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This is Brave

Welcome to ‘This is Brave’

We’re on a Mission to Protect and Prevent in 2020

Warriors Advocate for Skin Cancer Prevention and Protection During a Pandemic

Coolibar launched This is Brave in 2018 when a young girl stepped up and reminded us all of the importance of advocating for and supporting individuals with skin cancer. When Quinn told her brother Graham to Be Brave, she was reminding us all that we can do this! We can battle through and no matter what the outcome might be, we’re better when we can Be Brave together.

In 2020, the third year of our This is Brave campaign and first year as the Official Apparel Partner of the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), our mission remains the same but the need for support is even greater. In the past few months, the world has shifted significantly in terms of patient care, research funding, and non-profit outreach. Key fundraising events like Miles for Melanoma have been postponed, and we’re working with the MRF and our community to find ways to continue funding life-saving research, and support patients and advocates across the country.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime whether there is a pandemic or not. #CancerHasNoCurve. The good news, the MRF and the greater melanoma community continues to be strong and active. Patients and advocates have done everything from taking the message of prevention and protection cross-country, to telling a neighbor to care for their skin and get checked. You are amazing. Everything you’re doing counts!

A lot will change forever in 2020, but the need for skin cancer prevention and protection will not. If you’re able, we’re asking you to support skin cancer awareness and the MRF this May, Melanoma Awareness Month. Here is how you can help:

  1. Read the awe-inspiring stories of our Brave warriors and share them with your friends and family. Awareness can save lives!
  2. Consider donating to the MRF. They’ve created wonderful virtual programs to ensure that the funding for research and education remains strong.
  3. Purchase a 2020 This is Brave UPF 50+ T-Shirt for yourself or send it to someone as a sun-safe gift for a cause. The proceeds go directly to the MRF.

Thank you for all that you do and remember…together we can BE BRAVE!

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Skin Diaries This is Brave

This is Brave: Marit Peterson

My journey started almost fourteen years ago when my mom noticed a raised pink bump on the base of my right ring finger. I was only a year old at the time. For many months, my mom took me to numerous doctors to try and find answers. Each one told her it was nothing; however, she thought otherwise. She thought it looked like a melanoma lesion my grandfather had years prior. Her continual pestering to doctors finally worked, and I was called in for a 30-minute “cosmetic” surgery to just remove the bump. The 30-minute surgery turned into two hours, and afterwards the doctors sent the tissue they removed to be biopsied at several leading cancer centers. All of the results came back inconclusive. After weeks of back and forth, I was finally referred to MD Anderson Cancer Center. It was there that my melanoma was confirmed, and my cancer journey began.

Being that melanoma was known as an old person disease, people didn’t take me seriously. One time, someone told my mom to get me out of the melanoma clinic because children weren’t allowed to be there. Little did they know that I was the patient.

At MD Anderson, I met the doctor that saved my life, Dr. Jeffrey E. Lee. At this point in time, for a melanoma diagnosis like mine, the life expectancy was just six months. And this was for adults – I was only a toddler. However, that was not the plan for me, and I write this 156 months after my diagnosis, living life to the fullest because I wasn’t even supposed to have a life at all.

Following my surgeries, I had a port put in and year-long treatment with interferon. For a solid year, I experienced extremely high fevers (up to 105!), night terrors and was a very sick little girl. But, I survived, and for that I am grateful.

Surprisingly, I have no memories from my cancer treatments. It must be God’s way of protecting me from those bad memories.

Although my family and I were thrown down a path that no one would ever want to go, we decided to make the best of it. In the year following my treatment, my mom and grandfather, the one who had a melanoma like mine, established the Marit Liv Peterson Fund for Melanoma Research with the goal of raising half a million dollars to support melanoma research at MD Anderson Cancer Center. We began by asking family and friends to contribute, but half a million dollars proved to be too difficult of an amount to raise with them alone. That’s when we decided to hold our first golf tournament to help raise money. Since we began, 100% of every dollar raised has gone directly to Dr. Lee and his melanoma research team. And every year, Dr. Lee and his team join us for free skin screenings and to report back on the research that was funded by the golf tournament. To date, we have raised over two million dollars and have caught five melanomas and numerous other skin cancers on our players through the skin screenings.

Although my melanoma was likely genetic, I do all in my power to help educate others on melanoma prevention. In 2016, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) reached out to me and my family and invited us to go out to Washington, D.C., to advocate for melanoma research. We were taught about needs in the melanoma community such as funding and education. Then, the next day, we went to Capitol Hill and spoke with our senators and representatives about these topics relating to melanoma. We have been going to D.C. for the past four years and through this, we have connected with Coolibar! When I was in 8th grade, I was invited to go to the MRF’s Pediatric Summit in Colorado Springs, Colorado, where I took place in a mini fashion show wearing Coolibar clothes. It was super fun for me and all the little kids there.

The path that someone takes when presented with a challenge can say a lot about who they are as a person. When my family and I were presented with cancer, we decided to make the most of it. As weird as it sounds, my cancer has given me so many amazing opportunities that have given me a greater look on life and how I should appreciate every day that I have.

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Skin Diaries This is Brave

This is Brave: Patrick Guddal

In the spring of 2016, I felt a small bump on my scalp. I didn’t think much of it. I figured I scratched myself in my sleep. Instead of healing, it got bigger, and eventually, my barber identified it as a mole. I went to the clinic and was immediately referred to outpatient surgery for a punch biopsy. I got a call early the next day to return to the hospital where I was told of my stage II melanoma diagnosis. I was completely blindsided. I was the first diagnosis in the entire history of both sides of my very large extended families, one side with six family practice physicians. Preventive medicine was a priority in my family, but the word “melanoma” was never uttered. I grew up in an era before sunscreen and video games, where we played outside until the streetlights came on.

After removal of the mole with clear margins and a positive sentinel lymph node biopsy, my diagnosis advanced to stage 3b nodular melanoma, and subsequently I faced another surgery removing 81 lymph nodes from my neck. Fortunately, all tested negative for melanoma. I had started a new position as a librarian in between my two surgeries and was about to start a three-year immunotherapy regimen the following month. The combination of healing from two surgeries, a new position at work, and three years of upcoming treatment with unpredictable side effects was a lot on my plate in the summer of 2016.

That fall, I had no idea my life was about to change, again. I was working an “Ask Us” shift at the library I wasn’t even scheduled for, and I receive an inquiry about the availability of a meeting room in one of our branches. I pasted the link into our conversation and politely added a reminder to review our policies. We were nearly past the pleasantries and about to disconnect when I saw a comment that the purpose of the room was to start a melanoma support group. I answered back “Stage 3 Warrior here!” and I received an invitation to attend. There I met Robyn (my fellow Be Brave Warrior in this campaign), and my door opened into the world of melanoma education and advocacy.

It started small. I started with an online support group, and slowly learned what others were doing with regard to efforts in raising awareness, teaching prevention, and advocating for research funding. I became a Certified Educator through the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF), and in May 2017 posted a blog on our library’s SharePoint page with statistics about the disease I thought were important. I was then asked by my employer’s health and wellness division to do the same for the county page, and the response was overwhelming. I received so many emails containing personal stories from colleagues, some of which were very heartbreaking. At that point, I was asked if I could teach a couple of classes on awareness and prevention, which I have for the last three years, in addition to working a table at my employer-sponsored health fair each spring, handing out sunscreen and teaching sun safety.

In March 2018, I took my first trip to the Advocacy Summit & Hill Day in Washington DC, an event sponsored by the MRF which creates opportunities to speak with our state legislators asking for their support of measures to fund research and education. I also created my own event at the Minnesota State Capitol on Melanoma Monday, Rock Your Black at the Capitol. We wear black and share educational materials and information with our representatives and visitors to raise melanoma awareness at the state level. In 2019, Coolibar joined our event to help us reach and educate even more Minnesotans.

In 2019, in addition to Hill Day and my own events, I had the honor of participating in With love, Me, a national peer-to-peer cancer support campaign offered by Merck as part of their Your Cancer Game Plan. I had the opportunity to meet fellow patient advocates and participate in important work at the national level. Also—and perhaps the most gratifying of all my work—has been my nomination to the last two Congressionally Directed Medical Research Program peer reviews, where I participated as a consumer reviewer alongside reviewers in the scientific and clinical communities to critique and score research proposals in the hopes of being awarded federal funding.

2020 will be bigger than ever. I just launched a nonprofit, Connect Melanoma with the support of fellow This is Brave warriors, Robyn Fine and Cheryl Adams. It’s the official home of the Black Ribbon Army. We plan to develop and pilot a K-12 sun safety curriculum, with the hopes of making it compulsory education nationwide. In addition, are plans to wrap a car and conduct popup sun safety at outdoor events, as well as continued efforts to advocate for research and education funding.

Through all of my previous networking to future endeavors, I plan on continuing to remain connected but also help as many people as I can to not feel alone in their own melanoma journey.

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Live Wisely Wear to Where

When to Wear a Sun Hat

Some of the most common places to be diagnosed with skin cancer – face, scalp, and ears – are located on your head… So choosing to wear a hat, especially one that is UPF 50+, just makes sense. The bigger challenge is trying to figure out when it is most crucial to have one on your noggin.

Reading a Good Book on the Beach

Whether it’s the ocean or poolside, having your favorite read teamed up with a wide-brim hat is the duo you’ve been looking for. Spend more time getting into that New York Bestseller and less time worried about the sun.

Coolibar Choice:

Hitting Up the Country Club

Have a membership at the local country club? Hours of direct sunlight on the golf course or tennis courts adds up and can be detrimental to your skin health. With the reapplication of sunscreen and a good hat on your head, you should comfortably be able to play 18 holes unscathed by the sun.

Coolibar Choice:

Fishing on the Lake

Summer is all about going up to the cabin, taking the boat out and taking advantage of the good weather. For the big fishers out there that just love being on the water and lose track of time easily, a hat with extended coverage is vital because of the straight hours of direct sunlight and the UV rays reflecting off the water. 

Coolibar Choice:

Running Errands Around Town

It’s your day off and it has to be spent buying groceries, stopping by the bank, picking up the kids from school, going to the dentist’s office and countless other things on your agenda. With all that scheduled for your day, the accumulated UV rays add up quickly!

Pro tip: Keep a packable sun hat in your car or purse to always be ready for the sun.

Coolibar Choice:

Paired with the Perfect Outfit

A very underrated piece of an outfit that can really bring the whole look together is a well-styled hat. There may be no better time to have a perfectly selected wide-brim hat than for a Kentucky Derby party or event!

If you are struggling to find the right one, our team has designed a guide to help you find the perfect hat that works with your face shape.

Coolibar Choice:

Taking the Dog for a Walk

Our furry companions need their exercise too, it’s an important part of being a pet owner. With that being said, typically, you’re taking the dog out for a little stroll during the day while UV rays are present. It shouldn’t be a very time-intensive chore to get prepped for a walk! Simply apply a little SPF 30+ sunscreen and a hat… and voilà!

Coolibar Choice:

Enjoying the Great Outdoors

This one is for you adventure seekers that love camping in the woods and exploring nature! If you’re the weekend warrior that joins every hiking group they can, you need a great sun hat paired with some long sleeves.

Coolibar Choice:

Regardless of the activity, you’re doing and the style you choose, make sure to get in the habit of wearing sunscreen on your face with your hat to help lessen the chances of extreme sun exposure even when wearing a hat .

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Live Wisely

6 Easy New Year’s Resolutions You Must Try this Year

New year, new you. It’s a phrase we are all very familiar with and tell ourselves every 12 months. In a recent study, they found that approximately 80% of resolutions fail by February.

The secret to successful resolutions is keeping them realistic and attainable in a way that you feel progress from the start. Go for the win by focusing on things that give you emotional satisfaction as well as outward results. So, here are 6 little things you can easily do to feel good and realign goals you’ve been carrying for the last few days, weeks or perhaps even years. But, this year is different because it is YOUR year.

1. Get Outside

Almost every year, it seems like people sign up for a new spin class or a personal trainer at their local gym. They dedicate themselves to it for two months and burn out. Don’t worry about joining a club, just get outside. It can be as simple as going on a 30-minute walk before you start your day to going on a quick bike ride around the neighborhood in the afternoon. The fresh air will recharge you! Don’t sacrifice your skin though. Keep sun-safe and cool in a hat and UPF 50+ clothes made for fitness, like those that have cooling technology built in.

2. Sign Up for a Lesson or Class

Never too old to learn a few new tricks! An always popular choice is taking up golf or tennis. Just make sure to cover up for all that added sun exposure! Other ideas could be learning a new language or picking up a new computer skill. You’ll never regret owning an abundance of diverse skills later in life.

3. Rekindle Important Relationships

Life gets crazy. It’s inevitable. But NEVER lose sight of, or become too busy for, your friends and family. Make one phone call a week with a distant friend; simply inviting family over once a month for dinner (delivered if you’re not into cooking); that’s all it takes. once a week, to simply inviting family over once a month for dinner, that’s all it takes, and it goes a very long way. At the end of the day, the relationships we have are more valuable than anything imaginable.

4. Take Care of Your Skin

This is one we are really challenging you to this upcoming year. How often are you consciously thinking about the amount of sun exposure you are receiving every day? Whether you are in the car or at work, there are so many sneaky ways that we are exposing ourselves to UV rays! A good habit to start as soon as possible is applying a broad-spectrum SPF of at least 30 daily. Afraid of needing to reapply or having an oily feel to your skin? Choose UPF 50+ clothing that blocks out 98% of UV rays and never washes out!

5. Indulge Once a Week

A classic resolution, like dieting, can be extremely tricky, hence the reason it is a reoccurring challenge. One of the secrets is balance and easing into it. Start by dedicating 5 days a week of healthier food choices and then rewarding yourself with a cheat meal. If you become too obsessed with it right away you will become miserable, and nobody wants to associate food with misery. If you are struggling with figuring out where to start, here’s a great beginners guide to understanding food.

6. Be Kind to Yourself

Be good to yourself. Do nice things for yourself. Reward yourself for all your hard work. We can get so caught up in our jobs or daily chores and forget to take care of ourselves. Need a spa day? Have it. You’ve been looking at that new bike for a while? Get it. That tropical vacation you’ve had your eye on? Book it. Try and do one thing completely for yourself at least once a week.

New Year’s is an end and a beginning. It allows you to turn the page and focus on the new goals you’ve just created for yourself. But remember, all of this depends on you and how ready you are to commit. Make the most of 2020. We are all rooting for you!

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Live Wisely

Skin Care Musts in the Fall & Winter

Even though the sun may not feel as warm in the fall, UV rays do not end at Labor Day. Sun protection and nurturing skin is no longer a regimen solely for summertime. In fact, doctors warn that cooler months are more dangerous because the sunshine of summer, that serves as a reminder to reach for sunscreen, is gone. So, here’s your nudge to take care of skin as fall gets into full swing. No matter how cool the temperature feels, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can still cause damage to the DNA in our skin within just a few minutes. While UVB rays (burning rays) lessen as the earth rotates away from the sun, UVA rays (aging rays) remain strong with the same intensity year-round. UVA rays powerfully beam through office windows, car windows, clouds, and fog. And UV damage to our DNA is cumulative. Here are some tips for fall and winter skincare and sun protection:

Do Not Stop Wearing Sunscreen

Use broad-spectrum sunscreen daily on all exposed skin, neck, ears, back of hands and your face daily. In locations where snow flies, UV rays reflect off glistening surfaces like snow, and in warmer locations, UV rays bounce off grass, sand, water, and cement back at your face. Be proactive and protect your face daily with an excellent sunscreen of SPF 30 or more. In fact, dermatologists explain the use of sunscreen, when it starts to really cool down, as a “must”. For women, consider using sunscreen as a base layer before applying cosmetics. Many mineral-based sunscreens are moisturizing and protecting at the same time. Apply, rub vigorously so they are fully absorbed, then apply any cosmetics. For men, apply a mineral-based sunscreen as a daily moisturizer and keep a tube handy in the car for reapplications. Don’t stop at your face, cover your neck, chest, and tops of hands.

Use an SPF Lip Balm

Most people are unaware that lips do not contain melanin, our skin’s natural defense against ultraviolet radiation. Lips are particularly vulnerable year-round, but in months when the air is drier, they are also susceptible to drying and cracking.

Consider Cosmetics with Built-in SPF

According to Paula’s Choice Skincare, after a layer of broad-spectrum SPF 30, women can use a makeup primer of SPF 20 and a foundation with SPF 15. While the layers of protection don’t aggregate and add up to SPF 65, the layering approach has the benefit of better overall coverage of sunscreen. In general, most people do not apply sunscreen thickly enough. By layering these products one upon the other, this technique provides a “thicker” layer of protection against sun damage.

Reconsider Your Cleanser

When humidity drops in cooler weather, you may want to compensate by switching up your cleanser to a moisturizing cleanser. Look for hydrating ingredients that don’t strip your skin of moisture. Or, if you love your skincare program and don’t want to risk skin irritation by trying a new cleanser or moisturizer, there are ways to keep your routine and just boost it for the winter.

Moisturize Nightly

Follow nightly cleansing with a moisturizer made for nighttime. The right nighttime moisturizer will help protect against the red chafed skin in winter and help nourish your skin. If you have sensitive skin, or you’ve experienced reactions to various products, we recommend you meet with your dermatologist. They can evaluate your skin health and offer suggestions on a regimen for sensitive skin that won’t cause irritation before switching.

Wear UPF 50+ Clothing in the Car

UPF 50+ sun sleeves or sun gloves are ideal for days driving. UVA rays (aging rays) penetrate car windows and office windows. The Skin Cancer Foundation cites nearly 53 percent of skin cancers in the U.S. occur on the left, or the side receiving rays while driving. UVA rays are hitting your skin on a road trip, while running errands or driving kids to soccer. In fact, they are reaching your kids too. The Skin Cancer Foundation says clothing is the first line of defense against the sun. Having UPF 50+ clothing in the car or at the office – coverage for arms, hands, necks, and chests, like a long sleeve hoodie or wrap, a neck bandana, sun sleeves and sun gloves – make sun protection effortless. The more you’re covered, the more you’re protected.

Keep the Sun Off Your Face with a UPF 50+ Hat

UV rays impact the tops of heads as much as any other exposed part of our bodies. So, while you’re out walking the dog to keep her healthy, wear a hat with at least a 3” brim and apply SPF 30+ broad-spectrum sunscreen to other exposed areas.

When seasons change, people forget there’s still sun and sun damage. Get fall-winter ready and stay sun safe with tips above. It’s also an ideal time to check in with your dermatologist and get their recommendations for cool weather skincare.

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Inside Coolibar What's Hot

What the Heck is a Rash Guard?

And why should you buy one? If you grew up in Australia, as Coolibar’s founder did, you already know the answers to these questions. If you didn’t, allow us to explain.

A rash guard is almost always a shirt, specifically one that’s worn in or around water. This might seem strange; after all, we have swim shirts and wraps and beach cover ups that do the same thing, right? But the original Australian rash guard was called a rash guard (or “rashie”) for its ability to protect against rashes.

In the beginning, rash guards were almost exclusively for men. Almost all of these men were surfers and most of the rashes came from chafing – against fast-moving water, or against sand caught in waxed surfboards. These rash guards fit very tightly so they didn’t rub against the skin at all; sometimes people even used them underneath wet suits to protect them from neoprene chafing.

Rash guards were normally fashioned from combinations of polyester, nylon, lycra or spandex for stretch, breathability and quick-drying properties.

All of the above is still true today. But nowadays you don’t have to surf to wear a rash guard (in fact there are specialized rash guards for a variety of sports including baseball).

You don’t have to be a guy, either – women’s rash guards are available in a range of colors and styles.

Do you have kids? Rash guards are also available for children of all ages as well. From babies to teenagers, you can have the entire family in UPF 50+ rash guards!

In fact: you don’t even have to be athletic to wear a rash guard. It helps…but it’s no longer necessary.

Much of this is because many of the “rashes” that today’s rash guards prevent are not caused by surfboards or saltwater or too much body motion. Rash guards today actually guard against the sun’s UV rays – good old-fashioned sunburn.

That means UPF 50+ sun protection. And all of a sudden, a rash guard isn’t so strange after all.

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Skin Diaries

Amy Nichole: “Love the Skin You Were Given”

My name is Amy Nichole. I’m a fine art portrait photographer specializing in children’s & teen photography. For my career, I’m always outdoors and occasionally in the studio. Since birth, I’ve always had very pale skin with freckles and a reddish tone to my hair. At the age of 8, I received an awful sunburn that actually resulted in a birthmark looking design on my right arm and parts of my back. Following the incident, my mother brought me in to see a doctor, but they just pushed it aside and chalked it up as a bad reaction to the sun.

Let’s fast forward to my teens, it was the IT thing to have tan skin. Being of British and Irish descent, my fair skin wasn’t going to tan easily. From laying out in the sun for hours covered with oil to using the tanning spray alternatives, I tried everything you could think of! With all my attempts of trying to fit in, my “birthmark” only got darker and that’s when the moles and spots started to appear.

At this point, I scheduled an appointment to have a dermatologist take a closer look at all these odd-spots, which lead to biopsies left and right. Every single extraction the doctor performed and examined came back as pre-cancerous. Although disheartened by the results, I’m thankful that this first scare educated me on the importance of constantly checking your skin and prepared me for the future I had ahead.

I’d begun getting skin checks every 3-6 months and made my skin health a top priority following my time with the dermatologist. During a personal ABCDE (Asymmetry. Border. Color. Diameter. Evolving.) in June 2016, a spot on my upper chest had drastically changed in size. I expressed my concern to my dermatologist and she agreed that biopsying would be appropriate. THANK GOODNESS I was so proactive! 4 days later, she personally called me to say that it was melanoma and was at Stage 1B and very close to transitioning to Stage 2. We scheduled my first excision quickly and successfully removed the melanoma before it worsened.

Since that day, my life revolved around taking care of myself while outdoors. I started always wearing long sleeves, hats, pants, you name it! That’s when I was introduced to Coolibar from the surgeon who performed my surgery. With my line of work and living in Nevada, I’m always outside and it gets difficult to cover up with the extreme heat, but I’ve been able to make it work.

After two years of being cancer free, I had my next scare. I began seeing a new dermatologist that was very highly recommended in the area, working with celebrities and high-profile individuals. After switching though, I just never felt like we were on the same page. For months I was still doing the 3-month check-ins to be safe but at one point he’d insisted for us to make it a checkup once a year – I declined this suggestion quickly. In February 2019, I was still with the same dermatologist and we came up to our eventually agreed upon 6-month appointment and I came in with concerns of a new spot that had randomly appeared. There was a little back-and-forth on next actions but I requested he take no chances and biopsy.  Just a few days later, he called me to let me know that “random” spot was, in fact, Stage 1A melanoma. While having my first Mohs surgery, they had to go in 3 times, so the whole operation was over 6 hours. During the visit, I requested the surgeon biopsy one other spot that had grown over a scar I had from a pre-cancerous removal. Guess what! Those results also came back as a 3rd melanoma diagnosis.

I’ve finally been upgraded to an oncologist for further testing. I’m not going to let this bring me down or define me whatsoever. I have an amazing support system and know it’s not going to be an easy road ahead. But, the scars and the love I have from everyone is what’s going to help me get through this. I even put on a special portrait session for 12 kids, that was inspired by the “This is Brave” Campaign, and we raised $900 for the Skin Cancer Foundation. You can see a lot of the images from the photoshoot within my blog! I wanted to help the younger generation be more aware about protecting their skin.

After reading my journey up to this point, I want you to take a little advice. We do need to put our faith in the doctors but also you NEED to be your biggest advocate. You are the one that sees your own skin 24/7. Protect yourself, love the life you live, scars are beautiful, and they will never define you. But most importantly, love the skin you were given.

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Skin Diaries

A Mission That Goes Beyond a Career

“Dry skin, maybe psoriasis, it’s nothing”, that’s what 3 different dermatologists told me when I asked about a small patch of skin behind my left ear. It came and went over at least 10 years and sometimes itched and felt dry. Sometimes I could barely feel it. I obviously couldn’t see it and they were the experts, so I assumed it was just my sensitive skin acting up. Maybe I didn’t wash behind my ears enough?

The itchy, dry patch behind my ear was basal cell cancer. Ironically, I was diagnosed 2 weeks after I started working at Coolibar. As VP of Brand Marketing and Creative Services at the time, I was immersing myself in the mission, sun-facts, warrior stories and education about prevention and our unique sun-protective clothing and accessories. It was kind of like Googling “skin cancer” except the knowledge I had gained in my first few weeks at Coolibar was completely factual. I had a heightened awareness of the potential consequences of my diagnosis. Although basal cell cancer is slow growing, I’d had it for over a decade. The voice inside my head immediately began cussing every derm who has ever looked at it and not taken the step to biopsy, even when I was advocating for myself. I was really angry! But that quickly turned into thankfulness for my primary care doctor who had referred me to Dr. Mary Meighan, who listened carefully, asked thoughtful questions and took her time during my annual skin check. I wasn’t even going to say anything about that itchy patch, but I did. Thank goodness.

I have practiced sun-safety for the majority of my life. During my teen years, I realized that even if I was tan, no one noticed because my skin is naturally very pale. So, while everyone else was tanning, I decided to be a rebel and achieve the palest skin possible. That said, I remember getting burned. In fact, there is a family story about me falling asleep curled up in a fishing boat and getting sunburned across the exposed strip of skin between my top and pants around age 3. I personally remember getting a brutal burn on my back as a teen, after spending the day at a surfing lesson with only SPF 30 lotion to protect me. My father got diagnosed with melanoma in his late 70’s. I knew it was in my cards. But, as they say, nothing prepares you for that diagnosis.

The suspense was killing me. How bad was it? I felt humbled by my vanity. I didn’t want a big scar. But the bigger fear was that I didn’t want cancer or any limitation from being a mother to my 10-year old daughter. Dr. Meighan referred me to her colleague at Zell Clinic, Dr. Karl Vance for Mohs surgery. I arrived for surgery and told him that I worked at Coolibar and that I was going to write a blog about my experience to help educate and support others. He was immediately all in and couldn’t have been more accommodating, narrating his every move. He even let me go behind the scenes where he was literally looking thru a microscope at the skin graft he’d just taken from behind my ear. He was making sure he got all the cancer in his first cut and wanted to see a minimum 2mm edge of clean cells all the way around the cut and he said, with some well-earned pride, that it was important for him to retain his stellar record. 99% of his Mohs surgeries got the cancer with the first cut. His record remained intact and so did my ear.

The cancer hadn’t gone very deep and only a little over an inch around. It was tiny compared to the skin cancer warrior’s I’d met on the Coolibar blog. I didn’t need to experience skin cancer to want to work at a mission-driven company like Coolibar. I already knew that tan skin is damaged skin and sun protection promotes anti-aging. My friends who worshipped the sun in their younger years now look their age and I, the eccentric pale girl, often pass for younger. But here I am, a cautionary tale, waiting for the next diagnosis. Hoping it’s not the big M. Take care of your skin! Get skin checks by a qualified dermatologist. Check your loved ones. Self-advocate with your doctors. Spread the word. That’s what I’m doing at Coolibar.

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Live Wisely

The Secret Advantage of Long Sleeves

On a hot, sunny day, long sleeves get a bad wrap. In fact, when it’s hot out, a wearer in long sleeves will endure laughter and ridicule on the golf course and the endless question, “Aren’t you hot in that?” Here’s the good news, if you wear UPF 50+ long sleeves when the rays are pummeling you, you no longer have to contend with those who simply don’t know the secret advantage of long sleeves.

The fact is that when the sun is shining and temperatures rise, UV protected long sleeves keep you safe from sunburn and keep you cooler. Doctors have long recommended wearing UV sun protective clothing as a way to prevent sun damage and protect against skin cancer; however what science is now proving that blocking UVA/UVB rays in combination with long sleeves actually keeps us cooler too.

A number of years ago, an inquisitive research team led by C Richard Taylor and Virginia Finch of Harvard University and Amiram Shkolnik and Arieh Borut of Tel Aviv University were puzzled by the ability of the Bedouins of the Sinai to minimize solar heat loads in a hot desert. The study, aptly called Why Do Bedouins Wear Black Robes in Hot Deserts?, measured the people’s overall heat gain and loss in the robes, considering their amount of coverage, long sleeves and the color of their robes.

A volunteer wearing different levels of coverage and different colored clothing was faced into the midday sun in the desert for 30 minutes. Withstanding 95F, the volunteer placed in the Negev desert at the bottom of the rift valley between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Eilat wore either: 1) a black Bedouin robe; 2) a similar robe that was white; 3) a tan army uniform; or 4) shorts (that is, he was semi‑nude).

The results were surprising, but not surprising. Long sleeves and more clothing kept the wearer cooler. As the report puts it: “The amount of heat gained by a Bedouin exposed to the hot desert is the same whether he wears a black or a white robe. The additional heat absorbed by the black robe was lost before it reached the skin.”

As far as desert temperatures in our everyday world, when it’s hot, our bodies sweat as a natural cooling mechanism. Let’s face it, sweat sitting on skin feels sticky and damp. Then often, the temptation is to “release” heat by removing clothes or wearing short sleeves, leading to damaging sunburn. Comfortable loose fitting UPF 50+ long sleeves in a wicking fabric transfers sweat away from skin so it can dry, and it creates a small air flow between skin and fabric to keep it cool while protecting against sunburn and UV damage.

While long sleeves can actually keep skin dry and cool, when it’s exceedingly hot, long sleeves are not a replacement for drinking liquids. Medical professionals will always recommend wearing a sun hat, UV clothing, taking frequent shade breaks, using a UV umbrella for portable shade and drinking plenty of hydrating fluids.

So, the next time friends question if you’re too hot in your long sleeves, you have your answer. Recommendations are for sleeves that are loose enough for some air flow. Long sleeve styles like UPF 50+ wraps layered over a tank top or accessories like UPF 50+ scarves channel air in, around and flow heat out, like a bellows. As for the color debate, it appears dark is not an issue as far as staying cool in the deserts. Nor, would we suppose, it be an issue around the pool or on the boat either.

Sources:

Strange, but true: science’s most improbable research, The Guardian.

The heat and the hazard: 9 facts about summer health, The Washington Post.

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