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Hayden + Team Coolibar

Skin Diaries

Rocking Out for a Cause

“We’re going to keep stepping up and doing our part to prevent skin cancer through early detection. When it comes to making a difference, it’s all about showing up.”

I went to the beach with my children for a summer holiday in 2018.  When we returned home, I noticed a bump near my nose.  My first thought was, “A pimple? At this age? I better ramp up my face care routine”. After a week of scrubbing, and trying other blemish remedies, the bump was still there.  It was time to see a dermatologist.

The ensuing (my first ever) appointment with a dermatologist changed my life.  She started out by asking some background questions.

Doctor: What’s your personal skin history?

Me: Fair skinned guy that grew up in Florida during the 80’s.

Doctor: What was your SPF use while growing up?

Me: Cocoa butter and tanning oil. 

Doctor: What is your family skin history.

Me: Older brother with multiple skin cancers including melanoma.

Doctor: Arches her eyebrow and responds… Let’s take a look.

Thirty seconds later…

Doctor: You have skin cancer.

I remember thinking, “Wow, she gets right to it”. But then my years of military training kicked in and my thoughts switched to, “OK, how do we take care of this?”  She walked me through my options:

  1. Measure it and see if it grows
  2. Biopsy it and find out what it is 

I asked, “How is number 1 even an option?” Apparently, it’s not, but they’ve gotten feedback that people liked to have options for treatment, so they added number 1.  I had the sense to choose to cut it off.  

When the pathology report came back, I was stunned.  I had malignant cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma.  Years later, I’ve learned that there are much more severe and aggressive types of cancer that are more difficult to treat. But in that moment, I was terrified. I had cancer. There is a common theme in conversations I’ve had with others about their own cancer experiences: the moment when you learn you have cancer is as significant an emotional event as you will ever have.

So what now? I lived in the DC area, so I was sent to Walter Reed Medical Center to undergo MOHS surgery to remove the cancer.  The fantastic team there got all of it. It was the most amazing news I think I’ve ever heard. And just like that, my cancer story shifted from that of a patient to a survivor.

My cancer story is a positive one. I know full well it could have been far worse, but I had paid attention to changes in my skin and I had access to health care. Those two things made all the difference.  I began to wonder about those that aren’t aware of the importance of prevention and self-exams, and who don’t have access to health care. Having survived skin cancer because of early detection, I set out to find a way to do something about it. 

The fact that really caught my attention was this…

Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in America, but it is also the most treatable, with early detection.

Awesome…then why don’t we just detect it early for heaven’s sake?  If the cure for skin cancer is to find it early, then why do we do vision checks every year but not skin checks? Why is a skin screening a C priority in peoples’ lives, instead of an A priority?  I knew there had to be a way to get educated eyes looking at more people’s skin. I had a conversation with an artist friend that helped me switch the lights on and find an answer.

I had approached Pat McGee, a singer/songwriter/friend of more than 20 years, about playing a one-year cancer free show for me and some friends.  Our initial conversation was pretty…real.

Me: What do you think Pat?

Pat: I think it sounds remarkably self-indulgent.

Me: What if we raised money at the show and gave it to a charity.

Pat: Getting better.

A friend in the medical philanthropy world jumped in with the idea of doing multiple concerts to raise money. LIGHT BULB! The three of us outlined a plan for an organization that would focus on skin cancer awareness AND would get people started by giving them much-needed free screenings.  We Rock Cancer was born.

That one-year cancer free concert morphed into a We Rock Cancer launch event where half the attendees opted to be screened, and half of those that were screened had issues identified that required a dermatologist follow up or biopsy.  We were amazed.  We had found a way to enable early detection and provide people with the information they needed to take action in a timely manner.  All while they were attending a rock concert.  At the end of the event, one of our volunteer dermatologists observed:

“You guys have found a way to make skin cancer screenings cool!”

Since that night, a team of amazing volunteers has come together to grow our mission capability and our reach.  We immediately identified a mission goal to conduct free screenings for those that work in sun-intense occupations—landscapers, construction workers, lifeguards, golf course workers, etc.  We also started an outreach program to provide screenings focused on musicians and those in the music industry. The artists and techs that are the key to our public engagement often have extremely limited access to health care.

We also started a Youth Ambassador Program, so that we could help students and young adults be the messengers of sun safety in their school and athletic team environments.  We provide them with information and checklists to identify opportunities to improve sun safety and to work with organization leaders to make improvements.  Getting this information to young people at an age when they are first making decisions on their own regarding sun safety is essential to successfully prevent future skin cancers.

What’s next?  We are gratified that our message is resonating with those that realize spending a few dollars on prevention and early detection is the key to avoiding the dangers and expenses that come with skin cancer. We’re going to keep stepping up and doing our part to prevent skin cancer through early detection. When it comes to making a difference, it’s all about showing up. We’re grateful that our efforts garnered the attention of Coolibar. We’re in this mission together and are so grateful that they continue to show up for non-profits like us. We look forward to sharing their support with our community!

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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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This is Brave

This is Brave: Partnering with the Melanoma Research Foundation

Together We Can!

At Coolibar, our mission is everything. It’s the essence of our DNA, which is why we partner with organizations working hard to save lives like the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF). In addition to raising funding for life-saving research and science, their dedication to patients and caregivers is absolutely incredible. The endless, first-hand testimonials we’ve gotten say it all…

“When I needed answers and had no idea where to start, the MRF was there.”

“We’re so grateful for the support the MRF has given our family.”

“The MRF saved my life.”

This is why we became the Official Apparel Partner of the MRF in 2020. While their team works to fund life-saving research, treatments and education, we can help by protecting everyone under the sun with UPF 50+ clothing. In 2020 alone, we’ve gifted thousands of shirts to virtual Miles for Melanoma participants, outfitted every wonderful kiddo at the 2020 Pediatric Melanoma Summit, offered up raffle items to raise funds at Virtual Galas and sent care packages to patients and families needing more support this year. It’s an incredible partnership that truly puts people first.

2020 also marked the third year of This is Brave, our annual T-shirt fundraiser for the MRF. It all began when a young girl here in Minnesota 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 while battling pediatric melanoma, 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.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in their lifetime whether there is a pandemic or not. #CancerHasNoCurve. The good news is the MRF and the greater melanoma community continue 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!

We’re taking some time out this November to remind everyone of the important work of the Melanoma Research Foundation, and to continue to help them fundraise and support their community. 2020 has been a year full of …surprises. But cancer does not take a break, and neither will the MRF.

If you’re able, we’re asking you to support skin cancer awareness and the MRF. 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. Learn more about the MRF and the work it does to save lives.
  3. Consider donating to the MRF. They’ve created wonderful virtual programs to ensure that the funding for research and education remains strong.
  4. Purchase a 2020 This is Brave UPF 50+ T-Shirt or our Limited Edition Be Brave Umbrella for yourself or send it to someone as a sun-safe gift that gives. 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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This is Brave

This is Brave: Advocating for Protection and Prevention

There are various forms of advocacy. When it comes to working with lawmakers on federal, state and local levels to advocate for new and innovative science, and policies and regulations to benefit the melanoma community, the Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) leads the charge. They’ve helped increase melanoma research funding for all types of melanoma—including mucosal, ocular and pediatric—while improving access to quality care and skin cancer prevention activities. Some of its most notable accomplishments include preserving the indoor tanning tax, age restricting indoor tanning, and pushing for access to sunscreen in schools.

We are proud to be a part of that. For the past two years, a member of the Coolibar team has traveled to Washington D.C. to share their personal story and experience with melanoma. It’s an honor to join individuals from across the country to speak to our state representatives about the importance of skin cancer awareness and funding. Together, we’ve helped allocate millions of dollars to life-saving research. We welcome everyone with a skin cancer story to consider joining the MRF in Washington D.C. when we can all come together again. You can learn more here: https://melanoma.org/how-to-help/advocate/

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This is Brave

This is Brave: Advancing Research for Breakthrough Melanoma Treatments

Did you know…

The Melanoma Research Foundation (MRF) is the leading non-profit organization dedicated to eradicating melanoma by accelerating medical research. They are committed to advancing a broad scientific agenda across the disciplines of prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

From 1998 to 2020 the MRF grant program awarded 200 competitive, peer-reviewed programs across 75 institutions totally more than $18.8 million dollars. And they did that with your help!

The MRF distributes its research support amongst a vast array of individuals ranging from medical students all the way up to senior investigative teams. And they don’t limit it to cutaneous melanoma (the kind most are familiar with), they also fund rare subtypes including uveal, mucosal and pediatric melanoma.

There are five types of grants that YOU are helping fund when you support the MRF…

“So many of the patients that reach out to us are just looking for a new answer. A new path forward through their diagnosis. Being tuned into cutting-edge science and being connected to leading researchers allows us to point them down paths to information and clinical trials that ARE saving lives.”

Remember, every dollar utilized to fund research and science goes toward saving lives and giving people hope. TOGETHER WE WILL!

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This is Brave

This is Brave: Education and Support for Patients and Caregivers

One of the most important messages the Melanoma Research Foundation shares is:

You Are Not Alone.”

Melanoma is diagnosed in more than 196,000 Americans each year, and the numbers continue to rise across all races, ages and genders. Anyone can develop skin cancer. One of the MRF’s key roles is to support newly diagnosed patients, survivors and caregivers.

Doug Brodman, current board member, turned to the MRF as his first source for information and help when he was first diagnosed:

“Our family realized we needed to educate ourselves about this disease in order to better understand and prepare for the battle ahead. That’s when we discovered the Melanoma Research Foundation.”

-Read more about Doug’s story.

The “Newly Diagnosed” page starts with this advice:

You have been given a diagnosis, not a death sentence.”

When found early, melanoma is one of the most treatable cancers. In later stages, treatment may be more challenging but no matter how advanced your diagnosis is, the MRF has a plan for you. They’ve carefully outlined what you need to know, what you need from your treatment team, advice to help you get through appointments, access to information about clinical trials and financial assistance, and more. If you need it, it’s there. If it isn’t there, the MRF is connected with an entire community of medical professionals whose life’s work is to provide life-saving care.

Knowing what to do and who to talk to is huge, but many people will tell you the thing that got them through was the community. Patrick Guddal, melanoma survivor, MRF advocate, and founder of Connect Melanoma, likes to say:

“The skin cancer community is like a club that you never ever wanted to be admitted to. But once you’re there you never leave. The friends you meet and connections you make start to feel like home. I’m forever grateful for their role in my life.”

Read more about Patrick’s story.

There are a number of ways the MRF brings the community together. It hosts an online patient forum where you can connect with other patients and caregivers. It holds ongoing patient & caregiver meetings to provide opportunities to learn from leaders from major academic medical centers. It partners with other organizations like CancerCare, Imerman Angels and Patient True Talk to connect people to support groups or one-on-one help.

If you are, or know someone who is newly diagnosed, we strongly encourage you to visit the MRF’s Patients & Caregivers page. It can make all the difference in helping navigate a diagnosis.

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Live Wisely

Why You Need to Start Planning Now For Holiday Shopping

Too early to start planning for the holiday season? Nonsense. Due to COVID-19, online purchasing is up 28%, and the landscape of shopping, in general, will look much different this year. 

Some of us are always ahead of the game and trying to capture the best deals, while others are the last second gift-buyers. But regardless of whatever category you typically fall under, you’re going to want to be the former instead of the latter this year and we’re here to tell you why. 

Shipping. Shipping. Shipping. 

From lost packages to avoiding face-to-face deliveries, shipping has been a nightmare during the pandemic. Currently, shipping carriers have announced that they are already delivering at peak holiday numbers and they are estimated to be at a 5% over capacity. So, how do you beat this? Shop early and allow your order time to arrive so you do not unintentionally gain a part-time job tracking your own packages. 

Out of Stock Products 

Traditionally, Black Friday marks the unofficial start of the holiday season, but it is no secret now that the sale season will be kicking off as soon as mid-October. This means that some of the biggest deals and best-sellers may be short in inventory the longer you wait! If you decide to try and play the dangerous game of buying at the last second, you may end up being the person handing out gifts weeks after the holidays. 

Avoiding Busy Shopping Center 

For obvious reasons, brick-and-mortar shopping has become a tricky situation and it will only get more challenging when tons of people swarm to the malls around you! Whether it’s in the form of waiting in lines out in the cold or being in uncomfortably packed department stores, there’s so many reasons to avoid or at least limit the amount of time spent shopping at the mall. 

The holidays are already a stressful time. With so many additional stressors, do not make the season any harder than it must be! Get ahead with your planning, keep yourself and those around you healthy and enjoy being with your family. 

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Skin Diaries

Learning to Wear His Cancer with Pride

David Aizer, a South Florida TV personality who has hosted TV shows for Nickelodeon, CBS, The CW, Fox Sports and more, has taken his stage III Melanoma and turned it into a tool to motivate and inspire others. His five-year journey through PET scans, brain MRI’s, CAT scans, a two-year clinical trial, numerous vials of blood and constant anxiety showed him that everyone has two options in life:

  1. Be scared, angry and self-conscious about the challenges you’re facing.
  2. Embrace life’s challenges and be grateful.

He recently gave a motivational TEDx Talk where he challenged everyone to look at their battle scars, whatever they may be, and realize that they’re part of what makes you, you. Every scar is an opportunity to educate, motivate and inspire others. It’s a great listen for anyone, no matter the diversity you’ve faced in your life.

David also wrote a memoir about his experience. His first-person account of how battling melanoma impacted him is full of honesty and heart. His ability to look back, reflect and find the humor in his experience is something we all need. Be ready to laugh and cry, then call your doctor.

You can learn more about David Aizer on his website: https://www.daveaizer.com.

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Live Wisely Wear to Where

Why You Should Wear Gloves While Driving

If you follow us on Instagram, you have most likely seen us share dozens of Stories with our followers wearing their UPF 50+ gloves. To some, this may look or seem completely ridiculous to wear gloves while driving, but there is a lot of reasoning behind the logic of wearing them!

The average driver in the U.S. spends 17,600 minutes in their car each year, according to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. That is 293 hours! With all that potential sun exposure, your hands and arms suffer the most and are typically exposed to more UV rays while driving that most other parts of your body.

Even with all that time in your vehicle, you may feel like your car offers a lot of protection from the sun, but for the most part, that is just not true. Your windshield may block some UV rays, but your door windows offer minimal protection. An interesting, but true statistic is that typically the left side of our bodies show more sun-related aging because of the time spent driving!

So that brings us to the point of the entire blog… Why should I wear them? The answer is simple: To protect your hands from unnecessary sun exposure that leads to aging, wrinkly skin and skin cancer.

From fingerless to sleeves, we offer a variety of gloves that can fit your preference and need!

Looking for the classic driving coverage? These are perfect!
For those that want a little more extended coverage:

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Live Wisely Wear to Where

5 Ways to Protect Your Skin From the Sun

It’s no secret that the most effective protection against the sun is the protection that you wear.

Ever heard of sunscreen? Of course you have. It’s been around for nearly 90 years. It’s a good form of protection from the sun, but there is one catch to its effectiveness – It must be reapplied every two hours. Sunscreen paired with other forms of protection works wonders, but alone it’s just not enough. For that reason, you won’t find any products with SPF in our top 5.

UPF 50+ clothing and accessories, on the other hand, provide the most effective form of sun protection because there not as much of a commitment as sunscreen ends up being, won’t wash off due to water or sweat, and always applies to UVB and UVA rays.

Still trying to figure out the difference between UPF and SPF? Check out our blog on it.

Follow these 5 tips to protect your skin from the sun’s rays.

1. Wear a wide-brimmed hat

Choose a hat with a 3-inch or greater brim to protect your face, scalp, ears and neck.

Coolibar Choice:

2. Switch Out Everyday Favorites

Swap everyday favorites for long sleeve UPF 50+ shirts.

Derm Choice:

3. Add UPF 50+ Coverage

Add coverage to short sleeves when lounging outdoors or performing workouts.

Derm Choice:

4. Protect Over-Exposed Hands

Keep a spare pair of UPF 50+ gloves in your car to protect your hands.

Derm Choice:

5. Use Sun Blankets for On-the-Go

Pack a UPF 50+ sun blanket for handy sun protection when you’re out and about.

Derm Choice:

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