Giada De Laurentiis regularly invites viewers into her life on her program Giada at Home, but what her fans may not know is that she lost a beloved brother to skin cancer. ET talks to the Food Network star and author about the new PSA she recorded for Stand Up to Cancer with The Melanoma Research Alliance.
Giada says brother Dino, who died of melanoma at age 31 in 2003, was her rock. The two lived next door to each other and shared a passion for cooking, frequently getting together in the kitchen to whip up meals. Though Dino, who Giada describes as "funny, a great photographer, [and] a great storyteller," was two years younger, Giada tells ET, "Really, we felt like he was my older brother. He was the person I turned to for everything. When something great happened in my life, when something bad happened -- I would talk to him 2-3 times per day." Giada shares that when her brother passed away, she felt very alone, though his death ultimately fostered a deeper relationship between her and her sister.
Now, Giada wants to avoid any other family having to go through what her family did. In her upbeat PSA, she fondly remembers Dino, and shares simple tips that anyone can follow to protect themselves against melanoma. "I regularly wear sunscreen, no matter what. And I regularly check my body. Those are the two most important things, because had my brother checked his skin and checked his body, he would have seen that something wasn't right," Giada shares.
"My brother was in his 20s," Giada says. "The mole was in the center of his back, and it's not like he's going to turn around and look at his back in the mirror. And he didn't really see it for a long time. And I think that was one of the problems. Otherwise, we would have caught it and he would still be alive today."
Giada recommends, "I would say to people – see a dermatologist. If you don't have any melanoma in your history, once a year, but if you do, twice a year would be great. I go every three months because my brother actually passed away from it. But I would just get checked."
She shares that melanoma can occur in unexpected places – under your nails, on your scalp, and even on your eyes – so the most important thing is to know your body.
Giada also points out gender differences when it comes to protecting the skin: "Women start to think about sunscreen, not just as a protection against the sun. We actually think to ourselves, 'Well, if I wear a little sunscreen, maybe I won't have as many wrinkles later.' But men don't think that way, because they're like, 'Oh no, the wrinkles are great. That makes me look more manly somehow,' and they don't care as much." She stresses that everyone, men and women, need to wear sunscreen "rain or shine" and pay attention to their skin.