For starters, my apologies for neglecting this blog for so long. In short, circumstances were as such that demanded my personal attention. And, as we all know, we cannot effectively serve the community (much less fight skin cancer) if we don't first take good care of ourselves and the people in our lives. Since my last entry, I changed careers; leaving the professional marketing/public relations world to return to college and pursue a second degree in psychology/dance therapy. Additionally, while in school and changing [some of] my personal goals, routines, etc., I felt it absolutely imperative to invest considerable time doing some real soul searching; because my work with the skin cancer community involved promoting the official National Skin Cancer Awareness [ribbon] Symbol, which was designed by someone else - and not me; the fact that it represents not only a universal symbol for a world-wide [yet highly preventable] epidemic, but something deeply personal to its creator, I felt, in a word, torn. I was torn between the commitments I had made to the skin cancer community, as well as to my former associate and dear friend, and tenaciously trying to find out what course of action would be best for all involved - including myself. For many years, I was operating at lightning speed. Fighting skin cancer was not only something I devoted many volunteer hours in my spare time outside of my "real job"; rather, it had become almost an all-consuming "thing". The line between Danielle, the award-winning cancer crusader and Danielle, the person was disappearing, thus a healthy sense of balance had been lost. At any rate, I desperately needed time to think; to think about how/where I was going, and how the ribbon's creator and family might be feel about pushing it non-stop across the globe (though, they gave me permission to do). Needless to say, I was riddled with tremendous guilt. Establishing The Cancer Crusaders Organization was my dream. It was not only a way for me to honor my mother, whom I lost to cancer, but also a way for me to serve so many individuals in a uniquely widespread, impactful manner. So, how could I need a hiatus?
Summarily, recent news about someone dear to me possibly having to face skin cancer suddenly awakened me to a solution on how to contribute to the cause, pursue my new [additional] dream of promoting dance therapy/psychology, and still having a fulfilled personal life. I'll begin by taking simple, small baby steps. Perhaps, starting with an occasional blog entry/article on skin cancer. Then, inching toward [maybe] finally revising and updating both my three-year-old ONLY SKIN DEEP? Book and my skin cancer curriculum. And, hopefully, eventually doing an original sun safety children's book with one of my best friends. (I collaborated on and edited a sun safety children's book entitled SkinSense by author Lori Glickman, in 2007. Yet, I have long had an idea for another one), and possibly traveling the country speaking again. The key is: I must first maintain balance: Friends/loved ones and spirituality first. Then, school and my new [eventual] career in child psychology/dance therapy. Followed by personal activities, which include cancer crusading on a small scale (at least significantly smaller than years past).
While this may not be ideal to/for the many wonderful colleagues with whom I've worked over the past seven years. It may not make much sense, especially when I had once been doing this 30+ hours a week [voluntarily] writing, speaking, creating curriculum, launching/hosting radio talk shows, promoting global campaigns, etc., thus garnering three Gold Triangle Awards from the American Academy of Dermatology. Yet, I feel really good about this decision. It has taken me a long time to arrive at this conclusion, but I am making it without any guilt nor regret. I can still contribute to a cause that's so very dear-and-dear to my heart; to help raise awareness about the world's most common - yet PREVENTABLE - cancer. I'll just do it on a very small, small scale when it's appropriate. Individuals will still be able to order an official National Skin Cancer Awareness pin, thus both promote and support the cause. (I am working getting that online in an inexpensive - if not "free" - manner that's simple, effective and streamlined.) As for any other projects, we'll see how things play out going forward. The point is: I hope people will understand my to maintain a healthy balance in my life, and keep my priorities straight. Contributing to the cause is important to me, it just isn't my "entire life" anymore. God didn't create me solely for the purpose of cancer crusading. I am, first and foremost, an individual and I must live life honestly and wholly - which includes cultivating and maintaining healthy, meaningful and lasting interpersonal relationships, pursuing my educational/career goals, having time to laugh and savor, and taking care of myself. If I fail to do this, I fail everyone -- including the cause. Fighting cancer is not my life; rather, it's something in my life that I care deeply about - in addition to many other things.
Thus, that's my long overdue update. Again, I feel good about this... I'm going to "go with the flow", so to speak, and see when/where I can fit in some cancer work in a healthy [balanced] way. Until then, I'm taking it day-by-day, trusting that those who know me well with both understand and respect my decision. I must be true to myself, without forgetting to LIVE my life. Over the past year, I believe that I've finally started doing that...
In closing, as we strive to save other's lives, remember to actively LIVE and savor every moment of our life. As we strive to honor those who've lost their lives to cancer, let us not forget to take good care to love and honor and cherish those who are still a live. In the meantime, feel free to check back periodically. Again, we'll see what happens... one step and day-at-a-time.
That is my hope and my prayer.
Here's to living our best life! (and contributing to the cause when/where we can)
The Cancer Crusaders Organization
*Note: While we figure out how to set up donations online again, you are welcome to order official Skin Cancer Awareness pins via "snail-mail". If interested, please email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org and you'll receive instructions on placing a tax-deductible order. You can also order a ton of products - from buttons, stickers, hats, bags, water bottles, mugs, and magnets - featuring the National Skin Cancer Awareness Symbol at: http://cafepress.com/SkinCancerRibbo. Thank you for your support!