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Beyond Scared: A Spirited Mom Fights Back

Georgina Kerstin Thrill Ride - Coolibar Melanoma Survivor Series

As Melanoma Awareness Month continues, so does the Coolibar Melanoma Survivor Series. This week: Georgina Kerstin of Naperville, Illinois.

Georgina Kerstin first felt the itch on her right calf in late spring, 2006. The source was a mole just below the knee. At the time, she was a busy mother of two – maybe a little too busy, a “doer” mom with a lively spark that made her ambitions slightly bigger than her calendar. She did not get to the doctor for a biopsy until July.

“When the call came and I heard the words, ‘you have melanoma,’ I didn’t know what life had in store for me,” she says. “Until you hear those words, you don’t understand. My doctor proceeded to tell me she already scheduled an appointment with the ‘melanoma doc’ in Chicago.

“I was beyond scared.”

The first surgery was scheduled at the beginning of August. Georgina was diagnosed with early Stage III melanoma; microscopic metastasis was found in her sentinel lymph node. Two weeks after the first surgery came another, a right thigh dissection that removed 13 more lymph nodes.

“By the grace of God, all of those lymph nodes were clean,” Georgina says.

A Tough Decision

The doctor told her that her only option was to undergo high-dose interferon treatments for one year. Melanoma survivors Georgina Kerstin and familyknow that this treatment tends to me tough on the body, But for Georgina, it would afford a seven percent better chance against recurrence.

“That is not a large number to be sick while on treatment for one year,” Georgina says today. “I thought, okay, I can handle this, but this is a year.  Do I do this? Do I not do this? What if I don’t do it and the melanoma comes back? I’m gonna kick myself. What if I don’t do this and I end up dying?”

These were just the surface thoughts. The kids were 18 months and four and a half years old. Georgina’s job as a mother had just begun. Her schedule was very busy and active as a stay-at-home mom. Her husband struggled with the diagnosis as well – he had trouble with Georgina being sick at all. It was, to understate it greatly, a very difficult time.

The final choice: no interferon. “I just refused to let it beat me,” Georgina says. “This is my game, and I will win. You have an 18-month-old and a four-year-old and you have no other choice.”

A New Lifestyle

Instead, Georgina revamped her life – backward and forward. “This whole thing taught me how to be more in tune with my body,” she says. “I look back and go, ‘yeah, I had two young kids, I was run down, I was sleep deprived.’ And that’s how the melanoma had its way with my body. Because I was not taking care of myself.”

Yoga was “the best decision ever,” she says, to remain healthy in mind, body and spirit. She’s also lost 30 pounds, and kept it off.

The biggest change: her attitude about life and people. “I don’t have a filter anymore,” Georgina says. “I’ve learned about not having a problem with, if there’s a negative person in my life, to just cut them out. I am honest. I say the truth because I don’t have time for anything else.

“I am the bouncer from hell. This is my party, and this is my body, and melanoma is not welcome.”

Spokesperson for Sun Safety

True to form, Georgina pulls very few punches about melanoma and the rest of the world. “You can blame the media because of what they’re portraying – what we’re supposed to look like,” she says, “even though a lot of them get their spray tans. People say, ‘I have to get a tan, I have to fit a certain mold.’ And those of us who have had this battle, we’ve learned our lesson. Because in the ‘80s all I did was lay out and fry myself. And here I am.

“And I guess because of my life experience with the melanoma I’m like ‘whatever.’ I just do my own thing. I just want to have a nice peaceful life. I want to have balance and raise my kids to be good citizens. I want to live my life and enjoy it to the fullest.”

Thrill Ride - Melanoma Survivor Georgina KerstinGeorgina says her long-term goal is to educate friends, family and community on sun safety, and raise funds for research to further treatment options for melanoma patients. “I want to use my experience to show people how the sun rays are dangerous and melanoma is preventable with simple precautions,” she says. “I also have plans to have my own foundation someday, Mommies Against Melanoma, and would like to educate the children in our community on sun safety.

Georgina remains a spirited, busy mom – the spark is still there, but it’s balanced by a certain grace. Her children are nine and 12 years old now, and they are still her focus. She’s a volunteer at the local elementary school as the president of the Home and School Association.

She has also remained NED (no evidence of disease). In August, she will be eight years NED. “Until you hear those words I will still have anxiety,” she says. “You don’t count yourself eight years until it’s actually eight years. I don’t take anything for granted. I know what the disease is capable of doing.”

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Help Us Tell Hugh Jackman About Sun Protective Clothing!

Hugh Jackman - Sunscreen

At this point we are sure that you’ve seen the news about Hugh Jackman’s second skin cancer scare. On Instagram May 8, Hugh pleaded with his fans: PLEASE! PLEASE! WEAR SUNSCREEN!

We think this is a great message. But we believe that Coolibar sun protective clothing would be a fabulous solution as well! In case he doesn’t know, sun protective clothing is:

 

  • Easy to wear. You don’t have to reapply every two hours!
  • Suitable for water sports. We have several fabrics that are quick-drying and provide four-way stretch for activity in and out of the water.
  • Cool and comfortable. Lightweight, moisture-wicking material keeps you cool even in the hot sun.
  • Great-looking! Need we say more?

We think Mr. Jackman would look pretty good in a Coolibar sun hat, maybe a polo, not to mention an entire wardrobe of Coolibar UPF 50+ clothing. Do you think so, too? Tell him about sun protective clothing on:

Instagram: @TheHughJackman

Twitter: @RealHughJackman

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HughJackman?fref=ts

 

 

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It’s Melanoma Monday. How Much Do You Know?

Coolibar - Knowledge for Melanoma Monday

As it does each year, the American Academy of Dermatology has designated the first Monday in May as Melanoma Monday®. This chance to promote melanoma awareness and prevention is important to us at Coolibar, because we meet people who live with their melanoma diagnoses every day – and because we meet people who are not familiar with melanoma at all.

Knowing about melanoma can save your life – and sharing what you know can save others! Here is a short list of what we’d like people to understand about melanoma.

Melanoma is the Deadliest Form of Skin Cancer.

Some people understand skin cancer treatment as “you find a mole on your skin, you have it removed, that’s it.”

In fact, the majority of melanoma cases involves wide-excision surgery and a lymph node biopsy to determine if the melanoma has spread to other organs. This may be followed by a regimen of immunotherapy, chemotherapy or radiation treatments. In all cases, the possibility of recurrence must be carefully monitored. For melanoma survivors, the letters NED (no evidence of disease) become vitally important for many years.

Melanoma Affects Young People Too.Melanoma affects young people - Coolibar

The AAD says that melanoma is the most common cancer for young adults 25 to 29 years old, and the second most common for adolescents and young adults 15-29 years old.

It’s Easier Than Ever to Prevent Melanoma.

The single best way to prevent melanoma and other skin cancers is to limit exposure to the sun. But some people think that means giving up their favorite activities. Instead, here are a few simple tips to keep you active and healthy:

  • Apply a broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least SPF 30, and reapply after swimming or strenuous activity.
  • Wear sunscreen every day – up to 80% of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can reach your skin even when it’s cloudy.
  • Seek shade when necessary.
  • Wear sun protective clothing!

Meet Some Amazing Melanoma Survivors.Coolibar Melanoma Survivors May 2014

Each week during Melanoma/Skin Cancer Awareness Month, we’d like you to meet several very courageous people who can tell you about melanoma much better than we can. Their stories are powerful, personal and inspiring (and, unfortunately, similar to many others from people all over the world). But each one will change the way you think about your health and your life.

We’ll introduce the first of these people on Thursday, May 8.

In the meantime, help us spread the word about melanoma!

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Expert Rx

Healthy, Beautiful Skin is Made in the Kitchen

Tips for Healthy Skin

By Hanna Grinaker

Just like you and the rest of the world, I love food. But I like it even more if it is providing me with some kind of health benefit. Even if that health benefit is just to make me smile, or have beautiful glowing skin.

Our skin is one of the most powerful indicators of health. Wrinkles, dry or oily skin, acne and inflammation are all signs of poor internal health. They are also side effects that no amount of money spent on fancy skin care products can fix. Instead, focusing on whole foods, rich in vitamins and minerals lays the foundation for healthy, young-looking skin.

Let’s take a look at the some of the foods I incorporate into my diet to give my freckled face a little bit of gloSalmon and Egg - Coolibar Skin Carew.

1. Salmon or other fatty fish: Salmon is extremely high in omega-3s, an essential fatty acid. Essential fatty acids must be obtained in the diet because the body cannot produce its own essential fats. These fats are responsible for skin repair, moisture content, and overall flexibility. I roast salmon filets in the oven (sometimes on a cedar plank to enhance the flavor) and try to do this 2-3 times a week.

2. Citrus fruits: Citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, which is highly effective at reducing free radical damage. Free radicals form in the body when we are over-exposed to sun and pollution, and these nasty buggers can cause wrinkles and other signs of premature aging. For that matter, I try to eat oranges, grapefruits or sliced bell peppers for snacks, all plentiful in vitamin C.

Avocado - for healthy skin - Coolibar3. Avocados: Is there anything better than the rich, buttery taste of a perfectly ripe avocado? I think not. In fact, I often just cut one in half, sprinkle on some coarse sea salt and go to town on it with a spoon. But besides their incredible taste, avocados are rich in vitamin E, another powerful antioxidant that can reduce the effects of sun exposure and hydrate dry, rough skin.

4. Sweet potatoes: Sweet potatoes are loaded with vitamin A. Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin that promotes proper repair and maintenance of the skin, and can actually offset the appearance of a dry, flaky complexion. I cube sweet potatoes (skin and all), drizzle with olive oil and rosemary and roast them in the oven for a delicious, vitamin-A filled accompaniment to dinner.

5. Eggs: Eggs, in any form, are delicious and one of those foods that can be eaten at any time of the day. Not only are they incredibly satiating, they are full of zinc. Zinc is a mineral that is required for proper immune function, and can actually control the production of oil in the skin. Those who suffer from acne, especially, can benefit from including more zinc in the diet. Move out of the way, Neutrogena!

You really are what you eat, and since we can’t really serve ourselves up some Blake Lively on a platter, we might as well go the more natural route to achieve that beautiful, health, glow we all yearn for!

 

Hanna GrinakerHannah Grinaker is dedicated to fitness, health and, of course, food. She lives in Fargo, North Dakota and pursues an undergrad degree (her third) in dietetics and a masters degree in health at North Dakota State University. She is a soon-to-be-registered dietician and a lifelong-registered redhead. You can reach Hannah through her blog at http://www.fitgingersnap.com.

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Events Inside Coolibar Sun Protection Clothing SunAWARE Wear Sun Protection

9 Essential Items for a Fabulous (But Super Sun Safe) Spring Break

It used to be that when some of us went on spring break, getting lots of sun was the point. Or part of the point, sort of; but we digress.

Now, taking into account all that science says about wrinkles and melanoma and such, this is our best advice: Let’s be sensible. But while we’re at it, let’s also still be fabulous!

Here is our list of essential UPF 50+ sun protective Coolibar items to take with you on your sun safe spring break:

Swimwear

Quarter Zip Swim Shirt. If you hadn’t considered a top like this for actual swimming, go right ahead. Fabric is resistant to chlorine (for the pool) and saltwater (for the ocean) and dries quickly (for any body of water). On land, it just looks awesome.

Skirted Swim Capri. Protects against UVA and UVB. Stays comfortable in and out of water. Catches lots of eyes. Yup…this is new-school spring break gear all right.

Swim Cover Up

Coastline Dress. The beauty of this dress – besides the fact that it’s, you know, beautiful – is that you can keep wearing it long after you’ve used it as a swim cover up. You don’t even need to be near the water.

Pants

ZnO Beach Pants. Another thing we’ve learned while planning for spring break: wearing your swimsuit for an entire week isn’t as easy as you think. Hence these beach pants – as comfy as your sweat pants but much, much prettier.

Jacket

Boardwalk Jacket. Why this jacket? Because you always look cool, casual and composed. Even on spring break – the official home of spontaneous hot-and-cold adventure.

Sun Hat

Fedora Sun Hat. We just love this hat. You do, too. So take it along.

T-Shirt

ZnO Long-Sleeve T-Shirt. It’s like a regular t-shirt, only it’s cut for your figure. And it’s softer. And more breathable. And it coordinates better. It’s like your best friend, if your best friend also protected you from the sun.

Sunglasses

Smith Serpico Slim. Seriously. How do you go on any spring break without at least one item named “Serpico Slim?” Plus these Smith Optics sunglasses block 100% of UV rays.

Dress

Antigua TunicNo, you don’t have to be on break in Antigua to pull this off. In fact, it fits in (and on) pretty much anywhere.

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Educate Others Sun Protection Clothing SunAWARE

New Findings: Indoor Tanning is to Skin Cancer as Smoking is to Lung Cancer

If you believe that indoor tanning isn’t dangerous, this finding from a study recently released by JAMA Dermatology might change that.

In likely the first summary of international indoor tanning exposure, researchers determined that the number of diagnosed skin cancer cases due to tanning is higher than the number of lung cancer cases due to smoking.

Can It Be True?   

Taken at face value, the study tells us what smoking is to lung cancer, indoor tanning is to skin cancer. And in fact JAMA Dermatology provides documented evidence gathered in the US, Australia and Northern and Western Europe. Researchers reported:

“Overall, we estimate 419,039 cases of basal and squamous cell carcinoma (NMSC) and 10,888 cases of melanoma each year attributable to indoor tanning. To put this in perspective, approximately 362,941 cases of lung cancer are attributable to smoking each year in these regions.”

However, the same study notes that the general risk for lung cancer is much higher (it assumes 90 percent of all lung cancer diagnoses are attributable to smoking) than for skin cancer (up to 22 percent among indoor tanners). And the World Health Organization (WHO) reported on February 4 that lung, breast and colon cancers are still the most diagnosed worldwide.

But the new figures suggest an even more alarming trend. While smoking is declining worldwide, indoor tanning may actually be increasing. And the Skin Cancer Foundation cites a study by the American Cancer Society which says that each year in the US there are more new cases of skin cancer than the combined incidence of cancers of the breast, prostate, lung and colon.

Work To Be Done

Several US states have banned or restricted indoor tanning, and many others are considering it. But, while the WHO considers indoor tanning a group 1 carcinogen, tanning beds in the US are still regulated by the FDA as Class 1 medical devices (the same as bandages and tongue depressors).

Perhaps the best context for the work that still needs to be done comes from the JAMA Dermatology researchers, who said: “Despite the mounting evidence of harms of indoor tanning, data on the scope of this problem, with which to guide public health efforts are missing.”

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Educate Others Expert Rx SunAWARE

Ocular Melanoma: Skin Cancer in Your Eyes?

Yes, melanoma – known as the most serious type of skin cancer – can occur in your eyes! In fact, according to the Melanoma Research Foundation, ocular melanoma (also known as OM) is the second most common form of melanoma, with about 2,000 new cases diagnosed each year in the U.S. About half of OM cases are eventually fatal as the cancer spreads to other parts of the body.

And as with all melanoma or non-melanoma skin cancers, prevention starts with education. A terrific guideline: The greater your risk of developing skin cancer through exposure to UVA and UVB rays, the greater your risk of developing OM.

Why the Eye?

OM is similar to skin melanoma, but there are significant differences. Many people have heard of the natural pigment melanin, which gives our skin its particular color, and we might also know that melanoma develops from the cells which produce melanin. But these cells are not just in our skin. We carry them in our intestinal lining, and in our hair; they also give color to our eyes.

Who is at Risk?

Researchers at the Memorial Sloane-Kettering Cancer Center say that people most at risk for OM  generally:

  • Have fair skin, and tend to sunburn easily.
  • Have light-colored eyes.
  • Are of European descent, especially northern Europe.
  • Have occupations such as welding, where proper eye protection is vital.

Also, age is a factor: people 50 and above have a much greater risk of developing OM.

What Can You Do?

It’s important to realize that anyone can develop ocular melanoma. Our eyes are constantly exposed to the sun whenever we are outside, whether we are active on the tennis court or running errands in the car. We should pay attention to eye care right along with skin protection. Here are some tips:

– Invest in a good pair of sunglasses. Look for a pair that blocks 99-100 percent UVB and UVA rays. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN offers tips on selecting sunglasses.

– Wear a hat with at least a 3-inch brim (minimum recommendation of the American Academy of Dermatology).

– Start your children early on the path of UV protection. Get them into the habit of wearing sunglasses and hats.

Take it from melanoma survivor Timna: “EVERYONE needs to do everything they CAN do to protect their eyes”.

Check out our selection of sun protective sun hats and sunglasses.  All Coolibar sun hats are UPF 50+, and all sunglasses carried by Coolibar block 100% UVA/UVB rays.

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Excitement for Spring: Check Out the Fashion Trends Behind Coolibar’s 2014 Spring Line!

Coolibar Spring fashion 2014

 

We are knee deep in snow here in Minnesota, and like so many other places this year we eagerly anticipate the arrival of spring!  Along with the warmer temperatures, we can’t wait to see all of you showing off the latest spring and summer fashions for 2014.

Around the world, eye-popping new trends have been making their way down the runway and into Coolibar’s spring collection. Coolibar follows international fashion trends for spring 2014.

Our design director Olga Mashkova has been planning and implementing this year’s great looks.  The new 2014 UPF 50+ spring line will perk up your look – for men, women and kids – with fun pops of pattern and color. We are especially excited about new geometric and ikat prints, along with beautiful pallets of blue.

At Coolibar, we put fashion into action by integrating the most up to date looks with the skin protection required to keep you and your family safe in the sun. Check out the fresh new lineup for spring, available now at Coolibar!

 

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The Sun, Heat and Skin Cancer: Is Tennis Too Dangerous?

On days like this past Thursday in Melbourne, the answer is yes. That day, all matches in the Australian Open – the opening grand slam event in pro tennis each year – were suspended because of heat that climbed to 110 degrees F (40+ C).

That’s not sustainable for players or fans; if you happen to be either one, you know that tennis requires you to be out in the sun for hours at a time. But when it isn’t so hot, a larger and less obvious danger remains: how are people protecting themselves from UVA and UVB rays that can cause skin cancer?

In Australia – which as a nation has the highest rate of skin cancer in the world – this isn’t an unusual question. At this year’s Australian Open, officials have passed out sunscreen to fans and stocked it in the locker rooms. And well-known professional tennis players like John Newcombe of Australia and Felix Mantilla of Spain have had very public battles with skin cancer after their playing days were over.

Yet many tennis pros today say they don’t like to wear sunscreen. They cite the same reasons you might as a casual player (or a fan):  sunscreen is too slippery; it can feel like it’s blocking the body’s natural cooling process; it gets in your eyes.

Other players, like Australian former world No. 1 player Patrick Rafter (who played a doubles match in this year’s tournament), make it clear that sunscreen is a must. But what else can be done?

Patrick Rafter and Novak Djokovic at Australian Open Tennis champion Novak Djokovic posted this on Twitter from the Australian Open.

A great option that can no longer be overlooked is wearable sun protection.

In 2000, former tennis pro Chris Evert explained to a tennis magazine that her eyes had been permanently damaged by UV rays. Now, UV protective sunglasses and even contact lenses are available for players and fans.

But there’s much more available than that. In the same article, Evert mentioned that players had only recently begun wearing hats while playing. Now there’s a whole range of UPF 50+ sun protective hats in a variety of styles, with features like wide brims, breathable and quick-drying fabrics and removable neck drapes.

In fact, tennis players can now outfit themselves with entire ensembles – complete sun protection from head to foot. This is partly because of increased awareness about the dangers  of UVA and UVB rays, and partly because fashion has finally caught up with function.

Is tennis too dangerous? Even if you’re not playing in a prestigious professional tournament watched the world over, the answer should always be a resounding “no.”

Be SunAWARE and Be Safe!

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