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The Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic – Meet the Dirty Dozen

The Top 12 Foods to Buy Organic – Meet the Dirty Dozen

Did you know that nearly two-thirds of the 3,015 produce samples tested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 2013 contained pesticide residues? This is a surprising fact considering the rapid increase in consumer demand for food without agricultural chemicals.

In efforts to help educate shoppers, each year the Environmental Working Group (EWG) releases its report on pesticides in produce along with a list of foods that we should aim to buy organic – enter the Dirty Dozen. The EWG looks into the Department of Agriculture data surrounding pesticide residue and ranks foods based on how much or little they have. The EWG estimates that people can reduce their exposure by about 80% if they switch to organic when buying these foods. Now that makes spending a few extra dollars at the grocery store a bit more compelling, doesn’t it?

This year, apples, peaches, nectarines, strawberries, grapes, celery, spinach, sweet bell peppers, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes ranked the highest for pesticide residue. The average potato had more pesticides by weight than any other produce. Between 97-98% of apples, peaches and nectarines tested positive for at least one pesticide residue, while a single grape or sweet bell pepper sample contained up 15 pesticides.

In general, it’s good to get smart on what we put in our bodies so we can be the best, most healthy version of ourselves. Organic section, here we come!

Read the EWG’s 2015 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce here.

Skip right to the Dirty Dozen list here.

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Wellness Warriors

Travel Savvy Tips for Summer!

With summer around the corner, here are some tips from Coolibar and Hotels.com on how to travel smart.

Take advantage of free travel. Free loyalty programs like Hotels.com® Rewards offer complimentary travel simply for signing up. The Hotels.com program rewards members with a free* night after they stay 10.

If you’re planning a road trip, pack the car the night before. This will help to ensure you don’t forget anything the following morning. You will also be able to leave first thing in the morning to help beat traffic going out of town.

Pack appropriately for your destination. Check the weather in advance so you’re prepared, but don’t pack too heavily. If you’re unsure if you will need an item or not, leave it at home. If all else fails, you can purchase most forgotten items once you arrive. Even if the forecast is clear, it’s always a good idea to pack an umbrella or a multipurpose scarf to protect you from the rain and sun.

Ask locals for their recommendations. They are usually happy to steer you in the right direction of a great restaurant, store, or monument to visit.

Prepare for the sun. Whether you’re traveling to the beach or somewhere that may be overcast, you and your family will be exposed to the sun’s harmful rays. Pack plenty of sunscreen as many travel destinations increase the prices or don’t sell it at all. To reduce the hassle of applying sunscreen every two hours, cover up with sun protective clothing for any outdoor activity! Don’t forget to protect your eyes too by wearing polarized sunglasses.

Separate your sources of money and bring extra cash. It’s never wise to keep your money all in one place. You also don’t want to find yourself in an unfamiliar place with a credit or debit card that does not work, so it’s always wise to have some cash handy.

ev (2)Prepare your kids. If your kids are not accustomed to traveling, let them know how long it will take to arrive at your destination. Pack snacks and activities to keep them occupied. Be sure you have all the necessary documents for you and your family to travel, such as your passport. Don’t forget to make copies as a backup.

Have fun and make unforgettable memories! Through the month of June, Hotels.com is offering Coolibar fans 10% off using code MOBNEW10. Don’t hesitate and book your vacation today! Coolibar is also donating $1 to the ACS for every order placed at Coolibar.com, up to $25,000. You can help spread the #SkinSmart message with your friends and family, and raise money for a great cause! Please visit www.coolibar.com/skinsmart for shareable tips and information.

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Wellness Warriors

How to Protect Your Skin From Premature Aging

Protecting your skin from the sun has more benefits than you may think. Not only does it help prevent skin cancer. It’s an important step to prevent premature aging and keep you looking your best.

evJulianne Moore recently announced her secret to flawless skin is sunscreen. She uses it on a daily basis, and you should too. Studies show that regular use of sunscreen protects your skin from photoaging, which results in wrinkles, brown spots, and loss of elasticity. These signs of aging can be prevented, or minimized with the use of sunscreen and sun protective clothing. Some of our favorite sunscreens include AquaSport, CoTZ Plus, Vanicream, Total Block and SolBar  all available on our website!

Sun-protective clothing is a relatively new development in the U.S., while it has been a staple in Australia for several decades. With the U.S. Surgeon General declaring skin cancer an epidemic, the Skin Cancer Foundation recommends sun-protective clothing as a first line of defense. It can also minimize aging in sensitive areas such as the décolletage, neck, knees and elbows. With the latest styles for beach, water and outdoor lifestyles, you can look terrific and be protected in fabrics that provide UPF 50+ protection for the life of the garment.

ev (1)Your face, neck and ears may all come to mind when you think of the importance of sun protection, but what about your hands? Unless you wear gloves everyday, your hands receive a considerable amount of sun exposure over time. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 90 percent of visible skin changes are due to exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Be sure to use a moisturizer with SPF 15 or more to protect your hands from sun damage. And don’t forget your nails! They are also susceptible to melanoma. Gloves made with sun-protective fabric are also a good choice for gardening, outdoor chores, and even driving.

ev (2)Another overlooked area is hair. The sun can damage hair, and signs that your hair may be sun damaged include dryness, split ends, loss of strength, and brittle or breakable hair. A great way to protect your hair is to wear a broad-brimmed hat or scarf made from sun-protective fabric, which will also protect your face, ears, and neck. Coolibar has many options for women, men, and children.

No matter your age, it’s always a good time to begin protecting your skin from the sun! You don’t need to invest in multiple anti-aging creams anymore. Using quality sunscreen every day, with sun protective hats and clothing will help you achieve the best possible looking skin.

Welcome back to health, happiness, and fun in the sun!

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Wellness Warriors

Seven Tips for Your Family’s Spring Break

Spring break is not just for college students. It’s a terrific time to get away with your family. Here are some key tips you should know before taking your family on a spring break trip. 

Make your trip educational. Learn about the area you and your family plan to visit. Take time to explore nearby cities, museums, parks, and libraries, which can all offer great opportunities to create a more well rounded trip for little to no cost.

UntitledPrepare to travel. If your kids are not accustomed to traveling on an airplane, or in the car for a long period of time, explain your travel plans to them in advance. Pack plenty of snacks and prepare activities to keep them occupied. You may even need distractions for both your kids and yourself! If you’re traveling by car, be sure to have a full-body inspection prior to your trip. If you’re traveling by plane, consider purchasing travel insurance.178607548

Pack appropriately. Check the weather at your destination, and pack accordingly. Even if the forecast is clear, it’s always a good idea to bring along an umbrella. You can also consult HuffPost Travel for a handy list of things that are most commonly forgotten.

Prepare for the sun. No matter where you’re going, you will need sunscreen with a minimum SPF 30. Neutrogena’s sunscreen line is one of our favorites. To reduce the hassle of reapplying and tears from your little ones, our sun protective clothing is a great option for the whole family. Also, don’t forget sun hats and UV protective eyewear!

3Stick to your healthy routine. You work hard to eat right and get in shape before you travel, don’t blow it when you go. You may allow yourself to have a cheat meal, but don’t let it snowball through the rest of the trip. You can also pack protein-filled snacks, search restaurants in advance, and eat every two to three hours. Find additional healthy-eating tips for travel here.

Protect your home. Let your neighbor know when you will be traveling, and ask them to keep an eye on your home. You can also create the illusion that someone is home by placing lights on a timer. Be sure to lock all windows and doors before your departure, and set your alarm system. Depending on how long you plan to be away, it is also a good idea to either stop your mail delivery, or have a trusted neighbor pick it up.

Don’t break the bank. Before you leave, make a grocery list for your destination. This can help you enjoy your trip, spend less money, and create memorable experiences with your family. However, remember you are on vacation! Consider splurging on at least one fancy meal one day, and some family-fun activities.

Be mindful of your social media activity. Do not post anything about your trip until you return, and establish rules for posting with the whole family. If you can’t resist sharing, turn off location tracking, and don’t use check-ins to let others know where you and your family are.

Have fun and take plenty of family photos! 

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Wellness Warriors

What’s Your Ultimate Resort Destination?

Canyon Ranch Tucson - Guest Room

With the launch of our new Resort Collection, we’ve pondered the whole concept of the “resort experience.” Our new collection of colors and prints can help show what we decided. You’ll love the look right away. Once you slip into it, you’ll find it’s also about being comfortable – for wherever you go, whatever you’re doing and whenever you’re doing it.

Traveling to an actual resort is optional, but desirable. In fact, while we were dreaming up our Resort Collection, we dreamed up some of our favorite resort destinations. See if you agree!

Canyon Ranch,Tucson, Arizona

Canyon Ranch Tucson
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

A unique and original blend of upscale comfort and deep well-being. This place has evolved with the times – once a cattle ranch, then a classic guest ranch, now a fitness spa resort in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Actually, it’s an all-inclusive health resort and luxury spa. That sounds impressive, and it is; Canyon ranch has been a driving force as the entire concept of a “health resort” has taken off.

Suggested look: Ocean Glimmer Antigua Tunic

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, Vista, California

Cal a Vie Resort
Courtesy of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

For all of its hundreds – yes, hundreds – of spa treatments, fitness activities and mind-body-spirit classes, we can’t help but notice how simple and elemental this California health spa resort is. Particularly impressive is that the resort balances this active and/or meditative experience with a passion for fresh, local cuisine. And just for good measure, there’s golf at the resort’s Vista Valley Country Club.

Suggested look: Banded Fitness Tee with Swim Capris

Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

Law
Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Everything you could ask for in a wellness retreat: a lake (in this case, Austin Lake) for Paddle Fit, Aqua Zumba or just a mild boat cruise; the Lakehouse Spa with two pools, steam rooms and a café; luxury guest and garden rooms; five course meals and more. Bonus: all of this is surrounded by the incomparable Texas Hill Country.

Suggested look: ZnO Sun Wrap outfit

 

Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Courtesy of Omni Hotels & Resorts

If you’re thinking about visiting a spa on an island, you’ll find that here. But around it you’ll also discover a world-class resort, and all that that implies: a tiered pool complex including a splash park, a fully-equipped fitness center (think LCD TV screens) and a championship golf course for starters. The resort also provides a variety of ways to explore the island, for you and your whole family.  

Suggested look: Sport Polo with Zip Off Sun Visor

Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort & Spa, Los Cabos, Mexico

La Casa Dorada Resort Los Cabos
Courtesy of la Casa Dorada Resort

This is a truly impressive getaway that you’ll have almost as much fun telling people about as you will on the actual trip. A highlight is the saltwater spa – if you can tear yourself away from the pools, the four restaurants, the luxurious accommodations and the best swimmable beach in Cabo. This is for the whole family, too – pets included.

Suggested look: Convertible Swim Shirt outfit

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Wellness Warriors

Coolibar Asks: What Does Yoga Mean to You?

Coolibar - Yoga

We’ve been thinking about yoga a lot lately. We can’t help it. When you’re promoting sun protection, health, happiness and peace of mind, yoga just naturally comes up.

Do you practice yoga? If you do, what does it mean to “practice yoga?”

At one extreme are the hardcore enthusiasts.  You may have heard that yoga can relieve stress, improve digestion, balance the metabolism and strengthen the immune system. These folks will tell you yoga is about cleansing the bioemotional self, toning the endocrinal system, coordinating the musculoskeletal structure, creating a union between our physical and emotional beings.  It decreases cortisol and adrenalin, which co-opt the production of vital hormones! It promotes and balances neurotransmitters, and inverted postures re-balance the pituitary and thyroid glands!

Corresponding to this knowledge is a full range of classes. There’s hot yoga, restorative yoga, yin yoga, power yoga, and the list goes on.

Other people, as we’ve read, just like wearing the clothes. This is okay too; we know that not everyone wearing a North Face jacket is an experienced High Alps mountain climber either. And when you’re trying to attain a fully integrated mind and body, total comfort certainly helps.

At Coolibar we think our understanding of yoga is pretty balanced between the neurobiologists and those who just look the part.

“I just needed a form of physical activity that I didn’t dread,” says Heather Olson, Wholesale Operations Manager at Coolibar. She says she’s been practicing yoga for about two years, drawn to it by a background in dance with its balance and flexibility. “It’s a way to get a workout – and have fun.”

Coolibar Yoga
Kelly Johnson in Coolibar Banded Fitness Tee, Active Swim Tights

Kelly Johnson, Coolibar Customer Service Manager, thinks so too. “It’s a slower pace of exercise,” she says. “I’m not the type of person who likes to go to the gym and pump weights and run on the treadmill. I like the mediation aspect, too, to calm my mind, re-center and relax.”

About that last part: yoga can be especially practical if you’re living what we might refer to as a full life.

“I get stressed out easily,” Kelly says. “And I have a five-year-old. So yoga is my alone time.”

What kind of yogi (that would be, “one who practices yoga”) are you? Tell us about it!

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Guest Post: A Call to Action from a Skin Cancer Survivor

Megan Ramey

NOTE: This post by Megan Ramey first appeared July 29 on Cancer Candor, a blog from Chris Hanson, President, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). It appeared on the same day that the US Surgeon General released a call to action to prevent skin cancer in which he called the disease a major public health problem. “I wanted impress upon my readers why it is so important that our nation has an action plan for dealing with this devastating cancer by sharing Megan’s powerful story,” Mr. Hanson said.

My name is Megan Ramey and I was diagnosed with stage III melanoma in 2010, just weeks before my 21st birthday. With blonde hair, blue eyes and fair skin I am the walking definition of someone who should take extra precautions when it comes to UV exposure. Four years post diagnosis I look back on the choices I made and feel a large amount of regret for not being cautious enough. Melanoma is a unique cancer in that most cases directly results from our behavior. We can choose to protect ourselves in the sun and we can choose to stay away from tanning beds. I admit I did not take the risks seriously.

Growing up in Minnesota my family and I cherished our beautiful summers.  Whether we were at the lake or by my family pool we were outside from sun up to sun down. I used sunscreen here and there but not nearly enough to prevent several painful sunburns over the years. When I reached high school, I began using tanning beds before school dances, vacations and figure skating competitions. I thought that tanning beds were a safer way to obtain a tan. In college, going to the tanning salon was a common activity amongst my friends. Being tan was considered attractive.  Everyone was doing it. When you are young, you don’t think about the consequences of your actions and how they can impact your future. Had I been better educated about skin cancer (specifically melanoma) and taken the warnings seriously, my life could very well be entirely different from what is today.

When I was first diagnosed with melanoma, the summer between my junior and senior year of college became a whirlwind of scans, surgeries, oncology visits and one month of high dose immune building chemotherapy (interferon). Luckily all scans since my initial diagnosis have come back NED (or no evidence of disease), meaning I have no active cancer cells to worry about at the moment. Melanoma is tricky. Even if you are lucky enough to be labeled NED, it could reoccur at any moment. Knowing this, I made a choice to complete two years of low dose interferon in hopes that the medication will continue to help my immune system ward off active melanoma cells. Currently, I live my life in 6 month increments never knowing when the next scan will show trouble. A recurrence of melanoma is never far from my mind, and one of my biggest fears. My life at 25 is unlike anything that I could have imagined.

Melanoma awareness is an important part of my life. I am part of a local non-profit group called Melanoma Awareness Minnesota. This group is active in the community, participating in health fairs, expos and presenting to local high school students the dangers of melanoma. I recently had the opportunity to work with the ACS CAN here in Minnesota to pass the tanning legislation prohibiting minors from using commercial tanning beds. I enjoy sharing my story with anyone who will listen. When it comes to melanoma, education is key! Knowledge saves lives. The CDC and Surgeon General released today a call to action on skin cancer. Their support and assistance sends a strong message to the general public about just how dangerous and prevalent skin cancer can be. The numbers are staggering; millions of people every year are being diagnosed with melanoma. Something needs to change and I think this call to action is going to be a significant step in the right direction!

Megan Ramey is a courageous ACS CAN volunteer from Minnesota. At age 21, after several years of indoor tanning, Megan was diagnosed with melanoma, the deadliest form of skin cancer. Megan bravely shares her story with teens with the hope that they will avoid indoor tanning salons and protect their skin from ultraviolet (UV) exposure. 

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Staying Positive, Staying Aggressive

Tim Fater - Coolibar

Coolibar wraps up our official Melanoma Survivor Series with Tim Fater, a Rhode Island native whose sense of adventure has never wavered (we suspect it’s actually gotten stronger) following his diagnosis and treatment. Melanoma Month is almost over, but we’ll share additional stories throughout the year. Tell us yours!

Tim Fater noticed the first sign of melanoma in December of 2003. It wasn’t ominous; just an unusual freckle on his right forearm. Tim was 19 then, a junior at Fairfield University in Connecticut. He was also preparing for a semester abroad in Australia.

His mother, a nurse, urged him to get the freckle checked out before the trip. A biopsy was performed and a follow-up phone call told him the results were benign.

“I went to Australia,” Tim says now, “and burned for six months.”

The Adventure Begins

Following his graduation in 2005, Tim took off on another adventure. “I was doing the classic backpack trip across Europe,” he says. “While sitting on the train, I noticed the hints of a subtle re-growth emerging from the scar on my forearm where that initial excision had taken place. When I got back to the States, I immediately scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist to have the growth examined.”

Tim noticed that more doctors were involved this time, and that they were talking a lot more than usual. “I could tell by the way this was being treated that thiTim Fater - Melanoma Foundation New Englands was something serious, although no one wanted to admit it until we knew for certain,” Tim says. Finally the news came back: malignant melanoma. In fact, it had been all along.

Then it was a whirlwind: shock, fear, confusion. “It’s just really hard,” Tim says. “Especially for your parents, to see the fear on their faces.”

Looking back, Tim believes the disease was pretty certainly enabled by sun exposure during his childhood in Newport, Rhode Island; he was “always outside…whether it was sailing, surfing, golfing or working at an outdoor bar on the beach.”

This annual summer routine rarely included sunscreen, or anyone advising sun safety.

He and his family immediately transferred from Newport to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, Massachusetts. “I remember one of my first meetings with the dermatologist very clearly,” Tim says. “The dermatologist that day informed me that a patient in my situation, with the recurrence, depth of the disease and the amount of time that had elapsed, had a five- year survival rate of 50 percent.” This was consistent with a Stage IIIB melanoma diagnosis.

The resulting surgery and skin grafting claimed most of Tim’s right forearm, along with the lymph nodes in his right armpit. This was followed by interferon treatments – an initial five weeks of intravenous deliveries and plenty of cold-sweat discomfort – “they call it shake and bake,” Tim says – followed by 11 months of self-administered injections.

Aggressive, Yet Positive

Here is what else Tim remembers: “I committed myself to a positive outlook; I taught myself to disregard such negative news which I knew could be lurking around the corner at any time. At that point everything was one day at a time.”

In considering this battle, though, one shouldn’t confuse being positive with being passive. Tim says that from the start he had decided to be aggressive in treating the disease; at such a young age, he was determined to navigate what is always a significant disturbance in one’s life and live as close to normal as possible.

That has included educating himself, as well as a great deal of educating others about melanoma. People share the initial whirlwind: what is it? Where did it come from? When people ask how he “got” melanoma, Tim says he tells them: it is one-third sun; one-third genes; and one-third “nobody really knows.”

Still, he says, “this might be the most frustrating part of the whole experience – the fact that skin cancer is, for the most part, very preventable.”

Today Tim Fater is a CPA and works as a Senior Staff Accountant at Harvard Kennedy School of Government. He is married; he is an avid skier and a photographer. He is active in several melanoma-related causes. He has also spoken about melanoma at schools throughout New England.

Tim has remained aggressive through all of the doctor’s appointments, skin checks, scans and follow-ups that come with a melanoma diagnosis. There has been no sign of the disease since the fall of 2005.

He’s also remained positive.

“People get caught up with all the little things, and now after fighting melanoma you have more to fall back on,” Tim says. “You know: don’t worry about the small stuff.”

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Minnesota Becomes Eighth State to Ban Indoor Tanning for Teens

MN State Capitol - teen tanning ban

The months-long debate over teen tanning in Minnesota ended on May 23 when Governor Mark Dayton signed HF2402 into law. Effective August 1, 2014:

– No one under the age of 18 may use a commercial indoor tanning facility in Minnesota.

– All tanning facilities must prominently display a sign to that effect.

– Tanning facility owners/operators who violate the law are subject to a misdemeanor penalty as determined by a judge.

The American Academy of Dermatology Association commended the approval of the bill in Consumer Affairs, pointing out that “dermatologists contend the risk for developing melanoma increases by 59% in people who use indoor tanning devices, and the risks increase with each subsequent use.”

In March, Coolibar (based in Minneapolis, MN) visited the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul for a day of lobbying on behalf of the bill then known as the Minnesota Skin Cancer Prevention Act (SF 1901). This effort was in conjunction with the American Cancer Society – Cancer Action Network.

Here is an updated list of US states that either prohibit indoor tanning or are considering it:

  • Louisiana – just passed a law banning the use of tanning beds by anyone under 18
  • Pennsylvania – Just passed a law prohibiting tanning bed use by anyone under 16
  • Indiana – Just passed a law banning the use of tanning beds for those 16 & under
  • Nebraska – Prohibits tanning bed use by anyone under 16
  • Washington – Bans the use of tanning beds for anyone under 18
  • California – Bans tanning bed use for anyone under 18
  • Illinois – Bans tanning bed use for anyone under 18
  • Nevada – Bans tanning bed use for anyone under 18
  • Texas – Bans tanning bed use for anyone under 18
  • Oregon – Bans tanning bed use for anyone under 18
  • Connecticut – Bans tanning bed use for those under 17
  • New Jersey – Bans tanning bed use for those under 17
  • Vermont – Bans tanning bed use for those under 17
  • Wisconsin – Bans tanning bed use for those under 16
  • Hawaii – Bill recently passed in state legislature would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 18
  • Missouri – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 17

About 15 other US states have some form of restriction, such as a parental consent requirement, for teens using indoor tanning equipment.

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Beyond Scared: A Spirited Mom Fights Back

Georgina Kerstin Thrill Ride - Coolibar Melanoma Survivor Series

As Melanoma Awareness Month continues, so does the Coolibar Melanoma Survivor Series. This week: Georgina Kerstin of Naperville, Illinois.

Georgina Kerstin first felt the itch on her right calf in late spring, 2006. The source was a mole just below the knee. At the time, she was a busy mother of two – maybe a little too busy, a “doer” mom with a lively spark that made her ambitions slightly bigger than her calendar. She did not get to the doctor for a biopsy until July.

“When the call came and I heard the words, ‘you have melanoma,’ I didn’t know what life had in store for me,” she says. “Until you hear those words, you don’t understand. My doctor proceeded to tell me she already scheduled an appointment with the ‘melanoma doc’ in Chicago.

“I was beyond scared.”

The first surgery was scheduled at the beginning of August. Georgina was diagnosed with early Stage III melanoma; microscopic metastasis was found in her sentinel lymph node. Two weeks after the first surgery came another, a right thigh dissection that removed 13 more lymph nodes.

“By the grace of God, all of those lymph nodes were clean,” Georgina says.

A Tough Decision

The doctor told her that her only option was to undergo high-dose interferon treatments for one year. Melanoma survivors Georgina Kerstin and familyknow that this treatment tends to me tough on the body, But for Georgina, it would afford a seven percent better chance against recurrence.

“That is not a large number to be sick while on treatment for one year,” Georgina says today. “I thought, okay, I can handle this, but this is a year.  Do I do this? Do I not do this? What if I don’t do it and the melanoma comes back? I’m gonna kick myself. What if I don’t do this and I end up dying?”

These were just the surface thoughts. The kids were 18 months and four and a half years old. Georgina’s job as a mother had just begun. Her schedule was very busy and active as a stay-at-home mom. Her husband struggled with the diagnosis as well – he had trouble with Georgina being sick at all. It was, to understate it greatly, a very difficult time.

The final choice: no interferon. “I just refused to let it beat me,” Georgina says. “This is my game, and I will win. You have an 18-month-old and a four-year-old and you have no other choice.”

A New Lifestyle

Instead, Georgina revamped her life – backward and forward. “This whole thing taught me how to be more in tune with my body,” she says. “I look back and go, ‘yeah, I had two young kids, I was run down, I was sleep deprived.’ And that’s how the melanoma had its way with my body. Because I was not taking care of myself.”

Yoga was “the best decision ever,” she says, to remain healthy in mind, body and spirit. She’s also lost 30 pounds, and kept it off.

The biggest change: her attitude about life and people. “I don’t have a filter anymore,” Georgina says. “I’ve learned about not having a problem with, if there’s a negative person in my life, to just cut them out. I am honest. I say the truth because I don’t have time for anything else.

“I am the bouncer from hell. This is my party, and this is my body, and melanoma is not welcome.”

Spokesperson for Sun Safety

True to form, Georgina pulls very few punches about melanoma and the rest of the world. “You can blame the media because of what they’re portraying – what we’re supposed to look like,” she says, “even though a lot of them get their spray tans. People say, ‘I have to get a tan, I have to fit a certain mold.’ And those of us who have had this battle, we’ve learned our lesson. Because in the ‘80s all I did was lay out and fry myself. And here I am.

“And I guess because of my life experience with the melanoma I’m like ‘whatever.’ I just do my own thing. I just want to have a nice peaceful life. I want to have balance and raise my kids to be good citizens. I want to live my life and enjoy it to the fullest.”

Thrill Ride - Melanoma Survivor Georgina KerstinGeorgina says her long-term goal is to educate friends, family and community on sun safety, and raise funds for research to further treatment options for melanoma patients. “I want to use my experience to show people how the sun rays are dangerous and melanoma is preventable with simple precautions,” she says. “I also have plans to have my own foundation someday, Mommies Against Melanoma, and would like to educate the children in our community on sun safety.

Georgina remains a spirited, busy mom – the spark is still there, but it’s balanced by a certain grace. Her children are nine and 12 years old now, and they are still her focus. She’s a volunteer at the local elementary school as the president of the Home and School Association.

She has also remained NED (no evidence of disease). In August, she will be eight years NED. “Until you hear those words I will still have anxiety,” she says. “You don’t count yourself eight years until it’s actually eight years. I don’t take anything for granted. I know what the disease is capable of doing.”

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