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This is Brave

This is Brave: “I’ll Beat This Again”

By: Julie Weber Smith

So many awesome things have happened since I told my story!

At the end of June 2019, I started working part-time at Warren Chiropractic Center. I work at the front desk and love seeing the improvements of the patients as they get their adjustments. The first day I worked there, I was driving into work and just started crying. I didn’t know if I would ever be working again! As much as we get upset with our jobs for so many reasons, I have thanked God for this job and the owners of this place for giving me a chance. Being employed is just another thing we can take for granted in our lives.

On October 28th, I went in to see my Oncologist to get results from a recent scan. They said a word I wasn’t sure I would ever hear…REMISSION!!! I will never forget the look that my husband and I gave each other. LOL! It was complete shock and happiness. I do need to continue taking target medicine Mekinist and Tafinlar that are designed to shrink and kill cancer cells until my next scan in April. But for now, I’m in remission!!! I get my skin checked every six months by my dermatologist and the most recent check showed that everything is fine. Nothing needed to be removed. Yay!

My energy and strength are getting better and I have been advocating for those fighting cancer. I am highly involved with the American Cancer Society Relay For Life in my community. I mentor and recruit teams as a team coach on our ELT Committee (Event Leadership Team). In the nine years I’ve been working with Relay for Life, I have raised thousands of dollars for cancer research and treatments, rides for patients, Hope Lodges (places to stay for cancer patients and their families while getting their treatments), and have been working on the 24/7 support call line. What I enjoy most is helping these people and their loved ones fight this cancer. Letting them know there is help, and that they are not alone makes such a difference in their battle.

Just recently, an American Cancer Society employee nominated me to be honored at a Coaches vs Cancer event at the University of Notre Dame Men’s basketball game. Nick Djojo, John Mooney and TJ Gibbs surprised me at my work with VIP tickets to the game, along with a few other gifts. I went to the game thinking there would be other cancer survivors walking out with me to the middle of the court and it was just me! They honored me for my work with ACS and in the community. I couldn’t believe it! I received a signed basketball from all of the players and courtside seats. It was so cool and very humbling.

Since working with Coolibar to tell my story, I’ve been able to help even more people going through the same fight as me. I have been sharing what this amazing company and their clothing is doing for everyone in protecting us from the sun, and that they are raising money to make sure that there are treatments and research for Melanoma. I’m grateful to be partnering with them.

I’ve been sharing my story with others since I was first diagnosed with Melanoma in 2013. I want to give some hope to as many people and their families as I can.

March 20, 2020: Taken from a live video feed to friends and family…

I’ve got some news to tell you. I’ve been having some pain on the right side where the cancer was, and I went in and told Dr. Ansari. I talked to Dr. Ansari. I had a CT Scan and I am no longer in remission. I found out yesterday that I have two masses. The mass on the right side is 10.1cm x 6cm. the one on the left is 4.8cm x 4.2cm. Both have fluid in them.

The plan right now is that on Tuesday I’ll go in for a biopsy and they will take the fluid out of the tumors and hopefully, that will relieve some of the pain that I’m having right now. Then on Thursday, I am going to Indianapolis to talk with a surgeon to see if they can operate. If operable, that will be awesome! I go for an MRI on April 2nd and then April 3rd I meet with Dr. Ansari again and we’ll discuss what needs to happen. The treatment we’ve been talking about is immunotherapy again, continuing the target medicine I’m on now, and possibly radiation. It could be all three, or a combination. We’ll see what happens. I’ll know more after April 3rd. Things can change between now and then as we all know. Things happen every day, every hour.

I just want to let you all know that I’m praying for every single one of you. With the coronavirus, we’re all in this together and we’re all effected one way or another. I’ve been praying for you and your families. That’s it.

I don’t feel as stressed as I did the very first time. I feel kind of at ease. I’m still kind of numb to everything. But it will be okay. It will be alright. I’ll beat this again. The cancer bug says it wants to attack me again and I’m telling it, “Not today! You messed with the wrong gal!” We’ll beat this again and do what we can. We’ll get this all taken care of and everything is going to be okay. They say third time is a charm and I’m praying it is.

You know, how I look at it is this…I’m going to be free from this one way or another. I’ve said it before, it’s going to be here on Earth or in the hereafter, and when you think about it either one is not a bad thing. I’m scared and I’m upset. I’m angry because I was doing so good. But I kinda knew. I was doing so good and thought, “I want to keep going! I’m doing great!” so I didn’t say anything. I didn’t want to be the one calling my doctor all the time because of this or that and have it turn out to be nothing. Now it’s worse.

In the same token, I can’t beat myself up for this either. I will just go with what is going on right now. And right now, I’m going to beat this and kick it! Even if I might have to kick a little harder this time.

Anyhow, I hope you all are doing well! I love you all! Keep safe with your family and friends and love on your family! Just let them know that they are loved. I love you guys.

To read Julie’s story from last year’s campaign, visit HERE.

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Experts Say Live Wisely

10 Ways to Safely Enjoy the Sun

Between soccer games, outdoor concerts, travel and everyday moments, we are experiencing life outside more than ever. So, how can we develop a healthy relationship with the sun and stay safe? Experts recommend you start with these top 10 steps for protecting your family and preventing sun damage:

1. WEAR A WIDE-BRIMMED HAT WHENEVER POSSIBLE

One of the most common places for skin cancer is on the human scalp. A wide-brimmed (3-inch or greater) hat covers places where it is difficult to apply sunscreen, such as the tops of the ears and the back of the neck.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

2. WEAR UV-BLOCKING SUNGLASSES

Ocular melanoma is the most common primary cancer of the eye in adults. Always wear high-quality UV-protective sunglasses whenever outdoors. Good sunglasses should block 100% of the sun’s UV spectrum – Ocular Melanoma Foundation

3. PROTECT YOUR SKIN WITH TRUSTED, TRIED AND TRUE UPF 50+ CLOTHING

Clothing is the best means of sun protection. Choose garments with an Ultraviolet Protection Factor (UPF) label of 50 or higher to block 98% of all UV rays. A standard white cotton T-shirt will have a UPF of 5-7.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

4. DON’T GET BURNED!

What we call sunlight is technically ultraviolet radiation (UV Rays). In addition to cosmetic concerns like premature aging, wrinkling, leathery skin and unattractive sun spots (90% of which are caused by UV rays), UV rays alter our molecular structure and cause deep damage and skin cancer. In other words—don’t get burned! – American Cancer Society

5. WEAR GLOVES OR SUNSCREEN ON YOUR HANDS YEAR-ROUND

The backs of your hands, like your face, get sun exposure every day. The result: thinning, crinkled skin, dark spots, and skin cancers. Wear gloves or sunscreen year-round.  – Skin Cancer Foundation

6. ALWAYS WEAR THE RIGHT CLOTHES WHEN OUTDOORS

The heat can tempt you to shed clothes, sacrificing sun safety for comfort.  UPF clothing is made of lightweight, high-tech fabrics specially treated to be “breathable” and “sweat-wicking”. – Skin Cancer Foundation

7. WHETHER YOU’RE ON A PLANE, TRAIN, CAR OR BOAT, COVER UP

By law, most front windshields in cars are treated to filter out most UVA rays, but side and rear windows generally aren’t. If you’re flying to your vacation and love the window seat, know that UVA rays come through airplane windows. To be safe, wear sunscreen and sun-protective clothing anytime you’re traveling. Skin Cancer Foundation

8. DIVERSIFY YOUR SUN-PROTECTION ROUTINE

Because exposure to UV light is the most preventable risk factor for all skin cancers, everyone should protect their skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays by seeking shade, wearing protective clothing and using a sunscreen of SPF 30+ on exposed areas. American Academy of Dermatology

9. PROTECT YOURSELF ON OVERCAST DAYS

NEW: Up to 80% of the sun’s UV rays can pass through clouds. This is why people often end up with serious sunburns on overcast days if they’ve spent time outside with no sun protection. –Skin Cancer Foundation

10. SHARE YOUR SUN-SAFE HABITS WITH OTHERS, ESPECIALLY CHILDREN

One blistering sunburn can double a child’s lifetime risk of cancer. Protect them with lightweight and breathable sun-protective clothing, ideally long-sleeves and long pants in bright colors. Cover eyes with UV-blocking sunglasses and scalps and necks with broad-brimmed hats with brims 4” around or greater. – Skin Cancer Foundation

 

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Sun Tips (Attachment)

 

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Events Inside Coolibar

Coolibar, American Cancer Society Lobby at Capitol for Teen Indoor Tanning Ban

Minnesota State Capitol

As state legislators across the US consider bills that would regulate or ban the use of indoor tanning beds by minors, Coolibar recently attended Tan-Free Teens Day in support of the Minnesota Skin Cancer Prevention Act (SF 1901) at the Minnesota State Capitol in St. Paul. The lobbying effort was part of a national initiative spearheaded by the American Cancer Society – Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN), the nation’s leading cancer advocacy organization.

Loren Adams, Coolibar: Sen. Ron Latz, DFL MN Dist 46

Volunteers from the Twin Cities and outstate communities gathered March 5 for a breakfast presentation where ACS-CAN staff from Minnesota and Washington, DC outlined the provisions of the bill and the legislative process. In the afternoon, staff and volunteers visited with Minnesota state senators and representatives at the Capitol, educCoolibar at Tan Free Teens Dayating and advocating for passage of SF 1901.

According to ACS-CAN, more than 100 volunteers had personal conversations with some 150 lawmakers, or 75% of those voting on the bill. The same day, the bill was debated in the Minnesota Senate Health Committee, where it passed easily.

Deb Thoman, MD - ACS Rebecca Thoman, MD & Friend

 

The bill has since passed through the Minnesota House and an additional hearing in the Senate. It will likely be bundled with other healthcare-related bills and then voted on by the entire Senate, according to Rebecca Thoman, M.D. of the American Cancer Society.

Who is Considering Measures for Tan-Free Teens?

All of this takes place as two states recently passed legislation restricting indoor tanning for minors. At least five other states are considering similar bills in their legislatures:

  • Hawaii – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 18
  • Louisiana – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 17
  • Missouri – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 17
  • Pennsylvania – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 16
  • Nebraska – Law would prohibit tanning bed use by anyone under 16

The following U.S. states currently ban indoor tanning for minors:

  • Indiana – Just passed a law banning the use of tanning beds for those 16 & under
  • Washington – Just passed a law banning the use of tanning beds for those 17 & under
  • 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

Why Support the Ban?

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the the World Health Organization (WHO), “Policymakers should consider enacting measures, such as prohibiting minors and discouraging young adults from using indoor tanning facilities, to protect the general population from possible additional risk for melanoma.” And the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that people who begin tanning before age 35 have a 59% higher risk of developing melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer.

In 2009, the WHO issued a warning that labeled ultraviolet rays from tanning beds a Class 1 carcinogen. Shortly afterward, Brazil became the first country to ban the use of indoor tanning equipment altogether. It is widely banned for anyone under 18 across Europe and in parts of Canada; about 15 other US states have some form of restriction, such as a parental consent requirement, for teens using indoor tanning equipment.

For information on cancer lobbying efforts in your state visit the events page at ACS-CAN.

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