaine), which may cause sensitivity to a broad range of chemicals. Aspirin taken orally may lessen early development of sunburn, but should not be used in placement of regular sunscreen use. Second degree sunburns blister and can be considered a medical emergency if a large area is affected. When a burn is severe, accompanied by a headache, chills or a fever, seek medical help immediately! Be sure to protect your skin from the sun while it healsm and everyday thereafter. That said, let it be re-stated that studies have found sunburns are linked to an increased risk for melanoma, especially if you suffered severe childhood or adolescent sunburns. Just one blistering sunburn as a child can nearly double your risk for skin cancer as an adult.

14. How much sunscreen should I apply to my skin each day to make sure I am covered?

Considered the country’s authority on the proper use of sunscreens, Dr. Elma Baron of Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio, strongly recommends using an ounce of sunscreen (or the equivalent to the amount that would fit into the palm of your hand). With that, it is imperative to remember to apply sunscreen on EVERY part of your body that is [potentially] exposed to UV rays. Places such as your ears, behind your neck, your back, the backs of your calves, your toes, are all places that are commonly neglected. If you have trouble reaching certain parts of your body, get your spouse or your best friend to help you apply sunscreen. Make it a team effort to protect each other from the sun!

15. Which sunscreens on the market today are best for my budget?

Dr. Sancy A. Leachman, deputy director and principle investigator at the Tom C. Mathews Jr. Familial Melanoma Research Clinic at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Utah, has put together an exhaustive and accurate spreadsheet that lists every sunscreen product imaginable; lists them by the amount of essential protective ingredients each products incorporates in its sunscreen formula, the level of SPF it provides, and how much the product cost per ounce in comparison to its competitors. To reference Dr. Leachman’s An Ounce of Prevention sunscreen spreadsheet, send an email to or contact Dr. Leachman at Huntsman Cancer Institute at 2000 Circle of Hope in Salt Lake City, Utah.

16. Are men or women better about regular sunscreen usage?

It is interesting to note results from a survey conducted by the American Academy of Dermatology in May 2005; the survey reported that teenage boys are the least likely of all Americans to use sunscreen. Only 32%of teenage boys aged 15-to-17 reported taking regular precautions against over-exposure to UV-rays. Similarly, the U.S. Surgeon General Richard H. Carmona, M.D., MPH, reports that another survey, recently conducted by the Sun Safety Alliance, reflects that sunscreen usage among Americans in their 20s and 30s is decreasing. It decreased from 72% in 2005 to less than 60% today. Additionally, the study reports that despite the fact 85% of middle-aged women know “the dangers of overexposure to the sun and believe skin cancer is a serious issue" they fail to properly and regularly use sunscreen. In fact, more than 60% of Americans suffer at least one blistering sunburn ever year. This is not only perplexing, but concerning especially since at least 90% of skin cancers are caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation!

17. I want to remember to use my sunscreen – Do you have any ideas on how I can do that?

We have several ideas about how to incorporate a regular practice of proper sunscreen usage so as to foster a permanent lifelong habit. To mention a few:
Consider placing a bottle of sunscreen in your make-up bag or by your bathroom sink (right next to your toothbrush/toothpaste). Consider getting a bottle of sunscreen that has a key ring on it and fastening it to your house and/or car keys. Put post-it notes on your mirrors or on the front door that read: STOP! Put on your sunscreen right NOW! until it becomes so that you don’t even have to “think” about it because you are doing it all the time anyway; it becomes automatic… it becomes a habit! You can also tell your room-mates, your friends, or your loved ones, to give you friendly reminders. (Be aware that these little friendly reminders may seem annoying, but just remember you asked for it!)

18. Does sunscreen, especially sunscreen usage as a child, really reduce your risk for skin cancer?

Approximately, 80% of our lifetime sun damage is sustained during our first 18 years of life, therefore making a habit of daily, year-round sunscreen usage beginning in childhood is good common sense. And, yes, sunscreen use in children can lower one’s risk for skin cancer in the future. “Sunscreen has always been an important part of an overall sun safety regime to protect the number of sunburns, especially for children,” reports dermatologist Jason K. Rivers of the University of British Columbia Department of Medicine. Dr. Rivers conducted a study of 309 Caucasian children ages six-to-10, who were monitored for three years. “Not only did the children in the sunscreen develop less nevi, it is of some significance.” To reference this study, contact the American Academy of Dermatology.

19. Does sunscreen use cause a Vitamin D deficiency?

It is true that our bodies need Vitamin D because it helps with the production of calcium and phosphorus – two minerals necessary for the building and maintenance of strong, healthy bones. However, the sun (or any other form of ultraviolet radiation) is not a viable method of getting your daily Vitamin D. We have mentioned how ultraviolet radiation damages our skin and places at a significantly higher risk for skin cancer, so to justify use of indoor tanning beds or suntanning as a means of getting Vitamin D is not only unnecessary, but dangerous. Americans fortify a majority of their grocery products with Vitamin D – milk, for example. Therefore, if were to have a bowl of cereal every day you would get sufficient Vitamin D. Reiterating this truth is the American Academy of Dermatology. The AAD recently compiled a list detailing reasons not to seek the sun for your daily Vitamin D.

So, there you have it -- the answers to many of your questions about sunscreens. For more information check out ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, or consult a board-certified dermatologist. You can also send me an email at

* This list was compiled by the American Academy of Dermatology with additions made by The Cancer Crusaders Organization.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

No simple "chance meeting"

While devouring a plate of Panda Express last week, my brilliant physicist friend and fellow cancer crusader, Kathleen reminded me of a special experience that took place last year...

As you can guess from my Blog, the subject of skin cancer prevention frequently enters my conversations. Occasionally, I’m not the one who brings it up; a friend or colleague will ask me a question or share a personal story, thus spurring a lengthy discussion on the subject of Skin Cancer Awareness. I must admit, I don’t mind it all. In fact, it brings a smile to my face, even makes me chuckle a little inside and say a silent prayer of thanksgiving. I'm grateful that people feel comfortable approaching me with their questions, and I’m deeply humbled when they share their personal stories.(Remember, we're in this together!) You see, I’m an extremely extroverted person who thrives on interactions with others. I am my mother’s daughter; she planted within me seeds that have sprouted a genuine love of serving (and protecting) people. When my beloved mother passed away, I knew, deep down (though, at age 15, I was reluctant) that I would devote a significant part of my time, talents, and energy toward cancer crusading. And when I met my dear friend, Natalie, eight years later, I was reminded of this and I learned that while my roots were originally pink [breast cancer awareness] they are predominately orange [skin cancer awareness] (yet, the pink roots still remain). The following story is provides additional proof of this; it is a simple, yet profound reminder:

Every year in May, my fellow cancer-crusading friends and I participate in the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure in Salt Lake to honor both my mother, Cindy, and Natalie’s brother, Eric. My radiant mother died from breast cancer on January 1, 1995, and Eric passed away (at age 21) due to complications associated with a malignant melanoma—the deadliest form of skin cancer, in May 1999. The event is our way of paying tribute to two beautiful people -- our angels.

So, May came along and we all gathered together for the Race. This year [2006] Natalie decided to name our Race for the Cure team “Team Maracaibo” in honor of Eric’s two-year Church mission to Maracaibo, Venezuela. (He was diagnosed with malignant melanoma just four days after returning home, and passed away exactly two months later). To surprise Natalie, a bunch of us bought Venezuelan T-Shirts (with pictures of my mother on lasso-necklaces). Unfortunately, Natalie was called out-of-town on business and was unable to attend the Race; however, her mother (also named Cindy) was deeply moved. I can still remember the look on her face, and the sound of her breathless gasp of emotion. It was such touching and tender moment.

After the Race, Kathleen and I (who walked it) met up with the rest of our teammates. After taking a few pictures and several rounds of hugs, Natalie’s family drove home and the rest of us decided to tour the sea of booths lined up around the Race course. It was then that this stranger with chesnut brown hair and a warm smile walked up to me and shouted “Who do you know from Venezuela?” I told her that my friend’s brother served a Church mission to Maracaibo, Venezuela and explained that we were wearing the T-shirts to pay tribute. “ [...] The Race always takes place right around the anniversary of his death, so we thought it would be nice to wear T-shirts honoring him and his mission.” It was then that this exuberant, but gentle lady asked me, “What's your friends’ brother’s name? I, too, served in Maracaibo.” When I told her that "his name was Eric Johnson", she immediately wrapped her arms around me in a big bear hug and squealed in my ear: “I LOVED Elder Johnson!” Then, her smile turned to a somber frown; the excitement in her voice faded and became liken to a whisper. “I was so, so sad to hear of his death. He passed away shortly after coming home, right? It was melanoma, right?”

I remember wishing that Natalie, and her family, had been present for this remarkable, even miraculous “chance meeting” with Hermana Merryweather. “I am so glad that Natalie has been able to honor Eric’s memory by creating the Skin Cancer Awareness ribbon. And I’m so glad that she has you, Danielle, to help her do that. Eric had a great love for the people of Venezuela. He was an all-around great person, and so nice and fun. Everyone liked him. Did you know that he had a perfect command of the Spanish language, too? I think I have some pictures of Eric in the mission field that I’d like Natalie to have. Can you give them to her for me?”

Oh, how I had wished that Natalie could have heard Hermana Merryweather speak so fondly of her valiant older brother; the one who inspired her to create the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol.

Truth be told, I never had the opportunity of meeting Eric. I only know him through stories, such as the one Hermana Merryweather shared. I only know Eric because of Natalie; the simple and quiet ways in which she serves the skin cancer community speak volumes about the love she had/has for her older brother which, in turn, tells me about the kind of person he was here in this life. I can’t make any statements about Eric, nor should I make any assumptions, but I think it is safe to say that he was a genuinely good person; a strong and courageous melanoma warrior. I'm sure he was... Just take a look at how he inspired(s) his sister, Natalie, who has since inspired(s) many others to become Skin Cancer Crusaders.

The “chance meeting” I had with Sister Merryweather is a fond memory and an experience I will always cherish. It is both humbling and bewildering. How did she spot me amid the massive crowds of literally thousands of people, and why did she choose me (there were four other people right next to me who were also wearing Venezuelan T-shirts)? Needless to say, this experience is a testament to me that we are all connected to each other. There is a saying that goes: “Coincidences are but small miracles in which God wishes to remain anonymous.” Yet, He is never anonymous. He is in every beautiful thing.

I can see Him in the faces of those I love, and see His Grace through the faces of those touched by cancer, and I can see His hand in my own life.

When I got home that day, I shared this story with my best friend [and then room-mate] Melissa (who, at the time, I had only known for a week but she ended up becoming one of my all-time favorite people and even wrote the Afterword to my book). I remember her big twinkling aquamarine eyes were immediately wet with tears. (And Melissa never cries.) Her kind, serene face glowed even brighter than the stars in Heaven. She reached out her long ballerina arm across the table and put her hand on mine. She, then, smiled and looked into my eyes. (Oh, how her eyes can see into my soul!) “You realize, Danielle, that this is no random, chance meeting […] I really believe that part of your mission here on Earth, Danielle, is to fight for those touched by cancer; to be a crusader for skin cancer and touch other people’s lives for the good. Heavenly Father is so mindful of you and He loves you…”

Honestly, I believe all of us are here to touch each other’s lives for the good. Everyone of us has the capacity, as well as the ability, to help further the cause of skin cancer prevention; to protect people and save lives from this extremely preventable disease. So often, when we hear of disease and tragedy, we are overwhelmed by its extremity that we feel crippled, if not powerless, to make a difference and stem the tide of its devastation. However, this is not the case with skin cancer. With more than 90% of skin cancers caused by over-exposure to ultraviolet radiation, this disease is largely preventable which means, WE CAN DO SOMETHING TO PREVENT IT AND PROTECT PEOPLE FROM IT; TO SAVE LIVES! That, in of itself, is a message of hope, inspiration, and empowerment. And that is exactly why the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol® was born; to espouse hope and inspire people to join in the fight to save lives; to touch lives for the good.

If there can be a positive side to cancer, it is that it reminds us of how precious and yet fragile our relationships are, that we are all connected to each other by a power greater than ourselves, that we have an infinite capacity for good within us, that our nature is Divine but our lives are in His Hands and, as such, life is a gift. And, as with any gift, we must embrace it humbly and graciously, and treat it with great respect and care. We are also reminded that out of tragedy, hope can be found. Hope is always alive and present; it springs Eternal [but] it waits for us to awaken; to embrace it. Hope, and love, is the part of us that lives on -- it is the part that cancer cannot kill.

So, what are you waiting for? Help us eradicate skin cancer from the earth TODAY!


Each life that touches ours for good
Reflects thine own great mercy, Lord.
Thou sendest blessings from above
Through words and deeds of those who love.

What greater gift dost thou bestow,
What greater goodness can we know
Than Christ-like friends, whose gentle ways
Strengthen our faith, enrich our days.

When such a friend from us departs
We hold forever in our hearts
A sweet and hallowed memory,
Bringing us nearer, Lord, to thee.

For worthy friends whose lives proclaim
Devotion to the Savior's name,
Who bless our days with peace and love,
We praise thy goodness Lord above.

(the italicized words above are an excerpt from a hymn by Karen Lynn Davidson).

But it cannot kill our Spirit

Since I have posted Scarlet's and MaryAnn's story to this Blog I have received an outpouring of emails from young women everywhere who either knew and loved them, or were touched by their story. One such email, from Lisa, was particularly eye-opening and touching. She has had melanoma touch her life, every year since she was 16 (and she's now in her 30s).

Learning about Scarlett and MaryAnn this week has caused me to take forced to take greater pleasure in the simple pleasures and tender mercies of life. As such, the love and appreciation I have for my friends (especially my two dearest friends - Melissa and Natalie) has deepened even further. And my faith in and devotion toward my Higher Power has increased immeasurably.

These melanoma warriors remind me that the greatest blessing in life is the love we give others, and that the love we receive, in return, is the greatest gift of all. After all, love is a choice; therefore, it is a priceless and precious gift. Truly, our relationships with people are what matter most and they make life worth living. Each person we associate with presents an opportunity to learn, grow, serve, and love. I would give anything to let the people in my life have a glimpse into my heart so as to see just how much I love them, care for them, and pray for them. I trust that, despite my limitations, that I will (some day) have an opportunity to love them purely and perfectly.

Additionally, these brave and beautiful melanoma warriors also remind me why I feel so compelled to crusade on behalf of skin cancer prevention education. You see, while I choose to volunteer my time toward this cause, the truth really is that thus is an honor (and responsibility) that these melanoma warriors have given me to help save lives from a deadly, yet largely preventable disease.

With that, I wanted to share Scarlet's obituary with you. Her mother, Cheryl, just sent me a heartfelt email in which she shared wonderful stories about her daughter (who would be the same age as me). As such, I feel a special connection to Scarlet. I want to thank the Moore Family for the work they are doing to raise awareness about melanoma skin cancer and sun safety in Tennessee. More than 300 people from Tennessee, Florida, Mississippi, and Alabama got together this month to host a "Run from the Sun" 5k for melanoma. I was particularly touched by the young women wearing shirts that said "Scarlet's Sisters". These ladies went to college with Scarlet at the University of Mississippi; they were her sorority sisters.

This picture of Scarlet's Sisters shows is an example for each of us in the skin cancer community. Truly, by coming together and collaborating therein creating a strong and unified front, we can save lives from melanoma skin cancer and even conquer it - once and for all.

For those of you looking for a worthy cause to support , for a rewarding activity to do during your spare time, or even ways to get your teenagers off of the couch and into the community, read the stories of melanoma warriors on this Blog and let them inspire you to become a Skin Cancer Crusader!

Yours in the fight,

PS: Thank you, again, to the Moore family for sharing your daughter with us, and allowing her to touch our lives. And THANK YOU to MaryAnn, as well, for your strength and resolve. We are so honored to have you apart of our team!

Graduated to Heaven, Scarlet Lawrence Akins

On August 4, 2006, one day before her 28th birthday, Scarlet Lawrence Akins lost her brave battle against malignant melanoma, a cancer that may have taken her body, but never touched her spirit. Scarlet's courage, generosity, humor and passion for life will continue to impress upon the lives of countless friends, family members and students.

As a wife and mother, Scarlet's motivation was found in her family. With her husband and soul mate, Jody C. Akins, Scarlet gave life to Madison Grace Akins, a daughter who, like her mother, is blessed with beauty, strength and undeniable resolve.

As a daughter, granddaughter, and niece, Scarlet found comfort, friendship and unconditional love and support from her parents, Cheryl and Vann Moore and Steve and Vicki Lawrence, her grandparents, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Lawrence and Dr. and Mrs. Steve Bledsoe, her aunts, Renee Hust and Leigh Pleasant, and her many cousins.

As a sister, Scarlet would beam with pride (and often roll her eyes) when bragging on her brothers, Reese Taylor Lawrence and V. Davis Moore, II, whom she loved both dearly as siblings – and as best friends.

As a friend, Scarlet's caring demeanor was omnipresent, her personality contagious and her determined loyalty never wavering. She would lend you her ear, her guidance and her time without hesitation. A true friend, she will be missed.

A graduate of Collierville High School in 1997, Scarlet received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English in 2001 from the University of Mississippi. While at Ole Miss, she pledged Kappa Alpha Theta, holding numerous positions within the sorority, both as a student and as alumna. She furthered her education at Ole Miss, earning a Masters of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication in 2003. Moving to Atlanta, she served as an assistant editor for Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles Magazine and later as the editor of European Homes & Gardens magazine. Returning to her true calling, education, she reciprocated her love of learning by offering the gift of teaching. Accepting a position first in Memphis City Schools, Scarlet moved on to mentor and teach as a journalism instructor and publications specialist at Northwest Mississippi Community College in 2005.

Please join in celebrating the life of Scarlet Lawrence Akins on Saturday, August 12th at 2 p.m. at St. George's Episcopal Church on Poplar Avenue in Germantown, TN.

In lieu of flowers, Scarlet requested donations be made to the Scarlet Lawrence Akins Foundation. Checks can be sent to the following address: 1328 Broadstone Lane, Cordova, TN 38016. Please specifically earmark your donation to one of Scarlet's three preferred charities: the Scarlet Lawrence Akins Journalism Scholarship at Northwest Mississippi Community College Foundation, the Kappa Alpha Theta Scholarship Fund, or the Church Health Center.

"Pale is the new tan!" - SLA"

To share your story, for a special edition of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, please send an email to:

* Note: The official symbol for Skin Cancer Awareness is now represented by an orange loop ribbon with a sunburst in the center. For more information, check out

Friday, August 17, 2007

24 and facing a foe called Melanoma

It has been difficult to sit down and write this week, especially since my last post about 27-year-old Scarlet and her battle with melanoma. While heartbroken, I have been comforted and uplifted by an email from a young woman named MaryAnn (who is also in her 20s and lives here in Utah).

As I work on revising, updating, and publishing my skin cancer prevention education curriculum for young adults, and gathering stories from people - all over the world - touched by melanoma skin cancer, I am overwhelmed. I am overwhelmed when I think about the number of people, especially those in their teens and 20s, who have faced melanoma. When these people are on the brink of starting their lives, melanoma has robbed them of it. When in your 20s, you should be taking classes and writing essays for college, dating and initiating lifelong friendships, traveling the world, discovering who you are, and preparing for the future. You should be living with passion, enthusiasm, vigor, and be full of hope and vitality. You should be full of enthusiasm and adventure, seeking out truth and knowledge, growing and developing, learning and loving. You should not be facing melanoma skin cancer.

At age 24, I was working on my senior thesis for college (which became the launchpad for my first book) and thinking about my career options. I established, with my dear friend Natalie, a non-profit organization to teach young adults about cancer (especially skin cancer). I was dreaming about my future husband and vacations to Ireland, Australia, Egypt, Greece, and other exotic places. (I still am... Where is Mr. Right, anyway?) MaryAnn, on the other hand; At age 24, MaryAnn was told that a mole on her cheek was malignant melanoma--a preventable, but very aggressive and even deadly form of cancer.

Here's an excerpt from the email she sent me --

"I was 24 years old at the time of diagnosis. I learned of my diagnosis after I had a mole that was on my left cheek removed [...]. The [plastic surgeon] automatically sent the mole in for a biopsy and I received a call that following Monday. My melanoma was at a Clark level IV. I honestly went into a complete numb mode. I was referred to an oncologist that I was told was the best in the West. I did anything and everything he told me to do. I was so scared I didn't dare think anymore than what I was told. It has now been two years since my diagnosis. I return every six months for a check up, and I have had many atypical moles removed since.

When I received the initial call, I told him he had the wrong person, after all I was only 24. This wasn't possible. Then, I called my husband and my mom and cried and cried. I didn't know what to think and neither did they. We all went to see the oncologist together. I was only focusing on the part where he said he was going to cut into my face and I would have a scar. I kept asking how big the scar was going to be and how bad it would look. He finally looked me in the eyes and said, "I'm not really worried about how the scar will look, I am more worried about trying to save your life." I honestly can say I didn't hear much of the conversation after that. I was told that I had skin cancer because I went tanning. I truly thought, "this is crazy." We are told that tanning beds are safe, so how could this be true? I decided that the only way I could become a survivor and not a victim of this terrible disease was to start educating as many people as I could about the dangers of tanning beds. I have now done several interviews, as well as going to the high schools and telling them my story. I will do everything in my power to help our kids learn the truth about tanning beds and what they need to do to keep themselves safe from skin cancer and melanoma. The picture is right before I was heading into the second surgery to remove all the lymph nodes in my neck due [to prevent the melanoma from spreading further."

Thankfully, MaryAnn's dermatologist, plastic surgeon, and oncologist were able to surgically remove the metastic (spreading) melanoma and thus save her life. Yet, many other young women such as Scarlet and others mentioned in this Blog were not as fortunate. Let this be, yet ANOTHER reminder, that there is NO SUCH THING AS A SAFE TAN. Tanning beds are dangerous - period. Ultraviolet radiation from tanning beds are just as harmful (in fact, more so) than UV rays from the sun. There is a great deal of research currently being done about the affects of tanning and its link to a heightened risk for melanoma. And there are various studies on how the cumulative affects of ultraviolet radiation - a known carcinogen - leads to an eventual melanoma.

To learn more about melanoma prevention, detection and treatment, as well as the dangers of tanning pick up copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Research. You can also log on to - the official site of the American Academy of Dermatology and read scientific journals.

Melanoma is an ugly, terrible, aggressive, and deadly cancer that is largely preventable. Truly, with increased awareness, prevention, and education we can stem the tide of this growing yet unnecessary epidemic. In turn, we SAVE LIVES of many of our youth who are, in fact, our future!

Parents, please do not let your teenagers go tanning. Ladies, if you must heed to the fashion of being bronze use sunless tanning foams instead. Everyone - perform your self-skin exams every month and see your dermatologist annually; protect yourself and your loved ones from melanoma.

I wish all cancers were as easily preventable; however, the double-edged sword we face with melanoma is that while it may be preventable, it is a complicated and often misunderstood, dangerous and deadly disease.

So, again, I implore you - forgo the tanning beds, wear the sunscreen, and take all the necessary steps to reduce your risk and protect yourself from skin cancer.

Thanks, MaryAnn, for sharing your story. Thank you to all of you who are fighting for skin cancer prevention, melanoma research, sun safety, and tanning legislation. You are heroes fighting a good fight!

Wishing you all lifelong health and safety,

PS: If you are a melanoma survivor, or have lost a loved one to melanoma, please email me at to share your story.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

This one's for all the Girls

You would think that after all the phone calls and emails that I receive from people touched by melanoma (and cancer, in general) that I would know exactly what to say to speak comfort, peace, hope, light, friendship, and love to someone's heart. Alas, I find myself, like I did this afternoon, fighting back tears that sting my eyes and sending a silent prayer Heavenward. The only words I know to say are in the form of prayer (and education).

Last week, we issued a press release asking for stories about melanoma warriors. Today, I received two emails - both stories about two beautiful women in their 20s; one survived Stage IV melanoma, while the other succumbed to Stage IV melanoma. (Stage IV meaning that the melanoma had spread to other bodily organs and into the lymph and blood vessels). I went from joy and excitement when reading a story about survival, to sadness and humility when reading a Tennessee mother write about her daughter, Scarlet, with the bright and friendly smile. Scarlet passed away a year ago. She passed away just one day shy of her 28th birthday. I'm 28 and single with no family, but Scarlet was married with a brand new baby girl. And melanoma robbed her of the chance to raise her baby. Having lost my mother to cancer as a teenager, I weep for Scarlet's baby and I ache for her. You see, I have memories of my radiant mother [but] Scarlet's baby will have only pictures; no memories of the beautiful and brave mother who, against the odds, fought to give her life while losing her own life to melanoma--the deadliest form of skin cancer.

Ladies, this Blog entry is for you (especially to those of you in your teens and 20s). When you hear reports issued by the American Academy of Dermatology that say melanoma is killing more women ages 20 - 39 than any other cancer; when you hear me beg and plead with you to avoid tanning beds and be vigilant about proper, regular, year-round sunscreen use; when you read about melanoma warriors such as Scarlet or Charlie or Colette, and many others, please remember that melanoma is very real and very serious, and very dangerous -- even deadly. Remember, too, that melanoma is PREVENTABLE! Please, please, please protect yourselves and protect your loved ones. Consider the heartfelt plea of a Tennessee mother named Cheryl who lost her daughter to melanoma. (And while you're encouraging the young women in your life to be proactive about sun safety and skin checks, don't forget the guys in your life, too!)

"I wish I could say that my daughter was a Melanoma survivor, but that is not the case. Here is her story:

Scarlet Lawrence Akins was 27-years-old, a college professor, married and pregnant with her first child. She had a small mole on her right thigh, just above her knee that changed shape/size. She told me, she was not sure if it changed size and she shaved the top of it off or if she shaved it and then it changed. Either way, it would not stop bleeding. It would bleed off and on for a while. She kept a Band-Aid on it all of the time. When she got pregnant she was so sick, of course everyone thought it was due to her being pregnant. She continued to teach, the entire time having little strength and being so sick that she would throw-up in the trash can in her classroom. She started coughing in Jan. 2006 and the doctors still didn't know what was wrong. She was given blood every week because of her "counts" were "off". On April 4, 2006 we finally found out that she had Stage IV Melanoma. The cancer was on her spine, three tumors on her brain and so many tumors in her lungs that according to her oncologist, her x-ray looked like a "snowstorm".

She lived exactly four months to the day. She died on August 4, 2006 one day before her 28th birthday. While she did go to the beach every summer, she was not a tanning bed user and did not every tan. She would just joke that all she did was turn red, then back to white. Scarlet delivered a healthy (cancer-free) little girl that weighed 3lbs and 8oz on May 9, 2006. Scarlet hardly got to be with her child at all. It breaks my heart that her daughter will never know what a wonderful mother she had. Never get to have her to hold her hand, give her a hug or fix her hair. We will never understand.................

We did just pass the one year mark of losing Scarlet and we did a Run From the Sun Memphis 5K in her memory and to raise money for Melanoma research, education and awareness. Since she was an educator, we wanted to do something to bring awareness to this awful disease.

If Scarlet could change anything, I think it would be this; if you have a strange spot, a mole or if you just don't feel "right" don't just settle for accepting that the doctors know everything. You know your body, and you need to manage your own health. She would probably had still succumbed to this, but maybe we would have had her longer.

MD Anderson has sent education packages to every school in the "Sunbelt" in the south. We live in Tennessee and I don't believe that this is being taught in any health or science class. I think that we have to get to these young people before they get into tanning. Educate parents to not take your babies to the beach without sunscreen and not in the hours of 10-4. If is taught at home first then in the schools maybe we could save some of these young people.

If you could get Oprah or Dr. Phil to do a story on this that would be a tremendous boost in awareness. I personally sent Oprah, Scarlet's story, her obituary, her memorial CD and all of the press that was covered about her story and I heard nothing. Maybe you would have better luck.

Thank you for your efforts and if I can be of any assistance please feel free to let me know."

Thank you, Cheryl, for opening up your heart and allowing me to (in a very small way) share in your sorrow and pain. I promise you that all of us here at The Cancer Crusaders Organization, though we are small group of 20-somethings volunteering our time between school and work, we will do all that we can to fight this deadly, but preventable disease. I, personally, pray each day for Strength, Insight, and Guidance from Above to know how best to serve you, and others like you, to honor the memories of those we have lost, and to best educate other young adults; to effectively reach and teach them about skin cancer prevention, detection, sun safety, and hopefully - with His Grace and Assistance - help save lives. I know that many of my fellow "skin cancer crusaders" at other melanoma foundations share in that commitment and passion, as well.

That said, if you are a woman in her 20s or if you know and care about a woman in her 20s, please share with her Scarlet's story, the facts and statistics about young women and melanoma (and the fact that every five minutes a woman is diagnosed with a form of skin cancer), and share with them information about skin cancer prevention/sun safety. I know that tonight, as I say my prayers, I'll be thanking my Heavenly Father for the gift of good health and safety, of blessed and beloved friends, of tender mercies and , of course, for "this unique gift called life." I just can't believe that I have outlived yet another young woman who gave so much of herself to those around her and who had a bright future ahead of her. It is, in a word, humbling. And it breaks my heart.

Let this be a reminder of how precious life is, and how much work we have to do to fight this UNNECESSARY EPIDEMIC!!!

In humility,

PS: If you would like to share your story for the special edition of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, please feel free to email me. Thank you, and God Bless!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Melanoma - Not a Respector of Persons

Last night, while updating this blog, I was surprised to receive an anonymous comment that made the claim that "melanoma is a white person's only disease" followed by a statement that read "melanoma is white person's curse [...] to call your organization 'Cancer Crusaders' is to be a hypocrite because you only care about cancers that affect white people."

First, please allow me to ease this person's concerns about whether or not I care about all cancers; I care, very deeply, about ALL cancers. My mother - my only parent - was taken from me as a teenager by breast cancer. Additionally, I have had several other family members suffer cancer - prostate cancer, lung cancer, uterine cancer, and melanoma, as well. My dear friend (and co-founder) lost her brother to complications associated with malignant melanoma. He was just 21-years-old. My best friend lost her grandmother to cancer. Nearly every one I know has been touched by cancer, including melanoma, in some form.

Secondly, and most importantly, please allow me to me plainly state that MELANOMA IS NOT A RESPECTOR OF PERSONS. Everyone is at risk for melanoma -- the deadliest form of skin cancer. While it is true that individuals with fair or lighter skin are at the highest risk, ultraviolet radiation is a known carcinogen that affects all biological forms of life, according to NASA and the World Health Organization. In other words, melanoma can touch anyone's life regardless of skin color, national origin, race, creed, or gender.

Take, for instance, popular Reggae singer Bob Marley (the idol of my 11th grade history teacher, Mr. Ettle) --

Contrary to popular belief Bob Marley did not die of a drug overdose; rather succumbed to malignant melanoma which spread into his lungs and brain. This factoid might surprise a few readers; however, this piece of information should actually bring the seriousness of this disease into a sharper, more stark perspective. Bob Marley’s battle with melanoma is a noteworthy case-and-point.

Initially, Marley mistook the unrelenting - and growing - sore on his right big toe for an old soccer injury. The supposed wound, which was originally found in July 1977, posed problematic after months of lingering ulceration. It was only when the sore began to grow, aggressively, under his toenail and thus interfered with Marley's dancing, that he sought medical advice. It was then that the correct diagnosis of malignant melanoma was made. Marley was advised to get his toe amputated, but he refused because of deeply held religious beliefs (he was Rastafarian). He also was concerned about the impact such an operation would have on his performing. He felt that amputation “would profoundly affect his career at a time when greater success was close at hand” according to biographers. Sadly, Bob Marley’s melanoma spread to his brain, his lungs and his stomach. While on tour in the summer of 1980, while trying to break into the U.S. market, Marley collapsed jogging in Central Park. Marley did seek other alternative advice regarding his melanoma diagnosis, but it was to no avail. He died a year later on May 11, 1981 at the age of 36 while at the peak of his music career. If we learn anything from Bob Marley’s story, it is that no one is exempt from a melanoma diagnosis.

Moreover, we learn that taking action on anything of concern is imperative. Do not be afraid to listen to your body nor be afraid to open your mouth; ask questions and seek help from your dermatologist.
After all, you are your own best advocate. Bob Marley dismissed an unrelenting sore on his toe as a stubborn soccer injury, for which he paid the ultimate price—his life.

That said, I implore each of you - especially the young adults in their 20s - to take proper precautions against a future melanoma diagnosis. Perform your monthly self-skin exams; visit your dermatologist for a full-body skin exam once-a-year; properly apply an effective broad-spectrum SPF 30 sunscreen every day; avoid tanning beds, and spread the message on to your friends and peers.

Wishing you abundant health,
Danielle M. White
The Cancer Crusaders Organization
PO Box 2076 Provo, Utah 84603

* Note: More about this can be found in ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. Pick up a copy today and support the cause. In this book, you will find a listing of melanoma foundations throughout the U.S., and read about others touched by melanoma.

PS: May I also suggest my friend Chris' Website devoted to malignant melanoma for more information about this deadly, but preventable disease.

PPS: If you have any questions about skin cancer, The Cancer Crusaders Organization, my book (or upcoming book), about the Skin Cancer Awareness ribbon, or would simply like to share your story please feel free to email me.

Monday, August 13, 2007

You Might Be a SunSavvy Geek if...

My friends and co-workers like to joke with me about being a "SunSavvy Geek". To be honest, I am rather fond of the nickname (probably because I can't dispute the fact that I am, indeed, a SunSavvy Geek).

What makes a person a bonafide SunSavvy Geek? Well, persons who qualify for a such a designation possess several of the following characteristics mentioned below and/or demonstrate distinct behaviors marked by a zealous desire to teach others about skin cancer prevention. As a result, you have been branded, by friends and kinfolk, as a SunSavvy Geek. Individuals who may be considered for such a designation or diagnosis, may consider the following criterion:

* People can recognize you from a block away by catching a glimpse of your Skin Cancer Awareness hat.

* You wear the Skin Cancer Awareness pin on your lapel every single day for three consecutive years.

* You carry sunscreen samples in your purse and freely disburse them to the masses as if they were Halloween candy (even at Church).

* You buy a gallon pump of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen and place it by the front door of your apartment so as to make daily application a more convenient part of daily your life, and the daily lives of your room-mates. As such, your best friend writes in the afterword of your first book on skin cancer: "[it was] to the chagrin of interior decorators everywhere..."

* You buy a gallon pump of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen and it place in your office at work (and neither one of the eight gentleman you work with have ever touched it, but you still hold on to the hope that they will...soon).

* One of your favorite topics of conversation is the proper use of sunscreen, and skin cancer prevention comes up in nearly every conversation.

* You send safety care packages to your buddy's dad who runs a successful pool cleaning/maintenance business.

* You give sun safety clothing as baby shower gifts.

* You host a radio talk show on skin cancer every week for two years and still found new issues/items to talk about.

* You have been to Chicago and D.C. because you were invited to participate in sun safety events and/or dermatology conferences.

* During a 15 minute break at work you write a blog on skin cancer (despite the fact that you write all-day everyday at work).

* You hand-painted the National Skin Cancer Awareness Ribbon Symbol on 200 Christmas ornaments for family members touched by skin cancer.

* You are obsessed with all things orange (and are wearing a brand-new orange top as we speak).

* You see a poster in student housing promoting unlimited use of indoor tanning beds and make a fuss about it.

* Your friends introduce you to other people by saying: "This is my friend Danielle, she runs a non-profit called The Cancer Crusaders Organization which teaches people about skin cancer prevention, and serves as the proud home of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol" all in the same breath.

* You spend your free-time teaching skin cancer, writing books about skin cancer, run a non-profit organization devoted to skin cancer (all voluntarily) just for the sheer LOVE of it all.

So, are you a SunSavvy Geek, too? If so, let me know... I would love to hear from a kindred spirit.

Yours in the fight,

PS: Don't worry - while my friend, in the picture above, may not be wearing a Skin Cancer Awareness hat at the pool, she is armed with ample amounts of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen and is standing under an umbrella for shade! (Friends don't let friends go outside without Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen!)

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kudos to Carrie; Saluting those who protect what protect us

My dermatologist called me yesterday to say that she will do whatever she can to make herself available to "get my moles taken care of" (I have about seven suspicious moles that need to be removed). At any rate, her genuine care and concern spawned this...

Saluting those who protect what protects us—our skin: 1st Annual Dermatologists’ Appreciation Week announced

Provo, UTAH (August 10, 2007) – With more than 1.3 million new skin cancers diagnosed in America each year, according to the American Academy of Dermatology, the role of dermatologist has transformed from mere “skin doctor” to cancer crusader, lifesaver, and even hero.

There was a quote that appeared in a recent publication of the British Journal of Dermatology that says “[…] there is a general lack of appreciation for what dermatologists do.”

Indeed, dermatologists are faced with a tremendous responsibility in the midst of a growing epidemic, not to mention the slew of other skin diseases they treat.

Hence, The Cancer Crusaders Organization announces that it will host “Dermatologists’ Appreciation Week” to pay tribute to superior dermatologists dedicated to skin cancer prevention and patient care.

“The idea [to recognize dermatologists] came to me when I received a call from my dermatologist recently,” says Danielle White, co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. “We had been playing phone tag for over a month trying to schedule an appointment to surgically remove several suspicious moles, and we could never sync up; my work schedule was crazy, she was booked.” White continues, “Then, I received a voice message from her that said ‘anytime that works for you and your crazy schedule is good for me. I just want to get those moles taken care of for you.’ That really impressed me. I thought ‘Wow! My dermatologist genuinely cares!’ She went above and beyond the call of duty. I know many dermatologists are also dedicated; they champion skin cancer prevention and patient care. So, we [at The Cancer Crusaders Organization] decided it would be a great opportunity for patients to have an opportunity to champion them in return, and show their appreciation.”

With that, The Cancer Crusaders Organization is asking patients to nominate their dermatologist for recognition. To nominate your favorite skin cancer-crusading dermatologist, please follow these guidelines:

• Submit a 300 to 600 word write-up explaining why the dermatologist is worthy of recognition. Please include: a list journal publications they may have written, community activities they have participated in for skin cancer awareness, personal experiences with the care you received from the dermatologist, testimonials from fellow patients, and other applicable information to help us understand why you are nominating them for recognition.

• Please include first and name, location, and contact information for both yourself and the dermatologist. (Sorry, no anonymous nominations will be accepted).

• It is strongly recommended that nominators submit a jpeg photo of the dermatologist, if possible.

• Please submit your nomination via email to The Cancer Crusaders Organization no later than September 7th at

• The dermatologist must be board-certified and in good standing with the American Academy of Dermatology.

• Nominations from outside of the United States may also be accepted.

The Cancer Crusaders Organization will recognize two dermatologists a day during the week of September 24 – 27, 2007. Each dermatologist will be featured on White’s Blog, receive an custom-made award plaque, a complimentary Skin Cancer Awareness pin featuring the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol®, a personalized thank you note from the nominee(s), and a complimentary copy of White’s next book – Preventing the Most Preventable Cancer which is due out sometime next year.

White, who is also the author of the recently released book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, says she hopes to make this an annual tradition by partnering up with other skin cancer organizations in the future, even making it a national event.

“With skin cancer incidence continually on the rise, it is vitally important that individuals and organizations dedicated fighting skin cancer come together and create a unified front; to conquer this disease it is going to take the collaborative effort—the dermatologists and patients, the educators and survivors must all come together,” White says. “Take a look at the breast cancer community—they have raised our stream of consciousness considerably over the past 20 years largely because they have successfully captured the attention of society by recruiting and uniting women together in the fight. The skin cancer community needs to do the same. We’re making progress, but there is still so much work to do,” she says. White adds that she hopes activities such as a Dermatologists’ Appreciation Week will aid in accomplishing this “overwhelming, but do-able task of raising awareness and education.”

Additionally, The Cancer Crusaders Organization welcomes nominations from the American Academy of Dermatology to nominate outstanding employees who have demonstrated an extraordinary commitment to skin cancer prevention education both personally and professionally.

“We recognize the AAD as the nation’s leader in the field of dermatological health and education,” White says. “In addition to saluting dermatologists, we would like to recognize at least one employee at the AAD, who have been nominated by their peers and co-workers, for their good works on behalf of skin cancer. This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for what you do. It’s a way to give back to those who inspire us, and serve others.”

The Cancer Crusaders Organization is a member of the National Coalition for Sun Safety, as part of the American Academy of Dermatology. Employees of the AAD who wish to nominate co-workers should follow the aforementioned guidelines regarding nominations for dermatologists.

The Cancer Crusaders Organization is also in the midst of hosting an essay contest on skin cancer prevention education and the perils of tanning.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities, or make a charitable donation, please contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization at: PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603 or send an email. You can also check out White’s personal Blog at:

The Cancer Crusaders Organization, founded in 2004 by Danielle M. White and Natalie C. Johnson-Hatch, is an award-winning 501 [c] [3] public charity, and serves as the proud home of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol®


The photo above is a picture of AAD board members - past and present, including Dr. Clay J. Cockerell who wrote the foreword for my book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources. If you live in the Dallas, Texas area (like my best friend does) schedule an appointment with Dr. Cockerell today for your annual skin exam. To find a dermatologist in your area, go to

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Paying Tribute to Melanoma Warriors

Only Skin Deep? ‘Cancer Crusaders’ seeking stories of hope, survival, and inspiration

Provo, UTAH (August 8, 2007) – As the temperature rises this summer, so does melanoma incidence—across the globe. In fact, another American is succumbs to melanoma every hour according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Yet, The Cancer Crusaders Organization wants to reassure people that there is hope.

“Skin cancer incidence in the U.S., and across the globe, continues to rise at an alarming rate,” says Danielle M. White, co-founder of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. “In fact, melanoma is killing more women ages 20-39 than any other cancer. Yet, this disease is very preventable! Prevention brings message of hope, and we want to emphasize to people, especially young adults, that while melanoma is a serious [disease] that is one the rise, it is extremely preventable—if we are proactive,” White says.

The 28-year-old White, who is also the author of the book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources says that her award-winning organization is collecting stories from melanoma survivors and family members touched by melanoma to include in a special edition of her book is set to release sometime next year.

“We want to include a section in the book that features a variety of stories from individuals touched by melanoma in this next edition,” White says. “In doing this, we hope to put face to this often misunderstood disease, and inspire people to be more proactive about prevention [and] to pay tribute to melanoma warriors and their legacy.”

White who is an inducted member of the American Academy of Dermatology’s National Coalition for Sun Safety and teaches skin cancer prevention to young adults says melanoma is a particular concern for women in their 20s. White’s next book, Preventing the Most Preventable Cancer, is also due out next year.

“Melanoma is the number one cancer-killer of women ages 20 to 39,” she says. “Every day I receive another email or phone call from someone who has lost a loved one to melanoma. The alarming increase in melanoma incidence reminds me that there is a need to not only disseminate information and statistics, but to put a face to the disease; to show people that melanoma is real and touches real people—your brother, your daughter, your friend.”

White mentions friend and co-founder, Natalie Johnson-Hatch. “Natalie’s brother passed away due to complications associated with a malignant melanoma just two months after his diagnosis. He was only 21-years-old. This is just one, of the many, stories that we want to share with others. Melanoma needs more attention and support from the public, thus we need increase awareness through education and prevention.” Hatch is the creator of the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol® and has been featured in various publications such as SHAPE Magazine. White also mentions Brittany Lietz (pictured above), Miss Maryland 2006, who is a melanoma survivor.

Individuals interested in sharing their stories of melanoma survival are encouraged to follow the prescribed guidelines for submission:

- If you are a melanoma survivor submitting a story for inclusion in the special edition of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources, please include:

• Your first and last name, mailing address and hometown, email, and age at the time of diagnosis. (We can, upon request, omit last names when publishing stories but request first and last names during submission to verify authenticity and accuracy of the information; to ensure the submission received is from the actual individual and that individual is authorizing publication of the story).
• How you learned of your diagnosis (and what stage melanoma you had), treatment options you explored, recovery, and how many years you have been in remission.
• Personal details such as: how you told your family; how you felt when you were initially diagnosed; what you wished you knew before diagnosis and what you would like people to know about melanoma now; ideas on effective ways of teaching youth and what you are doing to help protect and educate others.
• A jpeg photo (optional).

- If you are the family member of an individual who succumbed to melanoma and would like to share their story, please also send in the aforementioned information.

Stories should be sent to The Cancer Crusaders Organization via email by October 11, 2007. The organization is also hosting an essay contest for skin cancer.

Individuals submitting stories for the special edition of White’s book ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources must realize that their content will become property of The Cancer Crusaders Organization. The first 15 individuals who submit stories will receive a complimentary Skin Cancer Awareness pin featuring the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol®.

For more information, sponsorship opportunities, and to make a tax-deductible charitable donation, please contact The Cancer Crusaders Organization at PO BOX 2076 Provo, Utah 84603 or send an email to:


Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Notorious D.M.W.

While taking a walk through the little restaurants and shops neighboring my place of employment, I noticed an attractive young gentleman staring at me as I walked into a new restaurant; it was lunch time and the thought of a hearty, healthy salad was tantalizing my taste buds on this hot summer day. The gentleman followed me into the store and walked up to the register. Imagine my surprise when I discovered his family owned the restaurant. Imagine my shock when he said, "Aren't you Danielle White? I remember you! You were on student government and did Miss UVSC. I remember you because you did all that cancer stuff." Then, he proceeded to reference (by pointing) to the Skin Cancer Awareness hat that I was wearing. "I know you're Danielle White because you're the only person I know who would sport Skin Cancer Awareness hat. So, obviously you still do the cancer crusading thing. That's awesome. My name is Nick. We had a mutual friend named Jessica Beck and Brittany Wiscombe, and she would just go on about your cancer crusading stuff."

Well, that explains why a cute guy was eying me as a made my way down the sidewalk. (And to think it was the little bounce in my strut that lured him toward me. I should have known it was my ultra-fashionable Skin Cancer Awareness hat. Indeed, that hat is a fashion must!)

As I ordered a delicious strawberry-mandarin orange-chicken salad, we discussed sun safety and why it is especially important in Utah, old memories from college, how I made a fool of myself during my first attempt at Miss UVSC, and how the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol came to be (thanks, Natalie).

And, as you would have guessed, I slipped Nick a sample of Blue Lizard Australian Sunscreen along with a tip. (I almost gave him my number, as well, but I deferred. That is twice in two weeks that I have done that now! I never knew that fighting skin cancer would earn my conversation privileges with attractive men. Though, I wouldn't necessarily consider Gary Coleman part of that club. I've just been trying to protect people from the world's most common cancer!)

Be SunSavvy,
Danielle M. White

PS: To learn more about sunscreen, sun safety, and the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol pick up a copy of my book ONLY SKIN DEEP? and support the cause. Thank you!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Skin Cancer, Urologists, and Italian food

Generally, my blog entries are educational and, hence, serious in nature. Occasionally, however, I do write about my personal adventures as a skin cancer crusader.

Today's blog is [hopefully] an example of this... (If anything it is a superb example of how I seize every opportunity to insert a skin cancer-related message into every situation).

Two nights ago my room-mate and I went to the Olive Garden. Our server was a very nice (and cute) gentleman named Dave. He was friendly, attentive, and suggested a fabulous new dish for me to try (I tend to order the same dish over-and-over again when I go to restaurants.) It was pleasantly tasty. Good choice, Dave!

At one point, when Dave came to replenish our supply of bread sticks, salad, water, and good conversation, he pointed to my "Skin Cancer Awareness" hat. Behold! The opportunity presented itself, and I gladly embraced it.

"I have had skin cancer," says Dave. "Really? If you don't mind me asking, Dave, was it basal cell carcinoma, squamous cell carcinoma, or melanoma?" (Question marks begin circling his head.) "I'm not sure. It was some red scaly patch on my neck. It was a scab that wouldn't heal, so the doctor took it off." "Hmm, it sounds like it was either basal cell or maybe even squamous cell carcinoma, which are very common and very treatable." "Yeah, my doctor just removed it." "Well, you want to make sure you have a dermatologist take care of any skin-related issues. While general practitioner's are good, you will want to see a dermatologist especially if you have had skin cancer before. Have you gone in for any follow-up visits?"

(Note: By this time Dave is sweating bullets and has a peculiar, puzzled and perplexed look on his face.)

"No, I haven't gone in for any follow-up visits but my dad is a physician and..." (I intercept) "You really should go to the dermatologist -- at least once a year, and you should be examining your skin every month, too. What kind of doctor is your dad? Is your dad the one who diagnosed and removed your skin cancer?" (Dave turns bright red.) "Oh, trust me, Danielle! I don't want to see my dad or have him treat me for anything. I won't let him touch me!" "Why is that?" "Because my dad is a urologist."

(Enter loud laughter courtesy of both myself and my room-mate).

"Well, you should get that checked out, too!"

(Dave now sports an endearing shade of tomato-red and walks away.)

"I'll come back in a second, please excuse me."

Approximately 15 minutes later, Dave returns to our table. He says we embarrassed him, but promised to see the dermatologist ASAP. I asked him if he needed a recommendation, and gave him the URL for the American Academy of Dermatology. He also promises to check his skin out every month. "To tell you the truth, Danielle, I have had about 16 different moles removed. So, you're right. I should go in for a follow-up visit. Thanks for the lesson on skin cancer prevention."

Talk about a good sport! Little did Dave know that he would receive two tips from one lady in one evening. (My mother did teach me to tip generously!)

And now, I'm tipping YOU. It's a brand new month (Happy Birthday, Melissa), thus it is a great time to perform your monthly self-skin exam. So, after you get out the shower tonight, take a few minutes to check out your birthday suit.

Seriously, though, make a commitment to do it TODAY! It takes about five minutes, and it could save your life. When you think about another woman being diagnosed with skin cancer every five minutes, performing a thorough self-skin exam is time well spent.

That said, here's how to perform a self-skin exam...

First, you will need the following:

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

Now that you are properly equipped follow these simple steps:

1. Look at the front and back of your body in the mirror, then raise your arms and look at your left and right sides.

2. Bend your elbows and look carefully at your fingernails, palms, forearms (including the undersides), and upper arms.

3. Examine the back, front, and sides of your legs. Also look between the buttocks and around the genital area.

4. Sit and closely examine your feet, including the toenails, the soles, and the spaces between the toes.

5. Look at your face, neck, ears, and scalp. You may want to use a comb or a blow dryer to move hair to get a better looks. You also may want to have a relative or friend check through your hair because this is difficult to do yourself.

Now that you know how to perform a self-skin exam, here is what you need 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 (i.e., 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 which is about the size of a No# 2 pencil eraser (or smaller). Note: Yet, some people have moles that are larger than 6mm, which is why it is important to examine your skin regularly so as to know what is normal for your skin.

E = Elevation. A previously flat mole, becomes raised. It also stands for evolution - any mole that changes is cause for concern and requires the immediate attention of a board certified dermatologist.

According to the National Cancer Institute "by checking your skin regularly, you will become familiar with what is normal for your skin. It is helpful to record the dates of your skin exams and to write notes about the way your skin looks. I also recommend taking pictures, especially if you have numerous dysplastic nevi (large, abnormal moles). If you find that a mole has changed in color, shape, or size, is bleeding, or "doesn't look quite right" contact your dermatologist immediately. If you do not have a dermatologist, you can find one near you by simply entering your zip code here.

For the first three people who email me (or leave a comment) saying they have completed their monthly self skin exam for the month of August, I will send them a complimentary Skin Cancer Awareness pin. (You may also get an autographed copy of my book).

To learn why skin cancer, particularly melanoma, is a serious concern and why young adults should begin performing self skin exams NOW, pick up a copy of ONLY SKIN DEEP? An Essential Guide to Effective Skin Cancer Programs and Resources and read through articles published by the American Academy of Dermatology.

Thanks, Dave, for providing me with an opportunity to educate others about skin cancer! I hope each of YOU will follow his example, and begin monitoring your skin each month and visiting your dermatologist every year.

Here's to your health (and tasty Italian food)!


PS: The picture above is not of me getting my skin exam done; rather it is a melanoma skin cancer survivor named Stacey Escalante.