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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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Coolibar Athletes Jim Webster

The Spirit of Competition Includes Sun Safety

Jim Webster "Web"

Coolibar continues highlighting our Sponsored Athletes for 2014. Here, long range marksman Jim Webster talks about striving for excellence and staying safe at the same time.

By Jim Webster

If I were to wager, I’d bet most of you have probably heard the phrase, “you have to burn before you tan”.  That was a favorite quote around my house.  We heard it every year from relatives when the family would go to VA Beach during the summer.

Vacation was always the last two weeks in August; right before school started when the sun absolutely baked the sand every day. You left for the beach first thing in the morning and didn’t come home until dinner. Umbrellas – not a chance. If you got too hot you just jumped in the water. That’s just the way it was 35 years ago.  And bake we did, then peel, then eventually the pink would turn brown by the time we were ready to head back to NY.

I am fortunate that my father’s side of the family is from the St. Kitts, a small island in the Caribbean about 200 miles southeast of San Juan.  This heritage means I tan quite easily, and over the years I have spent more than my share of time in the sun. So far I have been lucky. I will turn 49 this summer and have only had one spot on my arm that needed to be checked. It turned out to be nothing.

But that wasn’t the case for a friend of mine. Crockett, as he was known, was 50 years old in October of ‘99 when the doctor examined what he thought was a mole on his shoulder. It proved to be melanoma, and a short time later my friend lost his fight with skin cancer.

Jim Webster - Long Range Shooting

Long-range shooting competitions are one of my passions.  Events are held in wide-open areas.  They have to be for safety purposes. Picture an area that is 10 football fields long by five football fields wide.

Shooting begins early in the morning and runs until evening (e.g. similar to the days at the beach), and the only shade is what you find under the brim of your hat. Take in too much sun during the day and not only will your performance suffer, you could find yourself in a fight where the odds are not in your favor.

In my mind, what makes me an athlete it is what makes us all athletes: a willingness to push ourselves through whatever adversity life presents. Whether it is parenting, being a good friend, or success in work or competition, inherently we all want to do well. It feels good to perform well, and even better to win. Being able to harness this drive separates an average performance from an exceptional one.

Am I different than most? I don’t view it that way.  I am fortunate to have a supportive family and good friends. I do everything I can to make each day and each experience the best possible.

The bottom line: I enjoy spending time outside with my family and traveling to competitions. I enjoy the beach, and can’t wait to go back.  Simply stated, I don’t want to miss out on any of those opportunities. If being smart about my exposure to UV makes those things possible, then it is worth my time and effort. Coolibar makes is easy with comfortable active wear for every sport.

Have fun and stay safe,

WEB

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Coolibar Athletes Kaitlyn Price

For Aspiring Pro Golfer, Long Days in the Sun are Par for the Course

Kaitlyn Price - Golf

Coolibar highlights another 2014 Sponsored Athlete.

By Kaitlyn Price

As a competitive golfer, there aren’t many days off. The summer months are the heart of the competitive season, and I am taking advantage of the plethora of events to prepare myself for LPGA Qualifying School in August. It is important to have all aspects of your golf game in shape because each tournament brings a new challenge.

While each day is a little different, my general routine consists of getting to the course in the morning and working for about three hours on chipping/pitching, putting, and full swing drills. I then go home, eat lunch, and cool off for a little before either going for a bike ride or heading to the gym. In the afternoon (if it’s not raining), I like to go back out to the course and play as many holes as I can.

During tournament rounds, I am usually in the sun for about seven hours straight. This consists of an hour of warm-up, five hours to play, and then another hour after the round to work on my game. On these days it is very important to be smart about the sun, because not only is it important to protect your skin, but the sun is also mentally draining.

Since I am in the sun anywhere from three to nine hours a day, sun protection is extremely important. Hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen are all imperative for long days in the sun.  Before the day gets started, I apply sunscreen to all exposed areas and I have to reapply a few times throughout the day. Coolibar clothing has been a great asset to my sun protection routine. The Swim Skort, although not created for golf, is my new favorite piece of clothing for the golf course!

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Contests

Official Rules for UV Safety Month – Women’s Swim Shirt Giveaway!

UV Safety Month Women’s Swim Shirt Giveaway Official Rules: To enter, you must be 18 years of age or older. Contest open to residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia. The winner will receive one (1) Coolibar UPF 50+Women’s Long Sleeve Quarter Zip Swim Shirt (Coolibar Item #03245, retail value $75). Winner will be chosen at random by Coolibar representatives. Winner will choose the swim shirt from available sizes and colors. Comments and photos deemed inappropriate by Coolibar, or not owned by the posting individual, will be deleted and disqualified. No purchase necessary to win. Prize is non-transferable, not returnable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash. Four entries maximum per person. Coolibar, Inc. employees, employee family members and affiliates are not eligible to win. Contest rules subject to changes at the discretion of Coolibar. Facebook is not affiliated with Coolibar, Inc. or this contest. Deadline for entry: Tuesday, July 29, 2014 at 11:59 pm CST.

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Events Inside Coolibar

Twin City Tennis Camps Hosts Coolibar Talent Show

For the past two years Coolibar has worked closely with Twin City Tennis Camps (TCTC), an organization that operates tennis camps across Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. This is part of an ongoing effort to help parents and community leaders promote sun safety at an early age. What better place to do it than on the tennis courts?

Still, Friday, July 18 was a first: a Coolibar-themed talent show performed by TCTC staff and junior tennis students at the Golden Valley Tennis Center at Brookview Park.

This is just one performance:

Here are some more highlights:

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TCTC operates five tennis camps across the Twin Cities and provides “an energetic, athletic, cooperative and educational style…that keeps everyone smiling, playing tennis and making lifelong lasting relationships.” The organization also operates adult tennis camps and attends annual tournaments in Minneapolis, Minn. and Palm Springs, Calif.

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Coolibar Athletes Jerry Leonard

Discipline, Dedication…and Sun Protection

Jerry Leonard, Football Coach

Coolibar highlights another 2014 Sponsored Athlete.

By Jerry Leonard

I began playing sports as a child growing up in New Orleans to occupy my time and keep me out of trouble and off the streets. I realized I love competition and the discipline and dedication required to be successful.

Jerry Leonard - Coolibar 2014 Sponsored AthleteThat discipline and dedication began to carry over into many other aspects of my life. This helped me in the classroom as a student, in my own classroom as a teacher, and on the field as a coach. Being a multi-sport athlete I was and am still able to compete in a variety of ways, as a coach and as golfer and power lifter.

Sun protection is extremely important to me as a football coach to stay safe in the sun. We are outside conditioning all summer long in the Louisiana sun. It can be brutal. It is very humid in the south and sweat easily washes off the typical sunscreen. Wearing protective clothing provides the additional protection I need to feel comfortable in the sun without the worry of skin cancer.

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Inside Coolibar What's Hot

Latest Fashion Trend: The Bucket Hat?

Coolibar Bucket Hat

We first started hearing rumblings about his about a year ago, when some of the hip fashion bloggers started saying the bucket hat was a thing again. We love bucket hats; admittedly, we have an extra-large crush on them because they protect your face. But we last saw our friend the bucket hat as a major fashion player in like 1999. We thought these rumblings would go away.

They didn’t. Instead, they got stronger.

And stronger. Rihanna in a bucket hat? That’s a long way from Gilligan, or even LL Cool J. The latest homage comes from Refinery29, and we’re sure there will be more.

Coolibar has always offered bucket hats, but if there’s going to be a trend we’re more than “Happy” to throw our hat into the ring.

Of course, Coolibar bucket hats have an extra bonus: they’re UPF 50+. How much trendier can you get?

 

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Events Inside Coolibar

Coolibar Goes to Camp

Coolibar at AAD Camp Discovery

One sunny morning last week, Coolibar employees got up early, grabbed their gear and made the three-hour journey from Minneapolis to Crosslake, Minnesota to attend Camp Discovery. This one-week summer camp for kids with chronic skin conditions is operated by the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD), and encompasses five such summer camps across the country.

During the afternoon the camp split into eight teams, and each composed a skit or song about sun protection that they presented to the larger group. Afterward, everyone headed to the lakeshore for some sun safe swimming. Coolibar passed out UPF 50+ swim shirts and sun hats to 98 campers and staff!

Crosslake is the original location for the AAD’s Camp Discovery, and it includes Camp Little Pine (for ages 10 – 14) and Camp Big Trout (ages 14 – 16). This is the third consecutive year that Coolibar has dropped in for a visit.

Check out our fun photos!

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Expert Rx

The Eyes Have It: Exposure to UV Rays a Silent Threat to Vision

Acuvue - Eye Care

By Millicent Knight, OD, Head of Professional Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, North America

Are we taking the proper precautions to protect our eyes?  Unfortunately, the answer is no. Eyes may be windows to the soul, but they are also windows for harmful ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can cause silent, long-term damage on our vision that may occur decades later.

This issue is particularly timely with summer here—a season in which it’s almost intuitive to lather on the sunscreen before we head to the beach.  While most Americans understand the link between UV radiation and skin cancer, many are less aware of the connection between UV radiation and eye damage. Yet the truth is that harmful UV rays are not just bad for skin; they also can inflict significant eye damage over time. Worldwide some 12 to 15 million people become blind from cataracts annually, of which up to 20% may be caused or enhanced by sun exposure according to estimates from The World Health Organization1. UV rays also have been linked to other ocular conditions.

What’s more, UV rays can cause short-term conditions such as photokeratitis (a corneal inflammation) and photoconjunctivitis (an inflammation of the conjunctiva under the eyelid). If you’ve ever had sore, tired eyes after a day at the beach or on the water, you may have experienced UV radiation overexposure.

The simple fact is that we need to take better precautions to protect our eyes. With skin, when you are out in the sun too long, you see an instantaneous change in the form of sunburn. But unlike skin, short-term damage to the eyes is sometimes hard to notice. For some people, over the long-term, though, the sun can cause irreversible harm to parts of the eye and surrounding tissue that are left unprotected or under-protected. So, what happens to our kids today may not be evident until decades later. That’s why it is important to get maximum protection beginning in childhood.

The good news is that there are easy steps, which, when taken together, can help minimize UV exposure to our eyes.  Wear a wide-brimmed hat. Wear wrap-around sunglasses that block at least 99 percent of both UV-A and UV-B rays, with lenses large enough to completely cover the eyes. And wear them all day; UV radiation for the eyes is actually worse when the sun is lower in the sky. While it has long been thought that the risk of UV exposure to the eyes is greatest during the mid-day hours, from 10:00 AM to 2:00 PM, research suggests that from spring through fall, when the days get longer, the incidence of exposure is actually greatest earlier and later in the day.

UV-blocking contact lenses, when worn in combination with UV-absorbing wrap-around sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat can offer an added measure of protection for those who need vision correction. However, not all contact lenses offer UV protection, and of those that do, not all provide similar absorption levels. An eye care professional can prescribe Class 1 or Class 2 UV-blocking contact lenses, which provide high levels of UV blocking. Although UV-blocking contact lenses are beneficial in helping to protect against harmful UV rays, clinical studies have not been done to show they reduce the risk of any specific eye disease or condition.

By becoming better educated about the dangers of UV rays on the eyes and the importance of choosing proper eyewear that provides the best UV protection, we can lessen the risk for ocular UV exposure and help protect the long-term eye health of ourselves and our children.

1Health effects of UV radiation, World Health Organization, www.who.int/uv/health/en/

Millicent Knight, OD, is Head of Professional Affairs, Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, North America.  In this role, Dr. Knight leads the development and deployment of the company’s professional strategy across the United States and Canada.  She also directs the company’s professional and education platform through THE VISION CARE INSTITUTE®, LLC and other educational outreach programs. Dr. Knight brings 25 years of comprehensive experience in multiple areas of optometry,  including contact lenses, contact lens research, ocular disease management, and integrative eye and systemic care to the position.

This blog was originally published on the Johnson & Johnson Corporate blog, www.blogjnj.com

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Coolibar Athletes Leslie Jackson

Bringing the Love of Stand Up Paddleboarding to Every Part of Life

Leslie Jackson - SUP

Coolibar highlights another Sponsored Athlete for 2014.

By Leslie Jackson

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP) is a new sport to me, and one that makes both my body and mind feel good.  The sport itself is a great core strengthener and one that allows you to push yourself to your limits.

It’s fun to test your speed and balance and practice little tricks that make you faster. What I really love about the sport is the ability for everybody to enjoy it. I can go out with my kids or I can go out with a friend and I know I am going to have fun and get a really good workout. That to me, is what exercise is all about!

On days when I paddle, my routine starts well before I make it to the water, but it’s all part of the sport and nothing I complain about. I get dressed in my Coolibar workout attire and lather up in sunscreen, then throw on a hat and sunglasses and am ready to begin. If only I could walk out my door and into the water, but that is not the case.

So, I walk out the door and load my gear.  I drive a big SUV and have a nice SUP rack on it, but it is still work and part of my routine. I grab my paddle and put in the car, then take my board out of the bag and hoist it over my head.  Once I get it on the roof racks, I tighten it down and away I go.

I generally paddle with at least one friend and we meet at the water’s edge ready for a workout.  Somedays we go for a long easy paddle where we just enjoy the water and feel the glide under our feet and other days we do fast intervals with a beach workout.

Whatever it is we decide to do, it is always nice to be out on the water and to enjoy the Southern California weather!

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