Over the past few weeks I have been working with producer Jennie Thompson gathering elements for some pieces we have done with Giada de Laurentiis - one of our contributors who has been co-hosting our 9:00 hour with Natalie Morales this week. Today we aired a spot on Giada's brother, Dino, who passed away from skin cancer when he was thirty years old. WATCH VIDEO
I went on the shoot when Jennie interviewed Giada about her brother, and it was incredibly sad to hear her tell the story of his diagnosis and rapid decline through treatments until his eventual death. We shot the interview in Jennie's home, with a backdrop set up, to make sure it was both an intimate and comfortable setting for such a difficult conversation.
I think it's admirable when people in the public eye are able to share their personal stories to raise awareness for different issues, and Giada was incredibly graceful in her telling of this story. Today was the first time Giada told the story publicly. There is a sense with celebrities that they have it all together all of the time. I think it's always compelling to realize that no matter who you are, you will have to face challenges and extreme sorrow in life.
I also was personally drawn in because melanoma - skin cancer - is not an issue I would normally pay a lot of attention to. I love the beach, I love the sun and I have to admit, I love when I have a healthy glow from a tan. It was a strong wake-up call to realize that the "healthy glow" that I crave - as much as I do wear sunscreen and know that the sun's rays are bad- could actually kill me. Not to sound ignorant, but I never thought about melanoma as a killing cancer. I also never really thought about it as a cancer affecting young people.
It was a very intense experience having a chance to work on this story with Giada and Jennie, and I hope it helps people realize - as I realized - that melanoma is a very real and deadly problem in our lives. We can all do more to protect ourselves when out in the sun, and I know I will take this story with me into the summer months.