Monthly Archives

May 2013

Success Stories SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Melanoma Survivor Capt. Harry

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Coolibar invites skin cancer survivors to share their stories with us in their own words. Hope, determination and drive to educate others play a major role in these individuals’ lives. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone. Prevention and early detection can be life saving! We hope you share these stories with your friends, family and colleagues. Be SunAWARE this month and all year long. Read Capt. Harry’s story below.

I am fifty years old and run a saltwater charter fishing business out of O’Neill’s Marina in St. Pete, Florida. I had always spent a lot of time on the water, but not like this. In 2005, I started going to the dermatologist two times a year. In March of 2012, the dermatologist told me to keep an eye on a spot in the upper middle of my back, not to worry about it, but just watch it. This spot was in a place that I could barely see, even with two mirrors. I made the mistake of forgetting to tell my wife what the doctor said about keeping an eye on that spot.

While on a vacation in October, my wife noticed that spot on my back and said it did not look right. I went to the dermatologist in early November and the doctor said it was great that my wife noticed the spot. It did not look right to him and a biopsy was done.

I was on a fishing charter just off St. Pete beach when the doctor’s office called and told me that I had a Clark Level 3 Melanoma and to schedule an appointment with Moffitt Cancer Center. I didn’t know what to think. I was scared, angry, nervous and just wanted to get off the boat. As much as I tried not to let my clients know what that phone call was about, I’m sure they noticed a change in my attitude. I was so mad and angry that I told my wife that evening, “I don’t want to tell anyone about this, that it was my business, and it stays between us.”

We were reading everything we could about Melanoma and Clark Level 3 diagnosis. All this information was making the both of us more anxious, nervous, scared, angry and upset. Knowing and keeping this a secret was not the right thing to do. After a week or so, we agreed to tell two of her brothers that live close to us and my dad, and at some point my brother and sister who live in other states.

After Thanksgiving, we met with our team at Moffitt Cancer Center, and they told us what the procedure would be and scheduled the surgery for December 13th. While in a tree stand hunting one morning, I finally came to grips with what was going on and decided it was fine to talk about it, and totally changed my attitude. It took me three weeks to get to that point, but the anger was gone. I was still anxious and nervous, but not mad and angry.

After sitting in that tree for three hours, I got down and took a walk through the woods. I came upon a guy who was spraying invasive plant species to get rid of them. We talked for four hours and while talking he tells me that his wife went through breast cancer and Moffitt Cancer Center helped her beat it. She was cancer free and doing great. After about three hours, I told him I had just come to grips with my diagnosis, and I told him about it. He asked if it was alright with me if I would join him in a prayer for me. I told him it can’t hurt, so we prayed. It really was something that I ran into this man just after coming to grips with my situation.

I went in for the surgery on the 13th, and the first step was to inject a dye around the biopsy area to determine where and if the cancer had gone to any lymph nodes. The dye showed that it had gone to one lymph node in my left armpit and three in my right armpit. The surgery went well and they removed one under my left arm and three under my right. They also removed a large area around the biopsy. They scheduled my follow-up visit for December 31st. It was going to be an anxious two and a half weeks waiting for the lab results. After about ten days, my wife said let’s call and get the lab results. This was an anxious call but a great one. The nurse told me that all the lymph nodes came back negative and all of the area around the biopsy was also negative. Hallelujah! Christmas was so much better.

Words to the wise:

I had never heard of Coolibar before having to research melanoma and UPF clothing. Living and boating in Florida, you are going to be in the sun. I think, like myself, a lot of people have never heard of Coolibar. I spend over 200 days on the water, and clients as well as others in my industry, pay attention to what others are wearing. Regular cotton tee shirts just will not hold up, so people need to see others wearing sun protective apparel. Lead by example.

Capt. Harry

Capt. Harry’s Website: Hook Em Harry

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Avoid UV & Seek Shade

FDA works to increase awareness of tanning bed risks

Tanning Bed

Monday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a proposed order that, if finalized, would reclassify sunlamp products and require labeling to include a recommendation designed to warn young people not to use these devices.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, there is a 75 percent increase in the risk of melanoma, the deadliest type of skin cancer, in those who have been exposed to ultraviolet radiation from indoor tanning, and the risk increases with each use. The proposed order does not prohibit the use of sunlamp products by those under the age of 18, but it provides a warning on the consequences.

The order would reclassify sunlamp products from a low risk device (class I) to a moderate risk device (class II).

“Using indoor tanning beds can damage your skin and increase your risk of developing skin cancer,” said FDA Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg, M.D. “The FDA’s proposed changes will help address some of the risks associated with sunlamp products and provide consumers with clear and consistent information.”

If the order is finalized, manufacturers would have to submit a pre-market notification (510(k)) to the FDA for these devices, which are currently exempt from any pre-market review. Manufacturers would have to show that their products have met certain performance testing requirements, address certain product design characteristics and provide comprehensive labeling that presents consumers with clear information on the risks of use. The order proposes to include a contraindication against use on people under 18 years old, and the labeling would have to include a warning that frequent users of sunlamp products should be regularly screened for skin cancer.

Resource: http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm350864.htm

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Partner Athletes Sevve Stember

Tracing back to the birthplace of sport climbing

 

 

As a teacher, I get some nice chunks of time off throughout the year, and I do my best to spend these breaks doing what I love — rock climbing.  This year, I journeyed west to Oregon and climbed on the welded tuff that was left over after a long ago volcanic episode.  There is a really strong and interesting history of rock climbing in Smith Rock State park, and it is often sited as the birthplace of sport climbing in America.  Sport climbing involves clipping pre-placed bolts as opposed to traditional (or “trad’) climbing, which involves placing your own protection in the rock as you ascend a crack system.

I was fortunate enough to join a married couple and their son for this trip.  Additionally, I met up with an old friend and roommate whom I lived with in Yosemite Valley when I worked there as a park ranger.  The trip had all the makings of a great time: classic climbing routes and good people to hang out with.

Smith Rock

The first day we climbed at a place called “The Lower Gorge”, where we avoided the large crowds that were enjoying their last day of spring break at some of the more popular crags (crag=cliff where people climb).  Jacob, my old roommate, and I teamed up and spent most of the day trad climbing classic crack routes. 

Since we were both new to the area, we decided to climb routes that we could onsight (climb first try without falling) instead of trying harder routes that were on the outer limits of our ability.  The day was awesome: we climbed 10 routes, each only falling once.   We both flashed (climbed without falling) “Pure Palm” (5.11a), which is a route with very few holds, and involves a lot of stemming.  Super classic!

Unfortunately, at the end of the day on the last route I climbed, my shoulder gave a large “creak!” and was a little tweaked the rest of the trip.  I’ve learned this same lesson many times before; but it’s hard to control my excitement.  My mentality is to always push myself to do more, partially because I simply love climb but also because I want to get better.  The lesson I took away from this experience is to quit while I’m ahead.  Injuries happen when tired.

Monday was a bit strange: I had two phone interviews for teaching jobs in Denver because my wife and I are relocating for her residency program in Emergency Medicine.  My day went something like: interview, climb, interview, climb.  I think I probably had the best view anyone has ever had during an interview as I looked out over Smith Rock from Jacob’s car.

Lets Face It 10b

The day was a total success: the interviews went well and I sent “Ring of Fire” (5.11d) on my 2nd attempt. 

Tuesday, Jacob and I did a multipitch (multiple rope lengths above the ground) route called “Wherever I May Roam” (5.9, 5 pitches).  The route, although easy, was enjoyable because I don’t get the opportunity to get hundreds of feet off the ground in Minnesota.  He headed back to Portland afterwards, and I met up with my crew from MN.  We worked on a super fun route called “Lightly Toasted” (5.11c).  Dan hung the draws and made a great effort.  I went next and fell at the crux (hardest part of the route).  We both sent next go.

The last day of the trip was one of the most memorable ones.  We had a leisurely morning, each one of us catching up on our “normal” life (aka work).  After lunch, we decided to head to Smith Rock for one final session of climbing.  On the drive, the weather looked questionable.  As we pulled into the parking lot, it started to rain.  Laughing, we tossed our backpacks on and hiked down to “The Morning Glory” wall.  On the way, about a dozen climbers passed us on their way to the parking lot.  “Perfect!” Dan said to me.  All the climbers had left and we had the entire wall to ourselves.

We quickly roped up and I lead “Nine Gallon Buckets” (5.10c) which is a really spectacular route; in fact probably the best single pitch of 5.10c I’ve ever climbed.  Next, we got on “Full Light Doritos Flavor” (5.12a), which is a pitch of 5.11a with a three-bolt extension.  I lead first, hanging a couple times.  Dan and Bronwyn both had a great time on it, making great efforts.  The clouds were back to looking ominous.   I quickly decided to try to send the route and soon I was well above the ground. 

As I entered into the crux (hardest part of the climb), it began to rain.  It didn’t matter.  I was in the zone.  All the clutter in my brain dissolved into the background.  The rain spattered against the rock as the wind picked up.  Moves that had felt hard the first time went smoothly.  Soon, I was at the final undercling, staring the anchors in the face.  I high stepped with my left foot, pushed hard on my right handhold, and reached effortlessly to the final jug.

The hike out was surreal.  It rained, a rainbow appeared, and then a double rainbow topped the whole day off.  I smiled from ear to ear on my hike out and the trip ended in a special way.  Spending meaningful time with people, seeing new sites, climbing new routes…these are the things that make me tick.

– Sevve Stember
Coolibar Athlete

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SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Melanoma Survivor Lauren

During Skin Cancer Awareness Month, Coolibar invites skin cancer survivors to share their stories with us in their own words. Hope, determination and drive to educate others play a major role in these individuals’ lives. Skin cancer doesn’t discriminate, it can happen to anyone. Prevention and early detection can be life saving! We hope you share these stories with your friends, family and colleagues. Be SunAWARE this month and all year round. Read Lauren’s story below.

My name is Lauren, and I am 25 years old.  I grew up in a small Colorado town where I was devoted to my family, friends, and sports. I lived outside, and under tanning bed lights.  I went to college on a volleyball scholarship where my tanning addiction only got worse.  Realizing that skin care was my passion, I gave up college classes for cosmotology ones.  Sitting in my esthetics class is when I realized that I could very well be suffering from Melanoma, and I was right.  Four months after my first mole diagnosis, I completed four rounds of biochemotherapy.  Since then, I have been cancer free and plan on staying that way.

Growing up in a small town that consisted of mostly prisons, antique shops, and bars made it easy for any child to know that almost all activities were meant to be outdoor adventures.  Whether it was swimming at the local pool, riding bikes, or swinging from ropes across a creek; they were all under the blistering Colorado sun.  Back then, wearing sunscreen was advised but never forced.  Oh, how I wish it was.

It all started before I was even in high school.  I realized that my skin always turned into a beautiful tan after only a couple days of suffering a sunburn.  That was not a problem for me; beauty is pain, right?  Any chance I had to roll up my pant legs and arm sleeves to let the sun beam down on me, I took.  I can remember a handful of severe sunburns ranging from scabs on my shoulders, blisters on my legs, and even my lips, but that never stopped me.  All these imperfections would go away, and I would soon have that perfect tan.

Not only did I love to feel the natural sun shine, but I loved the fact that I could get even better results from a tanning bed. I learned that lying in a tanning bed for just twenty minutes was equivalent to laying on a beach for four hours; so I made sure to include the twenty minute sessions of UV rays into my daily routine.  Sometimes I would even let the time run out and start it all over again.  After all, I wanted to have the best “glow” at prom, be the darkest on the volleyball court, and Lord knows, I couldn’t let my true shade show during the winter.  Using tanning beds was a part of my life for nearly ten years.  I was addicted.  Nothing felt better to me than to lie in the warm bed, close my eyes, and doze off to wake up to an even darker complexion.  It was just too easy.

I attended cosmetology school to become an esthetician-someone who works in skin care and is knowledgeable in the best ways to care for the epidermis, go figure.   I remember the week we learned about skin disorders and diseases, a light bulb turned on in my head.  We were going through the ABCD’s of Melanoma, and I realized that a certain mole on top of my head had these exact characteristics, but still, I didn’t think to go to the doctor.  No one ever thinks, “Why yes, this is probably cancer.” Just like when you have a tooth ache, the last thing you think about or want to do is go to the dentist.

Lauren in her Coolibar at the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation Offices

A couple months had passed, and this mole was only getting worse.  My grandma finally made it clear that I had to see a doctor, so I went just a couple days later.  I explained to the dermatologist what this mole was doing.  Whether it was oozing, bleeding, or peeling, something was not right.  Without hesitation, the doctor insisted a biopsy be done.  He numbed me and removed it faster than I could say, “Ouch.”  One thing that still pops into my mind when I think about this appointment is near the end of the visit, he told me that he would pray for me.  What?  I’ve never heard a doctor say that.  Did he know something was wrong?

About a week later, the phone finally rang and it was the call my family and I had been waiting for.  We were sure it was nothing, that he would have only good news to tell us.   How wrong we were.  The mole he had removed was a Melanoma, a Stage 4 on the Clark Scale.  He pointed us in the direction of a head and neck surgeon to have a wide excision done on my scalp, as well as a sentinel node biopsy.

Before this procedure, the surgeon was confident that there would be no spread.   He told us there was only a twenty percent chance it would have gone anywhere.  With this statistic, it was easy to feel the slightest bit of comfort.   The surgery went well, but there we were again, waiting.  Another week had passed, the phone rang, and everything changed.  I remember like it was yesterday; he said, “We did an amazing job on your scalp, the margins were perfect and there was no Melanoma found.  But, they did find a little Melanoma in the sentinel node.”  Getting that news once is hard enough, but twice?  There are no words to explain.  I was back under the knife exactly a month later for a complete neck dissection to remove all remaining lymph nodes, and I was officially a Stage III Melanoma patient.

Just nine days after the dissection, I was admitted to UCH in Denver for my first round of biochemotherapy, the most aggressive strategy against Melanoma.  This consisted of three types of chemo, and two bio medicines.  I was hospitalized for five days with a twenty-four hour drip.  I would have two weeks in between cycles, so just enough time to feel almost normal, and then it was right back to where I started.  I completed four of these cycles, and I am so thankful to know that biochemotherapy cannot be done twice.  Nothing makes me happier than to know I will never have to go through that again.

Recovering was hard; I was weak, and I am still weak.  But, my attitude and outlook have never been so strong.  I never let the thought of death cross my mind; it was not an option.  No matter how miserable I was, or how alone I felt, I knew that this was just a huge lesson for me, for people I love, and for people I’ll soon meet.  I couldn’t have fought this battle without all the love and support from my family and friends, especially my mom and dad.

I strive to be a role model for others that have dealt with or who are dealing with Melanoma:   patients, patients’ families, friends, neighbors, anyone who has been affected.  Understanding this disease and how to prevent it is crucial, and I am ready to spread the awareness and make a difference. Know your skin.  Check your skin.  Love your skin.

Lauren

Lauren and her mother at the Richard David Kann Melanoma Foundation Fashion Show Fundraiser 2/12/13
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Events Parenting School sun safety SunAWARE

Win Sun Protective Hats for Your School

Coolibar’s school sun hat contest is now open for entries! If you have a child in school or are a teacher, enter to win up to 50 kids hats for your classroom! We’ll be drawing the names of five lucky winners. Enter online and complete the SunAWARE quiz (ANSWERS BELOW) along with your contact information.

Mail your completed entry to Coolibar before May 9, 2014 and you’re registered:

Coolibar School Hats
2401 Edgewood Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN 55426

GOOD LUCK!

Contest Guidelines:

To enter, you must be a teacher or student at a public school, accredited private school, member of a 501(c)(3) educational organization, or a member of a recognized support group (e.g. PTA) for any of the preceding organizations. Contest open to residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia. Contest entries for 2014 must by post marked or submitted by May 9, 2014 to be eligible for the contest drawing. Winners will be announced on May 14, 2014. Each winner will receive 50 hats maximum for their class. 5 winners will be chosen at random. No purchase necessary to win. Prize is non-transferable, not returnable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash. Mechanically reproduced entries will not be accepted. One entry per person.Contest rules subject to change at the sole discretion of Coolibar.

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