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A 6-Year-Old Melanoma Hero

It’s not fair that anyone should have to deal with something as life altering as melanoma, especially a 6-year-old. Rachael was only 5 when she was diagnosed with stage III melanoma on September 10, 2009. After a year of battling and conquering melanoma, Rachael and her family know all too well why sun protection is important.

It all started with a little mole on her left arm that Rachael complained hurt. Rachael’s mom, Danielle, took her to the doctor thinking the mole was nothing, but better be on the safe-side. Once at the Doctor’s office, the physician removed the mole and everything was assumed to be okay. While this spot was not initially diagnosed as stage III melanoma, after the first biopsy, doctors knew it was something. It was confirmed after Rachael had a wide local excision on her arm three inches long and a biopsy of the sentinel lymph node, where they removed a few lymph nodes to look for cancer cells. 

While the typical survival rate for stage III melanoma is 60 percent, Rachael was in a rare, but good situation for the circumstances. Doctors told Danielle that children under the age of 10 diagnosed with malignant melanoma have a high survival rate, but further action was necessary. The treatment Doctors recommended for Rachael has been used on less than 100 children in Rachael’s situation and all survived. Her treatment never incorporated chemo, but rather surgery (to remove all lymph nodes under her left arm), four weeks of interferon given daily through an IV using a picc line (which can make the patient ill), weekly injections through the picc line for 48 weeks, and what will be years of follow-up tests. Rachael received a bead through the Beads of Courage program for every treatment she went through. By the end of the year, her necklace of beads was worth more than a thousand words.

Rachael's Beads of Courage

Fortunately, Rachael’s cancer was caught early. She is living healthfully and cancer-free now among her parents and brother; however, her journey to wellbeing was not an easy one, and the experience has forever changed her life as well as her family. Danielle says, “A year into this, how has life changed for us? I think about the sun every single day… I no longer think 15 minutes without sunscreen is okay. Rachael wears a hat every day.  She wears it in the pool.  She wears it to the beach.  She wears it in the shade.” Danielle does this with great reason too. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, about 65 percent of melanoma cases can be attributed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Rachael and those surrounding her are now all practicing sun-safe habits every day under the sun.

Danielle’s Blog chronicles their family’s journey through pediatric melanoma: http://iloveyoumorethanmost.blogspot.com

Organizations such as the Children’s Melanoma Prevention Foundation aggressively focus attention on the need to teach “prevention” and “sun protection” to children, and their caregivers. Learn more about this program and tools you can use to teach future generations how to be SunAWARE.

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Sun Protection Clothing Videos Wear Sun Protection

Sun Protective Clothing (Video)

Dermatologist Dr. Jaime Davis
Uptown Dermatology
Minneapolis, MN

Hi, this is Dr. Davis for Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing.

I wanted to talk to you today specifically about sun protective clothing and why we need it.  While we love our sunscreen and advise putting sunscreen on the face, V of the neck, back of the hands, the best sun protection actually comes from sun protective clothing

The fact is, it’s hard to use enough sunscreen and remember to re-apply it.  But if you put on a nice piece of sun protective clothing, you have the relief of not having to remember to do those things – especially for the kids who are going to be out and about and playing.  Simply putting a t-shirt on them and letting them run around in the water is not enough sun protection.  That t-shirt loses its sun protective factor the minute it gets wet. It goes down from maybe a 5-7 to about a 2 and that’s not enough sun protection for a kid. 

I’m going to show you some interesting alternatives.

Coolibar makes a fantastic material that is UPF 50, nice light woven material, tightly woven so the sun does not get through it.  It’s like  a fine silk really and it’s a synthetic fabric that washes up beautifully, I know, but it feels super lightweight and is  very breathable and is constructed so that there is airflow through the back.  So, you don’t overheat in these, even though you’re wearing long sleeves there is beautiful ventilation.  And actually, keeping the Ultra violet light off your skin keeps you cooler.  Ironically wearing a sun protective shirt will keep you cooler.

Some nice clothing for kids this fabric has Zinc Oxide, a physical sunscreen that we reviewed in another segment, embedded in here.  This keeps you nice and sun protected and even if it gets wet it does not lose its sun protective factor.  And some super cute stuff for kids, this long sleeve, you just don’t have to worry about getting the kids sunburned.  Keep the hat on everybody, a nice pair of sunglasses and you’ve got it covered.

Stay SunAWARE, Wear Sun Protective Clothing and Be Safe!

Coolibar Sun Protective Clothing

 

 

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