We had the good fortune of connecting with Candice Mason and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Candice, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
US skin cancer rates are on the rise. I know first hand because I am one of those statistics. I am a two time melanoma survivor. Melanoma is the deadliest form of skin cancer. After I was diagnosed originally with melanoma in 2017, I was sitting in the infusion chair brainstorming about what I could do to turn my cancer diagnosis into a positive experience by promoting sun safety, skin cancer and skin cancer awareness. My business also gave me a chance to give my anxiety brain a creative outlet to help me deal with the mental aspect that comes along with cancer. Sun safety is often ignored. Thus, I created the UPF50+ apparel and accessories brand Desert Camo Apparel.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I’ve had to start at the bottom, working for pennies to get to where I am personally and professionally. I come from humble beginnings and because of that I appreciate all that I have achieved. I have been a technical cancer researcher for 15+ years at The University of Arizona Cancer Center. My expertise is in molecular biology and genomics. I’ve dealt with cancer cell lines, tissues and tumors at the bench to aid the research and medical communities gain more knowledge about various types of cancer. This in turn helps the global community by unlocking cancer pathways and improving treatments. I am the story behind my brand. I’ve done literal, physical cancer research for years. Now I am on the other side as a cancer patient. The last five years have been the most challenging. Specifically, once my melanoma recurred in 2019, I had to undergo a bilateral craniotomy (a.k.a. double brain surgery) and brain radiation. The challenges did not stop there, I had lesions on my lung, spleen and pelvic walls. Cancer treatments, such as immunotherapy and radiation, come with high costs like brain necrosis, seizures and other side effects. All of which I have endured and continue to fight through. My own story is what keeps me going for my family, community and entrepreneurial endeavors. I want to be the liaison between the public and scientific medical professionals. The best part of my business is that it brings together all the things I wholeheartedly believe in: science, medicine, faith, humanity, community outreach, and public health.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Arizona is my home. I am a native Tucsonan. Let’s start with food. Tucson is the first designated UNESCO City of Gastronomy. We have the best the Mexican food. So much so, there’s 23 miles of it. Did I mention it was my favorite? My favorite places to eat are any of the Casa Molina restaurants. Growing up, this was the place my family would go to for dinner often.  Day trips to Bisbee, Tombstone, and Sonoita are definitely a must do. When time allows, heading up north to the high desert or the pines of northern Arizona is a great getaway and nice change of scenery. My family and I love exploring off-road and checking out old abandoned mines, towns and indigenous ruins. The Phoenix area is great to catch a D-backs game or Eric Church concert.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Besides my family and friends, a big shoutout goes to my amazing oncologist Dr. Montaser Shaheen. He knows all the ins and outs of melanoma. He is a research MD, so basically he knows a lot about the science of melanoma. More importantly, he always has first hand knowledge about the latest clinical trials and treatments. He is my lifesaver and I would not be here today without him.

Website: www.desertcamoapparel.com

Instagram: @desertcamoapparel

Facebook: @desertcamoapparel

Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3mffyW_rlCOQTsK4RZ3azw

Other: TikTok: @desertcamoapparel

Image Credits
Amy Harbison Seann Caldwell

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.