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Wellness Warriors

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Thankful for the Chance to Spread an Important Message

Duane Braswell is a recent skin cancer survivor whom is thankful for many things this holiday season. After being diagnosed with both basal cell carcinoma and melanoma in August 2011 and having his cancer cells successfully excised, he came to the conclusion that there is not enough awareness around the dangers of skin cancer. With the support of his family, friends and outside donors, Duane has arranged to complete a 2,500 mile bike circuit starting in Phoenix, AZ and ending in Washington, DC to raise awareness and money for skin cancer research.

Duane’s story:

I was diagnosed in August 2011 with several basal cell carcinoma cancers and melanoma. What a shock to hear the word “cancer” and your name in the same sentence! This is something everyone knows can happen, but we never expect it will happen to us.

Prior to the cancer I only wore a hat and sunscreen if I remembered or thought I would be outside for an extended period of time. When we were  kids, we just dealt with sunburns and didn’t think twice about it. After all of the cancerous cells were cut out in mid-October, I now wear my hat almost everywhere I go – plus it looks good anyway!

The biggest hit was realizing that even though I made my family a priority over my career, I still did not realize how fragile life is and how precious my time with my family is. The hardest thing was looking at my kids and thinking I might not be there for their children or even my youngest child’s graduation. I had never considered these things before my diagnosis, when I was ignoring my mole and ‘spots.’

Now, I am looking forward to spending five weeks with my son going cross country and showing him how great people are to visit and talk with. We leave May 13, 2012 from Phoenix and will arrive in Washington DC at the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) center by the end of June. We will be traveling 2,500 miles; enjoying our time together and sharing with others the importance of covering up in the sun and wearing a hat. We hope to raise $10,000 for the MRF through exposure on TV, radio as well as the internet. Both my son and I want to hear someone went and got checked for skin cancer because we talked to them.

After the ‘cancer’ scare, my oldest daughter had two moles removed when visiting the dermatologist. She told me it would be foolish to miss out on life because of something so small. Hers moles were VERY early and required no stitches. Mine were nearly too late and required over 60 stitches that we could count. It is so easy to prevent skin cancer, and so costly if we do not.

– Duane Braswell

P.S. My doctor recommended your products to me and I really love them.

Check back in May for a trip update!

Duane posing in his Coolibar gear with the bike that will be accompanying him on a 2,500 mile ride to raise funds for melanoma research
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School sun safety Wellness Warriors

Mission Possible: Protecting Kids from the Sun

Sun protection is a passionate subject for many people who have been impacted by cancer. Ellery, a high school freshman and Girl Scout, has been involved in fundraisers for treatments and cures of cancers. For the past year, Ellery has been working hard to earn her Girl Scout Silver Award, the second highest award a Girl Scout can earn, which gives girls the chance to show their dedication to improving the community. Now, Ellery has made it her mission to help educate young students and school officials about sun protection and show them that it’s possible to effectively, and inexpensively, protect students from the sun’s harmful UV rays during outdoor recess and activities.

From Ellery:

When I was starting to think about my Girl Scout Silver Award project, I decided to do something to focus on prevention of disease such as cancer. Living in sunny California, and because I am a swimmer and in the sun a lot, I decided to focus on sun-safety awareness. In my research, I learned that sun exposure related cancers can sometimes be prevented with good sun protection beginning at a young age. The Environmental Protection Agency says that unprotected exposure to ultraviolet light, a known human carcinogen, is the most preventable risk factor for skin cancer. Of course, there are risk factors which cannot be controlled, and some people will get skin cancer regardless. I wanted my project to focus on prevention and be different from fund raising programs that I had been involved in. Through my research on sun-safety, I learned that in much of Australia, school kids are required to wear sun-hats as part of their school uniform. I thought this was a really smart idea, because it teaches kids to be aware of the sun’s effects at an early age, and it helps them with the one aspect of skin cancer we can control – sun exposure.

Students Wearing Their Coolibar Sun Hats

I developed a test case, called “Hats for Mates”, to see if it’s feasible for the kids here in Folsom to wear sun hats at recess. Fortunately, the principal at Folsom Hills Elementary School agreed to let me do my project at Folsom Hills. With private donations and affordable sun protective hats from the Coolibar School Sun Hat Program, Mrs. Hardy’s and Mr. Garcia’s kindergarten class received sun hats for their 32 students to use for the test. On the first day I presented a poster board with different sun safety activities to the kids and made a sun safety speech to the kindergarten class. After the presentation, I gave the kids their own sun hats to wear for all of following week. The student’s families were very supportive, and the only concern they raised was regarding sharing hats and lice. I addressed this by having one hat per student, with their name on it and having each student store their hat in their cubbies.

School staff were curious to find out if the hats would be a distraction on the playground. I went back to the school the following week to check up on the class. I asked them questions about the week, such as who wore the hats on the first day, who liked to wear them and why. Only three out of thirty-two kids did not like wearing the hats. The yard duty staff said there were no problems and the kids controlled the hats. The staff in the office also said there were no complaints or negative comments from the kid’s parents or other staff members. The school principal said “Ellery’s project shows that a sun-hat program in our schools is feasible and makes sense in a sunny climate like ours”. The Hats for Mates week at Folsom Hills was a success and showed that a hat program could work in public schools in Folsom.

-Ellery

Learn more about the Coolibar School Sun Hat Program

Ellery Teaching Kindergarten Class About Sun Protection
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Wellness Warriors

OneVillage Partners in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone, located in West Africa, is one of the poorest nations in the world. While mineral, agricultural and fishery resources are abundant, its physical and social infrastructure have not fully recovered from the civil war that ended in 2002, and social disorder has hindered economic development. Coolibar’s friends at OneVillage Partners, a Minneapolis, MN based non-profit, have been working with people in Eastern Sierra Leone since 2006 to provide assistance to rural villages and stimulate growth within these deprived communities.

From Paul Vliem at OneVillage Partners:

OneVillage Partner’s goal is to identify a model of rural development that, simply put, works. In order to be successful, OneVillage works in partnership alongside villagers to transform problems into solutions. We provide access to information and technology not easily available in Sierra Leone, while the villagers drive their own development by identifying their own needs and possible solutions. Our partners live on less than a dollar a day with limited food, so we find an appropriate balance between relieving the immediate need and suffering while delivering programs that focus on longer term growth and empowerment. We pride ourselves on collaboration rather than management or oversight and seek to develop the organizational management capacity of our Sierra Leonean staff to work in full partnership.

Many development organizations operate short-term with specific and actionable projects, which although important, are rarely able to create long-term, improved quality of life for their beneficiaries due to their piecemeal nature. For this reason, OVP strives to be holistic and comprehensive by investing simultaneously across areas which greatly affect village life. We operate in the five distinct yet mutually-reinforcing areas of water and sanitation, health, education, agriculture, and income generation. Growth in one area undoubtedly affects success in another area. For example, with greater crop yields households are better able to practice nutrition, which results in healthier children who are better able to concentrate in school.

OVP is building 75 compost latrines in three villages to cut down on infectious disease

We invest in the essential building blocks of an economy – micro business loans, agricultural improvements, secondary education, and global connections – that allow villagers to increase their income.  Throughout our work, we strategically implement and rigorously evaluate our investments to achieve measurable results. Through this approach, OVP is working with villages to create tangible, positive impact that sets the groundwork for continued, sustained development in each of these communities.

Learn more about OneVillage Partnership’s work and opportunities at http://www.onevillagepartners.org/.

OVP and Coolibar continually work together to protect the volunteers helping the rural village of Sierra Leone by providing sun protective clothing to protect skin from Africa’s intense sun.

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About OneVillage Partners Video

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Wellness Warriors

Providing Sun Protection to Sailors

Brenda Scannell

Sun protection is important for everyone, but especially for sailors who spend most of their days in or by water. The FDA advises using extra caution near water and sand because these surfaces reflect damaging UV rays and increase your chance of sunburn, premature aging of the skin and skin cancer.

Brenda Scannell is a huge fan of sailing and recently took over the Q-Mart sailing apparel and gear store at the Quissett Yacht Club (QYC) located in Falmouth, MA on Cape Cod. She has also made it a priority to provide all of the 2011 QYC summer sailing instructors, the role models within the club, with Coolibar sun protective swim shirts and sun hats.

So why provide these instructors with sun protective clothing? Turns out Brenda knows a thing or two about sailing and why it’s a brilliant idea to forgo a bikini for a UPF 50+ swim shirt.

Brenda lived the first ten summers of her life on a wooden boat and then came to Quissett in 1978. For ten years, she raced Herreshoffs, a historically significant type of sailboat. Then, Brenda was forced to take a break from sailing when she was diagnosed with skin cancer. “I’ve had 18 Squamous Cell Cancer surgeries below my knees. My regular dermatologist at Mass General Hospital said, ‘Be sure to tell your group that any one of them could have killed you!'”

After this life altering experience, Brenda, her sons, and her husband decided to ‘pay it forward’ as they know sun protection is key in preventing skin cancer. “In my name, and as a gesture to me, my sons and husband decided to fund Sun Protective Clothing for the 2011 sailing instructors,” says Brenda. Both of her sons Matt, the lead singer, writer and guitarist of the band Vertical Horizon, and Ryan, a Reconstructive Surgeon in Otolaryngology, Ear, Nose, and Throat, went through the QYC sailing program. Brenda says, “Ryan deals with so much skin cancer. He has seen terrible things! Regarding the sailing instructors and sun protection he said, ‘Mom, whatever it takes, make it happen!'”

QYC Sailing Instructors
QYC sailing instructors sporting their Coolibar hats and rash guards

Brenda asked each QYC sailing instructor go to the Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing website, which was recommended to Brenda by her Mohs Surgeon, to choose a UPF 50+ Swim Shirt and Hat to have red QYC Logos embroidered on so they could wear protective swim shirts during their sailing classes. Brenda also told the instructors that she is now bringing Sun Protective Clothing to the Q-Mart for the sailing class students to purchase. “You [the instructors] are the role models. If the students see you wearing these clothes, they will follow suit as YOU ARE THEIR HEROES!”

Sun protective clothing has been worn at the club over the past few years, but now, sailors are taking sun protection more seriously. “Our lives at Quissett are spent outdoors all of the time on the boats and the beach,” says Brenda. “All are truly positive about the sun protective clothing that is being provided. I feel that the sailing instructors might have some resistance  to  the protective clothing in very hot weather, but the answer to that is to wet the shirt and the sailor is immediately cooled down. I know we’ll continue to promote sun safety at the QYC in the future.”

women's swim shirt in navy
Coolibar Women's Swim Shirt
men's swim shirt in navy
Coolibar Men's Swim Shirt
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SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Stay Out of the Sun Run 2011

On May 20, 2011, the Stay Out of the Sun Run (SOSR) Foundation held their 6th annual walk/race in Rochester, MN to promote awareness of the dangers of sun exposure and support melanoma research and education.  All proceeds from the SOSR are donated to the Mayo Clinic Cancer Center for melanoma research and education. Coolibar was there to contribute to the run for the 5th consecutive year.

The founder of the SOSR, Tim Burriss, a Melanoma survivor, started the run to benefit melanoma research and education. He states that this year’s run had a record number of registered participants, 934! The most they’ve ever had. Not even the dreary, rainy weather before the event kept people away.

So far, not counting this year’s totals, the run has raised over $120,000 to help Mayo Clinic fight melanoma. Tim says, “Melanoma has had such an impact on so many individuals and families and we realize we cannot be content but must continue our fight!”

Skin cancer education and prevention is so important, especially with summer almost being here. So this Don’t Fry Day, May 27, Coolibar wishes to remind everyone to be SunAWARE and protect yourself from the sun.

Avoid unprotected sun exposure; Wear sun-protective clothing, wide brim hat (3” brim or greater), and UV sunglasses; Apply broad-spectrum sunscreen of SPF 30 or higher every two hours while in sun; Routinely check your whole body for changes in your skin; Educate your family and community about sun protection.

Perhaps even join a fundraising or educational effort like the SOSR in your area and help support the need for sun protection!


Video footage of the Stay Out of the Sun Run and melanoma survivor feature from NBC Rochester local news

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Congrats to our Coolibar team members who walked and participated in the 5K at the SOSR! You all looked spectacular in your Coolibar sun protection clothing!

Learn more about Skin Cancer and Melanoma from the American Academy of Dermatology

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Success Stories SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Cindy Combats Basal Cell Carcinoma

One day, out of the blue, Cindy found a suspicious spot of skin on her nose. This spot ended up being Basal Cell Carcinoma, the most common form of skin cancer, which affects almost two million Americans each year according to the Skin Cancer Foundation. Cindy shares her story to remind us of the importance of being SunAWARE.

Cindy’s Story

I was a 48-year-old sun worshipper when I discovered a flake of skin on my nose that would not heal. It appeared to be just a piece of dry skin until I washed my face one day and the spot began to bleed.

I made an appointment with my dermatologist and she took a biopsy. I returned a week later to have the stitches taken out and told her that the spot that flaked was not exactly on the spot that she biopsied. The biopsy came back negative and she assured me that if there was cancer it would have shown up on the test results.

I returned to her a year later complaining the spot was bigger and continued to flake. This time she froze the area. I waited 6 months and returned insisting on another biopsy – in the correct spot. This time it came back positive for basal cell. She apologized admitting she had taken a biopsy the first time from a wrong area. I was scheduled for a Mohs procedure and flap repair with a plastic surgeon. I realized then I had to be my own best advocate!

I stopped sitting in the sun without sunscreen and a hat. However; five years later I was diagnosed with a second basal cell carcinoma. Again, the only indication I had was a flaky spot on the side of my nose that just would not completely heal up. And again, I was scheduled for Mohs procedure and flap repair.

My Doctor states that once diagnosed with basal cell skin cancer you are more likely to have a reoccurrence.  Now I won’t leave the house without a hat. I also wear a sunscreen of SPF 46 and make-up with sunscreen.

My younger brother was diagnosed and treated for melanoma when he was only 38-years-old. He had a mole on his back that surgeons stated were sure had been there all his life. He is now 16 years cancer free! He is very cautious about being in the sun and always wears long sleeves and sunscreen!

My advice to you is to be safe while you are in the sun, protect yourself.  Check your skin for changes and be your own best advocate.  Skin cancer is very treatable when caught early.  Save yourself from having to going through what I have. 

Cindy After Mohs Surgery
Cindy after Mohs surgery
Cindy After Stitches Were Removed
Cindy after stitches removed
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Success Stories Wellness Warriors

Melanoma Survivor Tim

Tim Ward and Family

In 2007, Tim went to a Mayo Clinic dermatologist to have a mole on his left arm looked at. The doctor removed it right away so it could be tested. A few years prior, Tim had this same mole tested, and it was fine. But this time, the biopsy showed that the mole had turned into Melanoma.

Tim’s Story

My name is Tim Ward.  I am 39 years old and had malignant melanoma.  I was diagnosed in the summer of 2007.

I am Australian born and lived in Melbourne Australia for 25 years.  In 1996 I came to America to study at the University of Minnesota in horticulture.  I have worked in the horticulture industry my whole life, outdoors most of the time. 

Five years prior to my diagnosis I had a mole biopsied on my left arm.  The doctors took only a part of the mole and left the rest.  The biopsy came back fine and nothing more was mentioned to me at the time.  Five years later my wife Amy noticed a change of color to that particular mole.  I went to Mayo Clinic to see dermatology.  The physician who examined my body wanted a biopsy of that mole immediately.  Three to four days later I received a call back from Mayo with the diagnosis of malignant melanoma.  They scheduled me that week to remove the rest of the mole and its margins.  They took the margins around the mole and 35 stitches later sewed me up.  Five to ten days later the clinic called again to tell me that they had removed all of the cancer.  I have since had a few other moles removed which have all been cancer free. 

Since the diagnosis I have paid close attention to my entire body. My family has been very sensitive during this experience.  I have 8-year-old twin boys, one with very fair skin like myself.  My wife and I are very conscientious of sun protection for our family.  I have always worn sunscreen year round prior to cancer and since.  Unfortunately, my profession leaves me exposed all of the time.  I try to wear a hat and long sleeves when possible.  I am very careful to apply sunscreen to my children and to make sure they wear UV protection clothing especially when swimming. 

My advice to you would be to use sun protection year round and to try and limit your sun exposure if possible.  Regularly see your doctor and watch for any changes to your skin.

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Sun Protection Clothing Wellness Warriors

I’m Only 21, I Can’t Get Cancer

In 2009, Jessi went to a dermatologist to have a freckle removed. A week later, she received a call from her doctor and was told she had Melanoma (the most serious form of skin cancer). She was only 21-years-old at the time. Before her diagnoses, Jessi was unaware of the dangers of UV exposure. In high school, she tanned during the short Minnesota summers and visited tanning salons before formal dances. Since then, she has been proactive about sun protection and tracking changes on her skin throughout the year.

Jessi’s Story

I never thought I would be diagnosed with skin cancer. I had a freckle on my forearm with all the characteristics of a questionable spot. After a couple friends said I should get that spot checked out, I finally decided to go to the clinic and have the freckle removed. The next week, I received a call from the clinic and was told I had Melanoma and needed to have more skin removed. Before I had a larger excision, I scheduled an appointment with a dermatologist for an entire body check. During that appointment, two more spots were removed. The spot on my back came back positive with Melanoma. Especially after the second spot came back positive, my mentality about sun protection has completely changed. I am now always prepared with sunscreen or sun protective clothing when I know I will be spending time in the sun. 

Jessi Staying Covered Hiking Grand Canyon
Jessi Staying Covered Hiking Grand Canyon, 2010

Since I was diagnosed, a few things have changed. First of all, I will never use tanning beds again. Although I never used them regularly or frequently, I did use tanning beds in order to be tan for formal dances. Secondly, I am now always aware of when I am in the sun and plan ahead for protection.

Sun protection played a minor role in my life before my diagnosis. After diagnosis, I now make sure I have a stock of sun screen, sun protective clothing and a nice hat. Even if you haven’t been diagnosed with skin cancer, sun protection is important. Not only does it reduce your chance for skin cancer, it keeps your skin looking younger longer. It is never too early to start using skin protection. 

Melanoma Removal Scar on Back
Melanoma Removal Scar on Back
A-Typical Mole Removed on Leg
A-Typical Mole Removed on Leg

 

Jessi also has a scar on her arm where Melanoma was removed. She visits the dermatologist twice a year to have a full-skin exam. After her melanoma was excised two years ago, her doctor has not found any more traces of Melanoma, although Jessi continues to have a-typical (suspicious) moles removed almost every visit.

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SunAWARE Wellness Warriors

Skin Cancer Survivor Carol

Carol Schuler was in her early 30s when she found a freckle on the left side of her face that appeared abnormal, it turned out to be Lentigo Maligna (a form of melanoma).

Carol’s Story

I had [the freckle that turned out to be Lentigo Maligna] looked at about 8 years before I did something about it, but then had Mohs procedure on it about 15 years ago followed by extensive plastic surgery.

I remember this freckle showing up and not noticing that it was growing and changing since it was so slow. When I mentioned it to my family doctor, I was told to just keep an eye on it. If I had gone to a dermatologist right way, I might have avoided having a chunk of my face the size of a 50-cent piece cut out of my face years later. Since I was living in Australia at the time, when I would go home in the summer my best friend Julie started bugging me about it.  Being a busy mother of 3 children my tendency was to put my own health at the end of the list of to do’s. This is a cautionary tale about taking the time for your own health in order to ensure that you are here for your kids in the future.

I feel very lucky to be able to have had it taken care of even though it had grown rather large. I also wear very high quality sunscreen on my face every day of the year. Winter sun can be just as damaging with prolonged exposure.  Now that there are great, breathable fabrics like SUNTECT® from Coolibar – I am able to spend as much time as I like outside without worrying about skin damage.

When I was living in Australia I used to only put on sunscreen when I was going to the beach or pool but the sun was there every minute of the day so I should have applied sunscreen every day regardless of my activity.

Don’t put off going to the doctor to have something checked, the sooner the better.  The time you take to deal with it today just might save your life.

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Sun Protection Clothing Wellness Warriors

Fishing in the Amazon

Jack Ip, also known as JIP, is the Senior Editor of Tackle and Tour, an online source of tackle news and reviews, and he makes it his business to seek some of the best fishing in the world. Last November, he traveled outside his hometown near the shores of Lake Sonoma in California, to the Amazon to fish for one of the world’s toughest freshwater species — Peacock bass. While carefully thought-out bait was essential to the success of the trip, tackle wasn’t the only thing he brought with him to the treacherous waters of Barcelos, Brazil.

“This was my first trip to the Amazon and my first time catching Peacock bass. As much as the tackle is important on a trip like this, keeping yourself in tip-top shape and providing yourself protection is just as critical … Wearing protective gear to keep the sun exposure to a bare minimum is important if you’re fishing 6 days straight for 10+ hours per day.

“Coolibar has been producing sun protective clothing since 2001 and today all their apparel are rated UPF 50+, the highest rating you can have in clothes. So the Coolibar Sunblock Fishing Shirt was a must have for my trip to the Amazon. There was no way the harmful UV rays, even the harsh ones in Brazil, would penetrate the Sunblock fishing shirt. I received no sunburns or evening a darkening of my skin during the entire trip in South America.

“Due to venting it provided coolness while fishing all day. The Sunblock shirt, when wet, also dries quickly especially if you’re running the boat. The fishing shirt has many features designed just for anglers such as a collar that you can unfold to provide neck protection or the Velcro pole tip holder just to name a few. Overall a good fishing shirt that’s UPF 50+ rated and useful features that any angler would welcome.

“Fly thousands of miles away, you won’t want to leave home with just mediocre tackle as this is mostly a once in a life time trip for many anglers … And apparel, it must provide good protection or you’ll come back lobster red and hurting. UPF rated, 40+ or 50+ is recommended. Plus a hat to cover up is almost a must have.”

JIP in Coolibar Fish Shirt Casting Off
JIP casting off in Coolibar Fish Shirt

To view details about the Sunblock Fishing Shirt JIP used during his Amazon fishing excursion, see the Sunblock Fishing Shirt made from Coolibar’s dri SUNTECT® fabric.

To view details about Coolibar’s New and Improved Fishing Shirt, see the Fishing Shirt cut from Coolibar’s 3D dri SUNTECT®, a new lighter weight, moisture-wicking fabric that offers superior sun protection and comfort. This shirt still contains all of the original technical features you love including: Velcro pole tip holders, roll-up sleeves, a protective collar flap, bellowed breast pockets and 6” vertical Napoleon zipper pockets.

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