Ali Mazza’s melanoma story

Guest post by Ali Mazza

This week marks six months since my dad lost his courageous battle with Melanoma.

This week ALSO marks THREE weeks since I was diagnosed with Melanoma.

I have been seeing a dermatologist every year for the last 8 years. I saw TWO dermatologists after my dad passed away just to ‘make sure’ everything was fine. Both gave me the all clear.

At my 6 month follow up with my original derm she mentioned that the mole on my left butt cheek had maybe grown half of a millimeter. She said ‘we will just watch it.’ I said let’s just take it off! I don’t need it!


She called me a week later and informed me that it was Melanoma in SITU and that I would need a small surgery.

I moved all of my records to Dana Farber Cancer Institute the next day. They re-evaluated my pathology and determined that it was actually stage 1A. That small change ultimately changed the size of my re-excision. I’m so thankful I went to Dana Farber and got the best possible care from some of the most respected specialist in the industry.

Yesterday I had my surgery and now I will heal, with just a scar (a really BIG scar!) and bad memory.

A few takeaways…

1. Wear your SUNSCREEN…not just at the beach, ALL of the time.

2. GO to the dermatologist EVERY year!

3. Don’t wait until there is an issue to start being careful with your skin. I didn’t have a ‘family history’ until 6 months ago…

4. You are NOT too YOUNG to get Melanoma. 1 in 40 people will be diagnosed and it is the MOST diagnosed cancer among people 25-29 years old in the US.

5. There is no ‘type’ of skin that is immune to Melanoma.

6. Trust YOUR gut! If you feel like something has changed or isn’t quite right, GET IT CHECKED.

7. Get naked for your dermatologist. People get naked for bikini waxes, spray tans, etc. but clam up when it comes to your doctor! My mole was small and unassuming, it also happened to be on my butt cheek which would have never been caught had I not gotten naked for my doctor!

8. Educate yourself on how to practice sun saftey!

University of Colorado Anschutz Cancer Center Joins Defeat Melanoma!

Free sunscreen dispensers funded by the Defeat Melanoma-Jeff Dulude Melanoma Foundation for the next three years.

Colorado has one of the highest death rates in the United States from melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. In hopes of reducing the numbers within its community, the CU Anschutz Medical Campus is spreading the word about sunscreen protection, offering both the message and the means.

Just in time for May’s Melanoma Awareness Month, three bright-yellow sunscreen dispensers now dot the campus, providing students, faculty and staff free sunscreen that they can slather on throughout the day.

“Many people forget to apply sunscreen in the morning, or they apply it only once,” said Nazanin Kalani, fourth-year student in the CU School of Medicine (SOM). “When free sunscreen is provided, you give people the opportunity to apply, or reapply, before they spend time outdoors.”

Spreading a message

Spearheaded by Robert Dellavalle, MD, PhD, and his dermatology/public health lab, with the help of Cody Glickman, president of the CU Anschutz Student Senate, the dispensers were installed last week. They will be funded by the Defeat Melanoma-Jeff Dulude Melanoma Foundation for the next three years.

“Skin cancer is the number-one most-preventable cancer,” said Claudia Dulude, founder of the foundation. “By placing free sunscreen around campus, we are making strides to end melanoma.”

Dulude launched the foundation after losing her husband and father of their two children to melanoma when he was 37. A Boulder engineer, Jeff Dulude was an outdoor enthusiast who especially loved taking his kids skiing.

Defeat Melanoma has placed more than 100 dispensers across the country, including on school campuses and at trailheads.

Coloradans at higher risk

In Colorado, residents are at a higher risk for skin cancer partly due to higher elevation and active outdoor lifestyles, both of which increase exposure to cancer-causing ultraviolet rays. Skiing offers a double-whammy, with its high-elevation locales and UV-ray reflection off the snow.

Although the dispensers are a step in the right direction, there are other important steps to ensuring skin safety, Dellavalle said.

“It’s a common misconception that we only need sunscreen to protect ourselves,” he said. “You should also avoid the midday sun using shade, clothing and hats. If you need to be outside, try to complete these activities before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m.,” Dellavalle said.

“Having sunscreen on campus is a huge step in promoting sun safety and skin cancer prevention,” said Kalani. “Not only are we encouraging students to use sunscreen while on campus, but we are reminding them of the importance to educate their future patients.”

The CU Anschutz dispensers are in the north lobby of Education 2 North, the south lobby of Education 1 and the Etai lobby of Research 2.

“I hope that sunscreen dispensers at CU Anschutz encourages other campuses to push for sunscreen and shaded structures on their campuses,” said Kalani. “Hopefully, this push could trickle down to elementary and high schools as well. The earlier we can promote these habits, the better.”

Blair Ilsley
University Communications
May 10, 2018

Full article on CU Anschutz Today

Defeat Melanoma on the Today Show almost made the Guinness World Record!

Thanks to NBC, the Today Show and all those who came out in New York City on Melanoma Monday on May 7 when we tried to set the record for most people putting on sunscreen simultaneously!

The record to beat was 1,822 people — and that record still stands. The TODAY plaza didn’t quite beat it, according to Guinness adjudicator Alex Angert.

“But we had a packed plaza of people that have learned in a fun the importance of putting on sunscreen,” he pointed out, while also presenting a plaque acknowledging the record for “Largest Today Show crowd to support a good cause.”

P.S. We have told Guinness World Records that we’ll be back!

View pictures and video from the event on the NBC Today show site

The Today Show and Defeat Melanoma team up for a Guinness World Record attempt

The Today Show and Defeat Melanoma are teamed up for an attempt on the Guinness World Record to beat “The most people putting on sunscreen simultaneously.” The attempt will take place on Melanoma Monday, May 7th, 2018 on Rockefeller Plaza in New York City.   Guinness has approved our application and The Today Show is hosting a Beach Party, with Today Show t-shirts and sunglasses to celebrate the day.

It will be great fun.  Please join us that day to promote our joint mission of eradicating melanoma!  We are inviting everyone who has been touched by melanoma to join together on Rockefeller Plaza on May 7th. 

We believe this will be the largest audience ever reached with our skin cancer prevention messaging.  The Today Show is No.1 among younger news viewers, including adults 25-54. NBC’s morning show has now ranked No. 1 for this important age group for a whopping 100+ consecutive weeks, with an audience up to 5 million daily.

Melanoma kills one person every hour.  1 in 5 people will get skin cancer.  Melanoma is 90% preventable.  Ultra Violet (UV) exposure, the main cause of melanoma, is cumulative.  Wearing sunscreen, long sleeved shirts, long pants and a hat help prevent UV exposure.  Staying out of direct sunlight 10 a.m. till 4 p.m. is also effective in preventing excessive sun exposure.

We are dedicated to stopping skin cancer.

Register on the NBC website as a participant

​For more information:


Boulder County Joins Defeat Melanoma for the Great American Screen Out!

November 8, 2017…Boulder County, Colorado joined Defeat Melanoma this past summer as a test site for providing free sunscreen at local trailheads.  The campaign, the Great American Screen Out!, is a project aimed at increasing sunscreen usage and ultimately preventing skin cancer diagnoses by making sun protection easily accessible.

sunscreendispenserMelanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer, is increasing in the United States by 3% per year. People who spend time outdoors in Colorado face increased UV exposure due to the altitude. Subsequently, the risk of being diagnosed with a type of skin cancer in Colorado is about 1 in 3. Sunscreen usage, combined with annual skin checks, can prevent 90% of melanomas from becoming deadly. People should seek shade when possible and use physical barriers such as long sleeved shirts, long pants, and wide-brimmed hats in addition to sunscreen when they are going to be outdoors.

Boulder County is committed to the wellness of its residents.  Over 60,000 acres of land are owned and managed by the Boulder County Parks and Open Space Department for public recreation and enjoyment.  The 2017 sunscreen program was tested at the Coalton trailhead, the Lagerman Agricultural Preserve, and the Ron Stewart Preserve at Rabbit Mountain.  A multi-year agreement has been signed between the county and Defeat Melanoma to provide sunscreen and education for residents and visitors at park trailheads.

Naz Kuesh Lani Yazd, an executive at the Cancer Skin Cancer Task Force of Colorado said, “I think sunscreen dispensers are such a useful tool to impact a large number of people.”  The sunscreen used was from Bright Guard and Rocky Mountain Sunscreen. The product was stored in standalone dispensers at trailheads, similar to hand sanitizer dispensers.

Defeat Melanoma is a 501(c)3 non-profit dedicated to stopping skin cancer in its tracks.  Melanoma is 90% preventable with sun protection and skin checks.  Call Claudia Dulude at (602) 228-9939. Help us provide free sunscreen and education to Boulder County in 2018 by donating at