All Posts By

Hayden + Team Coolibar

This is Brave

This is Brave: Partnering with the Melanoma Research Foundation

Together We Can!

At Coolibar, our mission is everything. It’s the essence of our DNA, which is why we partner with organizations working hard to save lives like the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF). In addition to raising funding for life-saving research and science, their dedication to patients and caregivers is absolutely incredible. The endless, first-hand testimonials we’ve gotten say it all…

“When I needed answers and had no idea where to start, the MRF was there.”

“We’re so grateful for the support the MRF has given our family.”

“The MRF saved my life.”

This is why we became the Official Apparel Partner of the MRF in 2020. While their team works to fund life-saving research, treatments and education, we can help by protecting everyone under the sun with UPF 50+ clothing. In 2020 alone, we’ve gifted thousands of shirts to virtual Miles for Melanoma participants, outfitted every wonderful kiddo at the 2020 Pediatric Melanoma Summit, offered up raffle items to raise funds at Virtual Galas and sent care packages to patients and families needing more support this year. It’s an incredible partnership that truly puts people first.

2020 also marked the third year of This is Brave, our annual T-shirt fundraiser for the MRF. It all began when a young girl here in Minnesota stepped up and reminded us all of the importance of advocating for and supporting individuals with skin cancer. When Quinn told her brother Graham to Be Brave while battling pediatric melanoma, she was reminding us all that we can do this! We can battle through and no matter what the outcome might be, we’re better when we can Be Brave together.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime whether there is a pandemic or not. #CancerHasNoCurve. The good news is the MRF and the greater melanoma community continue to be strong and active. Patients and advocates have done everything from taking the message of prevention and protection cross-country, to telling a neighbor to care for their skin and get checked. You are amazing. Everything you’re doing counts!

We’re taking some time out this November to remind everyone of the important work of the Melanoma Research Foundation, and to continue to help them fundraise and support their community. 2020 has been a year full of …surprises. But cancer does not take a break, and neither will the MRF.

If you’re able, we’re asking you to support skin cancer awareness and the MRF. Here is how you can help:

  1. Read the awe-inspiring stories of our Brave warriors and share them with your friends and family. Awareness can save lives!
  2. Learn more about the MRF and the work it does to save lives.
  3. Consider donating to the MRF. They’ve created wonderful virtual programs to ensure that the funding for research and education remains strong.
  4. Purchase a 2020 This is Brave UPF 50+ T-Shirt or our Limited Edition Be Brave Umbrella for yourself or send it to someone as a sun-safe gift that gives. The proceeds go directly to the MRF.

Thank you for all that you do and remember…together we can BE BRAVE!

No Comments
This is Brave

This is Brave: Advocating for Protection and Prevention

There are various forms of advocacy. When it comes to working with lawmakers on federal, state and local levels to advocate for new and innovative science, and policies and regulations to benefit the melanoma community, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) leads the charge. They’ve helped increase melanoma research funding for all types of melanoma—including mucosal, ocular and pediatric—while improving access to quality care and skin cancer prevention activities. Some of its most notable accomplishments include preserving the indoor tanning tax, age restricting indoor tanning, and pushing for access to sunscreen in schools.

We are proud to be a part of that. For the past two years, a member of the Coolibar team has traveled to Washington D.C. to share their personal story and experience with melanoma. It’s an honor to join individuals from across the country to speak to our state representatives about the importance of skin cancer awareness and funding. Together, we’ve helped allocate millions of dollars to life-saving research. We welcome everyone with a skin cancer story to consider joining the MRF in Washington D.C. when we can all come together again. You can learn more here: https://melanoma.org/how-to-help/advocate/

No Comments
This is Brave

This is Brave: Advancing Research for Breakthrough Melanoma Treatments

Did you know…

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating melanoma by accelerating medical research. They are committed to advancing a broad scientific agenda across the disciplines of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

From 1998 to 2020 the MRF grant program awarded 200 competitive, peer-reviewed programs across 75 institutions totally more than $18.8 million dollars. And they did that with your help!

The MRF distributes its research support amongst a vast array of individuals ranging from medical students all the way up to senior investigative teams. And they don’t limit it to cutaneous melanoma (the kind most are familiar with), they also fund rare subtypes including uveal, mucosal and pediatric melanoma.

There are five types of grants that YOU are helping fund when you support the MRF…

“So many of the patients that reach out to us are just looking for a new answer. A new path forward through their diagnosis. Being tuned into cutting-edge science and being connected to leading researchers allows us to point them down paths to information and clinical trials that ARE saving lives.”

Remember, every dollar utilized to fund research and science goes toward saving lives and giving people hope. TOGETHER WE WILL!

No Comments
This is Brave

This is Brave: Education and Support for Patients and Caregivers

One of the most important messages the Melanoma Research Foundation shares is:

You Are Not Alone.”

Melanoma is diagnosed in more than 196,000 Americans each year, and the numbers continue to rise across all races, ages and genders. Anyone can develop skin cancer. One of the MRF’s key roles is to support newly diagnosed patients, survivors and caregivers.

Doug Brodman, current board member, turned to the MRF as his first source for information and help when he was first diagnosed:

“Our family realized we needed to educate ourselves about this disease in order to better understand and prepare for the battle ahead. That’s when we discovered the Melanoma Research Foundation.”

-Read more about Doug’s story.

The “Newly Diagnosed” page starts with this advice:

You have been given a diagnosis, not a death sentence.”

When found early, melanoma is one of the most treatable cancers. In later stages, treatment may be more challenging but no matter how advanced your diagnosis is, the MRF has a plan for you. They’ve carefully outlined what you need to know, what you need from your treatment team, advice to help you get through appointments, access to information about clinical trials and financial assistance, and more. If you need it, it’s there. If it isn’t there, the MRF is connected with an entire community of medical professionals whose life’s work is to provide life-saving care.

Knowing what to do and who to talk to is huge, but many people will tell you the thing that got them through was the community. Patrick Guddal, melanoma survivor, MRF advocate, and founder of Connect Melanoma, likes to say:

“The skin cancer community is like a club that you never ever wanted to be admitted to. But once you’re there you never leave. The friends you meet and connections you make start to feel like home. I’m forever grateful for their role in my life.”

Read more about Patrick’s story.

There are a number of ways the MRF brings the community together. It hosts an online patient forum where you can connect with other patients and caregivers. It holds ongoing patient & caregiver meetings to provide opportunities to learn from leaders from major academic medical centers. It partners with other organizations like CancerCare, Imerman Angels and Patient True Talk to connect people to support groups or one-on-one help.

If you are, or know someone who is newly diagnosed, we strongly encourage you to visit the MRF’s Patients & Caregivers page. It can make all the difference in helping navigate a diagnosis.

No Comments
Live Wisely

Why You Need to Start Planning Now For Holiday Shopping

Too early to start planning for the holiday season? Nonsense. Due to COVID-19, online purchasing is up 28%, and the landscape of shopping, in general, will look much different this year. 

Some of us are always ahead of the game and trying to capture the best deals, while others are the last second gift-buyers. But regardless of whatever category you typically fall under, you’re going to want to be the former instead of the latter this year and we’re here to tell you why. 

Shipping. Shipping. Shipping. 

From lost packages to avoiding face-to-face deliveries, shipping has been a nightmare during the pandemic. Currently, shipping carriers have announced that they are already delivering at peak holiday numbers and they are estimated to be at a 5% over capacity. So, how do you beat this? Shop early and allow your order time to arrive so you do not unintentionally gain a part-time job tracking your own packages. 

Out of Stock Products 

Traditionally, Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday season, but it is no secret now that the sale season will be kicking off as soon as mid-October. This means that some of the biggest deals and best-sellers may be short in inventory the longer you wait! If you decide to try and play the dangerous game of buying at the last second, you may end up being the person handing out gifts weeks after the holidays. 

Avoiding Busy Shopping Center 

For obvious reasons, brick-and-mortar shopping has become a tricky situation and it will only get more challenging when tons of people swarm to the malls around you! Whether it’s in the form of waiting in lines out in the cold or being in uncomfortably packed department stores, there’s so many reasons to avoid or at least limit the amount of time spent shopping at the mall. 

The holidays are already a stressful time. With so many additional stressors, do not make the season any harder than it must be! Get ahead with your planning, keep yourself and those around you healthy and enjoy being with your family. 

No Comments
Skin Diaries

Learning to Wear His Cancer with Pride

David Aizer, a South Florida TV personality who has hosted TV shows for Nickelodeon, CBS, The CW, Fox Sports and more, has taken his stage III Melanoma and turned it into a tool to motivate and inspire others. His five-year journey through PET scans, brain MRI’s, CAT scans, a two-year clinical trial, numerous vials of blood and constant anxiety showed him that everyone has two options in life:

  1. Be scared, angry and self-conscious about the challenges you’re facing.
  2. Embrace life’s challenges and be grateful.

He recently gave a motivational TEDx Talk where he challenged everyone to look at their battle scars, whatever they may be, and realize that they’re part of what makes you, you. Every scar is an opportunity to educate, motivate and inspire others. It’s a great listen for anyone, no matter the diversity you’ve faced in your life.

David also wrote a memoir about his experience. His first-person account of how battling melanoma impacted him is full of honesty and heart. His ability to look back, reflect and find the humor in his experience is something we all need. Be ready to laugh and cry, then call your doctor.

You can learn more about David Aizer on his website: https://www.daveaizer.com.

No Comments
Live Wisely Wear to Where

Why You Should Wear Gloves While Driving

If you follow us on Instagram, you have most likely seen us share dozens of Stories with our followers wearing their UPF 50+ gloves. To some, this may look or seem completely ridiculous to wear gloves while driving, but there is a lot of reasoning behind the logic of wearing them!

The average driver in the U.S. spends 17,600 minutes in their car each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That is 293 hours! With all that potential sun exposure, your hands and arms suffer the most and are typically exposed to more UV rays while driving that most other parts of your body.

Even with all that time in your vehicle, you may feel like your car offers a lot of protection from the sun, but for the most part, that is just not true. Your windshield may block some UV rays, but your door windows offer minimal protection. An interesting, but true statistic is that typically the left side of our bodies show more sun-related aging because of the time spent driving!

So that brings us to the point of the entire blog… Why should I wear them? The answer is simple: To protect your hands from unnecessary sun exposure that leads to aging, wrinkly skin and skin cancer.

From fingerless to sleeves, we offer a variety of gloves that can fit your preference and need!

Looking for the classic driving coverage? These are perfect!
For those that want a little more extended coverage:

No Comments
Live Wisely Wear to Where

5 Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

It’s no secret that the most effective protection against the sun is the protection that you wear.

Ever heard of sunscreen? Of course you have. It’s been around for nearly 90 years. It’s a good form of protection from the sun, but there is one catch to its effectiveness – It must be reapplied every two hours. Sunscreen paired with other forms of protection works wonders, but alone it’s just not enough. For that reason, you won’t find any products with SPF in our top 5.

UPF 50+ clothing and accessories, on the other hand, provide the most effective form of sun protection because there not as much of a commitment as sunscreen ends up being, won’t wash off due to water or sweat, and always applies to UVB and UVA rays.

Still trying to figure out the difference between UPF and SPF? Check out our blog on it.

Follow these 5 tips to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

1. Wear a wide-brimmed hat

Choose a hat with a 3-inch or greater brim to protect your face, scalp, ears and neck.

Coolibar Choice:

2. Switch Out Everyday Favorites

Swap everyday favorites for long sleeve UPF 50+ shirts.

Derm Choice:

3. Add UPF 50+ Coverage

Add coverage to short sleeves when lounging outdoors or performing workouts.

Derm Choice:

4. Protect Over-Exposed Hands

Keep a spare pair of UPF 50+ gloves in your car to protect your hands.

Derm Choice:

5. Use Sun Blankets for On-the-Go

Pack a UPF 50+ sun blanket for handy sun protection when you’re out and about.

Derm Choice:

No Comments
This is Brave

Welcome to ‘This is Brave’

We’re on a Mission to Protect and Prevent in 2020

Warriors Advocate for Skin Cancer Prevention and Protection During a Pandemic

Coolibar launched This is Brave in 2018 when a young girl stepped up and reminded us all of the importance of advocating for and supporting individuals with skin cancer. When Quinn told her brother Graham to Be Brave, she was reminding us all that we can do this! We can battle through and no matter what the outcome might be, we’re better when we can Be Brave together.

In 2020, the third year of our This is Brave campaign and first year as the Official Apparel Partner of the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), our mission remains the same but the need for support is even greater. In the past few months, the world has shifted significantly in terms of patient care, research funding, and non-profit outreach. Key fundraising events like Miles for Melanoma have been postponed, and we’re working with the MRF and our community to find ways to continue funding life-saving research, and support patients and advocates across the country.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime whether there is a pandemic or not. #CancerHasNoCurve. The good news, the MRF and the greater melanoma community continues to be strong and active. Patients and advocates have done everything from taking the message of prevention and protection cross-country, to telling a neighbor to care for their skin and get checked. You are amazing. Everything you’re doing counts!

A lot will change forever in 2020, but the need for skin cancer prevention and protection will not. If you’re able, we’re asking you to support skin cancer awareness and the MRF this May, Melanoma Awareness Month. Here is how you can help:

  1. Read the awe-inspiring stories of our Brave warriors and share them with your friends and family. Awareness can save lives!
  2. Consider donating to the MRF. They’ve created wonderful virtual programs to ensure that the funding for research and education remains strong.
  3. Purchase a 2020 This is Brave UPF 50+ T-Shirt for yourself or send it to someone as a sun-safe gift for a cause. The proceeds go directly to the MRF.

Thank you for all that you do and remember…together we can BE BRAVE!

No Comments
Skin Diaries This is Brave

This is Brave: Jess Van Zeil

As long as I could remember, I’d had a red spot on the white of my left eye. In my late teens, it started to grow, change and become raised and irritating. After years of following this up with my general practitioner, I finally got referred to an ophthalmologist when I was 20. He did a biopsy, which came back benign (non-cancerous). Six months later, three very dark spots that resembled a skin mole grew on the same eye. I had the second biopsy done on these new spots and was officially diagnosed with conjunctival ocular melanoma at the age of 21 in January 2015.

When I was told I had ocular melanoma, the room became blurry, an overwhelming sea of emotion and fear came over me and drowned out everything he said following my diagnosis. Cancer, on my eye?! Can that even happen? Isn’t cancer for old people? Is my life basically over now? It had barely begun!

I felt nauseous, trapped and confused. I didn’t feel or look sick so how could my life potentially be on the line? I wondered how long it would be until this illness caught up with me and actually made me look and feel unwell. However, a few weeks passed, and nothing really changed.

I had a lot of check-ups until they informed me that my treatment plan would be watching and waiting. No chemo, no radiation, nothing. I was so confused. Grateful, but confused. It almost felt anticlimactic, such a scary diagnosis and yet all I needed to do was see my oncologist every six weeks.

Six months went by during which I had more biopsies which all came back benign. We started to relax, my appointments became less frequent and life went back to normal. Then, what felt like it happened overnight, I noticed five new spots on the white of my eye and a small lump underneath my eyelid in August 2015. I went to my general practitioner first and he called my ophthalmic oncologist’s office right away. I was booked in to see him a few days later.

I could tell my oncologist felt unsettled at this appointment, he didn’t like what he was seeing and booked another biopsy. All the new spots he removed came back positive for malignant melanoma. This was when the tune changed. Things escalated quickly and I was being told I was going to have to lose my eye and eyelids, and that they’d close over the socket for good in order to save my life.

I still remember the pain and anger I felt in the moment. The very normal life I had imagined for myself—the typical, all-American family life with a husband, a house and a great career—was ripped away in that moment. I went home that night and thought about my options. Very quickly, I realised that I would do whatever it took to save my life. The only real choice I had was whether or not I’d let this break me. Would I hide away from the world or would I find a way to embrace it?

Well, within a few days, I decided I wanted to embrace this new look and make it my own. I went online and found beautiful, bright eye-patches that were going to be my fabulous new fashion accessory. It took me less than 24-hours to embrace my diagnosis and the opportunities it presented.

On October 9th, 2015 I had an exenteration—complete surgical removal of my eye and the contents of my eye socket. The first few days I was in a lot of pain. I couldn’t keep food down and I slept in 90-minute cycles. On the fifth day I had the dressing taken off and got to see my new look for the first time. To best describe how I felt, I’ve taken an excerpt from my book Eye Won: Powerfully Positive, Ridiculously Resilient

“I almost bounded out of bed to see my new face. I expected to see someone foreign staring back at me, but I saw my bright familiar smile, my freckled cheeks, my button nose, my on-point eyebrows. The only difference, there was one eye staring back not two.”

I analyzed my face and saw a soft beauty in it and my smile brightened as I accepted the woman in the mirror as me. I silently told her that she was beautiful, strong, courageous and most importantly…still me. I tried out my new eye-patches and explored the world a little, embracing my new fashion accessory.

Life quickly went back to normal. Within a month, I was working, driving, studying and socializing. The only thing that had changed was I had a fun new accessory, my eye patch. Most importantly, it looked like we had eradicated the cancer! While the surgery had been challenging both physically and emotionally, I was grateful we’d done it and I could go back to living life as a twenty-something-year-old woman.

On September 9th, 2016 I remember sitting at home with my mum planning out how we were going to celebrate my first annual eye-versary when I had a seizure. I was raced to the hospital and told that the melanoma had spread to my brain and had become Stage IV Melanoma. My heart sank, I knew that everything I had faced up until this point had been child’s play in comparison to what I was about to face.

After having brain surgery to remove the cancer, I had to relearn how to walk and start an ipilimumab plus nivolumab (Ipi/Nivo) blend to prevent the development of more tumors. Looking back on that time, I know I felt terror. To get through it, I focused on what I was grateful for, the blessings I had and the things that made me smile.

More than anything else, the overwhelmingly beautiful feeling of gratitude is the first emotion that comes to mind when I think of my cancer journey.

Three and a half years after my brain surgery and I am thankfully still stable. I have such a beautiful appreciation for life and have accomplished so much. I completed my university degree during my treatment for Stage IV Melanoma. I hiked the Kokoda Trail in 2018, exactly two years after taking my first steps. I wrote and published my book Eye Won, which became a best seller in October 2019. And I got engaged to my incredible fiancé!

Cancer has taught me so much about myself and about the world. While it’s not something I would ever wish on anyone else, I would not be the woman I am today without it. For that I am grateful.

2 Comments
Show Buttons
Hide Buttons