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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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Live Wisely

Hawaii Bans Most Sunscreens. How Do I Cover Up?

It’s no secret that the coral reefs of the world are diminishing. From climate change to overfishing, one of Earth’s strongest ecosystems is being destroyed by countless factors. And just to make matters worse, a recently discovered threat may top the list – sunscreen.

For decades, research has proven the vitalness behind basic sunscreen usage. According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, one in five Americans will develop some form of skin cancer in their lifetime. With that statistic alone, there’s no denying the importance, but what environmental cost are we willing to pay?

Should I Not Use Sunscreen Anymore?

To clarify a bit, not all sunscreens are harmful. The two active ingredients in question, oxybenzone and octinoxate, are the main perpetrators and have been linked directly to increased bleaching, genetic damage to the reefs and it’s marine organisms and ultimately irreversible death to the coral. In fact, Hawaii, one of the world’s most popular tourist areas known for its coral reefs, signed the country’s first bill banning sunscreens containing the two destructive chemicals starting January 1st, 2021. The island’s ground-breaking decision even influenced the Western Pacific nation of Palau to take action and many others are expected to join the movement.

So How Am I to Cover Up?

The bills don’t take effect for a couple years but transitioning now will greatly benefit the coral reefs. Although oxybenzone and octinoxate are two of the most common active ingredients found in sunscreens, there are other ingredients that are dermatologist recommended and considered environmentally safe by researchers.

Dr. Monica Scheel, a board-certified dermatologist in Kona, stated that, “Your best sun protection ingredients are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.” Also, remember when searching to look for products that are “non-nano”, such as Badger, Coola and MDSolarSciences, because nanoparticles can be consumed by the corals and ultimately cause death.

Along with seeking shade whenever possible and limiting sun exposure, choosing UPF 50+ clothing is also a highly recommended move. Dr. Henry W. Lim, the president of the American Academy of Dermatology, considers UPF 50+ clothing just as effective as sunscreen.

For the environmental specialists, it’s simple. Craig Downs, the executive director of the Haereticus Environmental Laboratory that has studied the damage caused by sunscreen on the coral reefs, said, “For women in a bikini, 85% of her body will be covered in sunscreen. She can reduce that by 50% just by wearing a sun shirt.”

Obviously, sunscreen isn’t the only detrimental force attacking the coral reefs of the world, but it is one of the most controllable. That reasoning alone should be more than enough to encourage us all to reevaluate our approach to protecting ourselves in the sun. Together, we can protect the coral reefs.

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Behind The Design Experts Say

UV Rays in the Fall Can Be as Damaging as in the Summer

Leaves turn colors, temperatures start to cool, the sun’s heat wanes, and instinctively we drop our guard and “forget” sunscreen, leave our hats at home and waltz out into the day’s rays utterly unprotected. Is it really necessary to stay vigilant with UV protection? Are we truly risking the sun’s wrath if we sit beachside with our book or enjoy our morning cup of coffee on the terrace? Or is this UV stuff all hype?

The answer is simple and surprising. Yes, it’s necessary to stay vigilant even though it feels cooler outside. Science is very clear that the harshest of rays, UVB (“B” helps you remember for Burning) change in intensity based on the season and the position of the sun. But, UVA rays (emphasis on “A” for “Aging”) remain strong in full force with fearless intensity year-round, regardless of season or the sun’s position. These rays will undermine mind all your protective measures unless you stay on it. In short, UVA rays are incredibly powerful rays that never go away, constantly and cumulatively wreaking havoc with skin health, contributing to skin cancer, vision loss and reducing our immunities. While it may seem excessive to wear UPF 50+ clothing covering arms, faces, and heads in these cool fall days, a simple neighborhood walk, a casual bike ride, a lunch al fresco or a play day at the park adds up to long-term irreversible cellular damage. So, yes, keeping your guard up and staying protected is a year-round gig.

Omnipresent and relentless in their reach, the relatively long-wavelength UVA accounts for approximately 95% of the UV radiation reaching the Earth’s surface and thus our skin. Although UVA is generally far less carcinogenic than UVB radiation, it’s present more abundantly in sunlight than UVB radiation and contributes appreciably to the carcinogenicity of sunlight. UVA penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin where connective tissue and blood vessels are affected. As a result, the skin gradually loses its elasticity and starts to wrinkle. Furthermore, recent studies strongly suggest that it may enhance the development of skin cancers. The mechanisms of this UVA damage are not fully understood, but a popular hypothesis assumes that UVA increases oxidative stress in the cell.

Think of UVA as a sneaky, ill-intentioned ninja, stalking their prey (your skin) and never letting up. They penetrate your car windows, but you don’t see them; they’re invisible. They damage skin, but don’t feel them because they don’t burn. But, within a number of years, you start to see the effects of UVA’s work. Freckles pop up on your chest, wrinkles and brown spots appear, jowls and neck skin droops, collagen and elasticity diminishes. Even more serious concerns occur, like vision issues, eye cataracts, and macular degeneration. Or, most serious of all, cancer happens. While UVA isn’t the primary source of cancer, it is a known contributor. And, the simple and unprotected daily commutes and errands in the car, shuttles of kids to soccer or long walks on a warm fall day accumulate and become irreversible UVA damage.

For nearly 20 years, our focus on protection with UPF 50+ clothing was laser-pointed at people who’ve encountered a real medical concern, like cancer, sun allergies, Lupus, chemo treatment, prescription medications that create sun sensitivity. So our broad-spectrum UV fabrics have been specially developed to authentically protect those in need and attack UVB because of its evil results while also pushing back on UVA rays. With stylish, intelligent clothes that block UVA/UVB, a Coolibar tee-shirt looks and feels like any tee-shirt, and with incredible intent. You’d have no idea our tee was a hard-working UV blocking shirt; it’s as soft as a cotton tee and feels wonderful. This strategy has been essential to many customers, because nearly 70% buy Coolibar because of a medical issue, and they want to avoid visibly publicizing their health situation. So our design philosophy has been to develop highly technical fabrics in elegant, comfortable clothes and swimwear that look great. Candidly, we’ve never talked much about UVA. We’ve always blocked UVA, but we’ve never really emphasized these rays, until now. Today, with a company mission that emphasizes keeping people safe from UV damage, we need to be more assertive about prevention as much as we’ve designed for protection. We want to start younger, get people paying attention to skin health. This commitment is our version of “an apple a day.” What’s our answer to powerful UVA rays this fall? How can you start your prevention regime?

We’ve developed a proprietary year-round fabric derived from the Merino sheep in New Zealand. It’s a fantastic blend, machine washable and super comfortable, and we’re not just saying that because we developed it. The Coolibar Merino Wool is an ultra lightweight, comfy, super breathable UPF 50+ fabric that insulates on chillier days and cools on warmer days, and, equally important, it tells UVA rays to bounce off (putting it politely). It’s light enough for men who fear sweater weather; it travels; it’s a lightweight fabric that’s a heavyweight UV fighter. Tested and endorsed by dermatologists and holds The Skin Cancer Foundation seal of recommendation, our Coolibar Merino Wool blocks 98% of UVA and UVB rays and does it in a collection of fall wraps, pullovers, sporty polos, long cardigan-style sweaters, scarves, designed to cover arms, necks, hands and look perfect for the season. Being based in Minnesota, we revel in all outdoor seasons. Our entire company actively participates in outdoors year-round activities. We wear test our products for technical performance, styling, wear-ability, fit, comfort and durability. If we were pushy and not Minnesota nice, we’d highly suggest you wear a quality, high-end sunscreen, always protect your eyes with the best sunglasses you can buy (please avoid the glasses from the dime store; their lens effectiveness degrades) and wear UPF 50+ clothing that makes hiding from UV rays look and feel good.

 

 

Sources:

http://www.who.int/uv/faq/whatisuv/en/index2.html

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/10907526

 

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Experts Say Live Wisely

How Do You Pick a Dermatologist?

Dr. Cynthia Bailey, Dermatologist practicing at Advanced Skin Care and Dermatology Physicians, provided guidelines to unlock the mystery of selecting the right dermatologist.  After a summer of being outside, fall is a great time for scheduling your annual skin exam.

Way to go! You’ve decided to get your skin checked and now you’re about to embark on the first step in the process: picking a dermatologist. For some it’s a daunting task, for others, it’s simple. But everyone could use some general guidelines to get the most out of your visit and skin exam.

With these suggestions, go forth and choose a dermatologist that fits your needs and leaves you feeling confident in your decision.

  • Focus

Each dermatologist has their own specialty or focus. Keep this in mind while you start your search. If you are someone who only needs a skin exam to screen your skin for skin cancer choose a dermatologist who focuses on what you need.

Many dermatologists have diversified their practice to include cosmetic procedures. Along with cosmetic dermatology, it’s important to remember dermatologists diagnose and treat more than 3,000 diseases of the skin, hair, and nails.  Look for a board-certified dermatologist who specializes in melanoma and skin cancer for your full-body skin exam, also known as the Total Body Skin Exam (TBSE).  Reference the American Academy of Dermatology Skin Exam Module for a comprehensive overview of what to expect during your skin exam (TBSE). If you are not interested in certain types of specialties or procedures make sure you factor that in when you are looking for a dermatologist.

  • Referral

 

Get a little help from your friends. Rather than rely on a Google search, ask members of your community. Find out who they see for their TBSE and ask them to share their experience with you. They might be a helpful resource if you can tell them what you are looking for in your skin exam and future needs.

If one name does not bubble up as a frequent recommendation in your area, use this find a dermatologist resource from the American Academy of Dermatology as a starting point for a skin cancer specialist in your neighborhood. In the search line of this site, enter “skin cancer” for a list of physicians who treat skin cancer near you.  This physician listing will also indicate the doctor’s accepted insurance, as well as hospital affiliations and patient reviews/star ratings if any have been entered.

  • Clarity

When you call to schedule your TBSE, be precise about what you are looking to accomplish during your appointment and that an appropriate visit type and amount of time has been scheduled. Be very clear with the scheduler and ask the right questions to insure you make the most of your exam visit. When you are clear about what you want to get out of a visit it helps the dermatologist focus.  I liken this analogy to that of a chef.  “Dermatologists treat thousands of diseases and generally specialize in just a few.”  When someone is coming in for a TBSE, I know what we are doing during the appointment. If it is vague, your dermatologist may not know what to expect out of the visit.

Here are some key questions to ask:

  1. What types of conditions does the doctor frequently treat?

(You are looking for an expert in finding and treating skin cancers. An emphasis on acne, rashes or esthetics may be considered for a future appointment but keep your skin check appointment focused on early skin cancer detection. Save the rest of your concerns for a return appointment because your time is limited.)

  1. How long will the appointment take?

(The more moles you have the longer the exam may take. The average full body, head-to-toe exam should take about 10 minutes.)

  1. How does the doctor document suspicious “spots,” freckles or moles for their patients? (Some doctors take a photograph or measure the suspicious “spot” and take inventory of any findings in the patient record as baseline reference. This is a good practice to confirm for your visit.)

 

  • Advocacy

 

You are your own best health advocate. Be assertive and make the most of your 10-minute exam because early detection is key.  If you feel the dermatologist is missing the reason for your visit, remind them that you are there for a skin check.

Use these suggestions to schedule your next skin exam. When we think of melanoma prevention, we often think of the usual: using sunscreen, covering up, not burning, avoiding tanning beds, etc. But did you know that finding a suspicious mole or spot and having it checked out by a professional is considered one of the most important steps to preventing melanoma? Detecting melanoma, when it’s early enough to treat, could mean the difference between life and a life-threatening illness.

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Wellness Warriors

What’s Your Ultimate Resort Destination?

Canyon Ranch Tucson - Guest Room

With the launch of our new Resort Collection, we’ve pondered the whole concept of the “resort experience.” Our new collection of colors and prints can help show what we decided. You’ll love the look right away. Once you slip into it, you’ll find it’s also about being comfortable – for wherever you go, whatever you’re doing and whenever you’re doing it.

Traveling to an actual resort is optional, but desirable. In fact, while we were dreaming up our Resort Collection, we dreamed up some of our favorite resort destinations. See if you agree!

Canyon Ranch,Tucson, Arizona

Canyon Ranch Tucson
Courtesy of Canyon Ranch

A unique and original blend of upscale comfort and deep well-being. This place has evolved with the times – once a cattle ranch, then a classic guest ranch, now a fitness spa resort in the beautiful Sonoran Desert. Actually, it’s an all-inclusive health resort and luxury spa. That sounds impressive, and it is; Canyon ranch has been a driving force as the entire concept of a “health resort” has taken off.

Suggested look: Ocean Glimmer Antigua Tunic

Cal-a-Vie Health Spa, Vista, California

Cal a Vie Resort
Courtesy of Cal-a-Vie Health Spa

For all of its hundreds – yes, hundreds – of spa treatments, fitness activities and mind-body-spirit classes, we can’t help but notice how simple and elemental this California health spa resort is. Particularly impressive is that the resort balances this active and/or meditative experience with a passion for fresh, local cuisine. And just for good measure, there’s golf at the resort’s Vista Valley Country Club.

Suggested look: Banded Fitness Tee with Swim Capris

Lake Austin Spa Resort, Austin, Texas

Law
Courtesy of Lake Austin Spa Resort

Everything you could ask for in a wellness retreat: a lake (in this case, Austin Lake) for Paddle Fit, Aqua Zumba or just a mild boat cruise; the Lakehouse Spa with two pools, steam rooms and a café; luxury guest and garden rooms; five course meals and more. Bonus: all of this is surrounded by the incomparable Texas Hill Country.

Suggested look: ZnO Sun Wrap outfit

 

Omni Amelia Island Plantation, Amelia Island, Florida

Amelia Island Plantation Resort
Courtesy of Omni Hotels & Resorts

If you’re thinking about visiting a spa on an island, you’ll find that here. But around it you’ll also discover a world-class resort, and all that that implies: a tiered pool complex including a splash park, a fully-equipped fitness center (think LCD TV screens) and a championship golf course for starters. The resort also provides a variety of ways to explore the island, for you and your whole family.  

Suggested look: Sport Polo with Zip Off Sun Visor

Casa Dorada Los Cabos Resort & Spa, Los Cabos, Mexico

La Casa Dorada Resort Los Cabos
Courtesy of la Casa Dorada Resort

This is a truly impressive getaway that you’ll have almost as much fun telling people about as you will on the actual trip. A highlight is the saltwater spa – if you can tear yourself away from the pools, the four restaurants, the luxurious accommodations and the best swimmable beach in Cabo. This is for the whole family, too – pets included.

Suggested look: Convertible Swim Shirt outfit

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Contests

We’re Giving Away a ZnO Sun Wrap!

Coolibar ZnO Sun Wrap

ENTRIES ARE NOW CLOSED.

Coolibar has the light, comfortable sun protective fabric for any activity, any time of year. So we’re giving away one of our original ZnO Sun Wraps! It features ZnO – our most technically advanced fabric with tiny zinc oxide sun blocking particles permanently embedded into every fiber. It’s cool, soft, comfortable and always UPF 50+!

To Enter:  “Like” our ZnO Sun Wrap giveaway post on our Facebook page, and comment “I want to win ZnO”!

Coolibar ZnO Sun Wrap Giveaway Official Rules: 

Coolibar ZnO Sun Wrap Giveaway is open for entries on Wednesday, September 17, 2014. To enter, you must be 18 years of age or older. Open to residents of the 50 United States and District of Columbia. The winner will receive one (1) Coolibar ZnO Sun Wrap (Product #01263),retail value $59.50. Winner will be chosen at random by Coolibar representatives. Winner will choose the Sun Wrap from available sizes and colors. Comments deemed inappropriate by Coolibar, or not owned by the posting individual, will be deleted and disqualified. No purchase necessary to win. Prize is non-transferable, not returnable and cannot be sold or redeemed for cash. Coolibar, Inc. employees, employee family members and affiliates are not eligible to win. Rules subject to changes at the discretion of Coolibar. Facebook is not affiliated with Coolibar, Inc. or this giveaway. Deadline for entry: Wednesday, September 17, 2014 at 11:59 pm CST.

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Educate Others Events

After 25 Years with Lupus, Still Going Strong

Jan Jundt - Coolibar 5K Lupus Walk

Can there be any disease as grueling and, often, mysterious as lupus?

Certainly not for Jan Jundt, 2014 ambassador for Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, who was diagnosed in 1989. “I thought at the time that it was arthritis,” Jan says. “I was having trouble getting my hands open, and walking stairs. I was really afraid it was arthritis – my family has a long history of arthritis.”

Back then it was very common even for doctors to diagnose lupus as something else, she says, and not just in her home town of Bismarck, North Dakota. “For years lupus was misdiagnosed completely,” says Jan, on the eve of the foundation’s 17th annual Lupus Walk for Hope and 5K Trail Run – Twin Cities.

The Onset

Jan Jundt Coolibar Lupus 5K
Jan Jundt

Jan is married; her husband Dave recently retired from the North Dakota National Guard. Last spring the couple moved to Fargo, ND from Bismarck to be closer to their three grown daughters.

Also: 25 years ago, lupus nearly killed her.

“I thought it was arthritis,” Jan relates. “In a visit to my allergist he said: ‘go see a rheumatologist.’ The look on his face was, ‘you do it now.’” She got an appointment the following week – a miracle in itself. After tests were run, her rheumatologist called to say she had lupus and wanted to visit with her and her husband.  She scheduled a follow-up at the end of the next week.

“And I didn’t make that appointment,” Jan says. “The night before, I crashed. I had complete renal failure. Basically the only things functioning were my heart and my brain. They gave me 24 hours to live.

I don’t remember the next 10 days, and my husband says well, that’s a blessing. You don’t want to know.”

Another time, much more recently, she had another scare. “I had come down with pneumonia. I just thought it was my allergies, and my asthma. We were driving to Minneapolis and I collapsed. That’s the lupus; if you have a weakness in one spot, it just goes for it.”

What’s most striking about this is her positive, enthusiastic tone, even when the subject turns dark. How can you ensure that these frightening episodes do not happen? “You can’t,” she says.

What is Lupus?

If anything about lupus can be simple, here’s the simplest explanation – lupus causes the immune system to malfunction. It mistakenly starts creating auto-antibodies that normally guard the body against bacteria and viruses. Instead, they attack and destroy healthy tissue. This can result in a very wide range of symptoms – pain at the joints, fever, fatigue, headaches and sensitivity to the sun among them.

Lupus Walk for Hope, Plymouth, MN
Lupus Walk for Hope, Plymouth, MN

Like most other people, Jan knew none of this. Following her first harrowing episode, she started researching the disease.

“I could not get any information about lupus,” she says. “Every place I called, I was finding dead ends.”

The one certainty: there were lots of others suffering from lupus, and they likely had no place to go either.

The Support Group

Jan and her husband started a lupus support group 24 years ago in Bismarck, ND. She found a catalyst for it in the Lupus Foundation of Minnesota, which provided the help needed to start the support group.

The group meets the second Thursday of every month. There are about 15 people in the group, Jan says, with a core of about a half dozen. The group first met at night, but switched to mid-days after fatigue became a problem. There are also frequent transportation issues in a community with lots of rural areas; “the community has been very good to us,” she says. “They help whenever they can.”

Team Coolibar at Lupus Walk
Part of Team Coolibar, Sept. 13

Still, the resource has become irreplaceable.  “I have learned the most from those who have lupus,” says Jan. “People come for different reasons. “Some people come when they’re not feeling good, and need some support. Others come when they are feeling good, and just want to be around people.”

Going Strong

Since her move to Fargo, North Dakota last May, Jan can no longer attend the group she started. But it’s still going strong. On Saturday, September 13, she walked along with Coolibar team members as the official ambassador for Lupus Foundation of Minnesota in the  Lupus Walk for Hope and 5K Trail Run – Twin Cities.

“Our goal is to help one person,” she says. “If we can do that, we’ve done our job.”

For information on Coolibar sun protective clothing, visit our site!

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Coolibar Athletes Kaitlyn Price

Pro Golf Dream is on Hold – For Now

Kaitlyn Price - Golf

What does a Coolibar 2014 Sponsored Athlete do when injury temporarily takes her out of the game? Switch sports, of course!

By Kaitlyn Price

Unfortunately, this summer hasn’t gone exactly as planned. As most of you know, injuries are a part of living an active lifestyle. While they never seem to come at a good time, they can, in the long run, make you stronger. This summer has been frustrating to say the least.

It started on a high: graduating college, playing well in my first events, and preparing for Q-school [the annual qualifying tournaments required for membership in pro golf tours such as the LPGA]. But sadly I have sustained a shoulder injury that will keep me from attending Q-school this year. While my dream of playing professionally is on hold for the moment, I am taking this time to rehab my shoulder and get back into fighting shape to give it a whirl again next year.

Since I have been taking a break from playing in tournaments and practicing I have had more time to do some other activities. One of the activities I have taken up is fishing. My brother is an avid fisherman and he takes me out on his boat to fish the Intracoastal Waterway.Kaitlyn Price - fish

Much like golf, fishing takes a lot of patience as well as long periods of time in the sun. The Marina Sun Hat and the Quarter Zip Long Sleeve Fitness Pullover have been great assets to a day on the water. The picture shows a black drum I caught while wearing my Quarter Zip Long Sleeve Fitness Pullover!

Although I was skeptical at first of wearing long sleeves in the summertime, I have been amazed at how well the Coolibar clothing keeps you cool and protects your skin from the sun. Coolibar clothing has definitely enhanced my wardrobe and keeps me looking good while staying cool and protected.

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Coolibar Athletes Valerie Stewart

The Athlete Within

Valerie Stewart - Kayak

By Valerie Stewart

In fourth grade I ruled on the four square court. NO one could knock me out of the server’s square. My family didn’t know and I didn’t receive any blue ribbons, but I knew and it made me feel great.

Thinking back, I realize that I took no specific pleasure in beating the other kids. The payoff was the sense of power that being the best gave me. In an era when parents and teachers didn’t constantly stroke and support children, it was up to us to find a sense of identity and pride. I see now that it was incredibly satisfying to beat all the boys at a time when girls weren’t encouraged to be athletes.

As an adult, what I don’t like about competition is making the other women feel badly when I beat them. What I do like is the sense of power and personal accomplishment that winning gives me. Many athletes say that they are really competing against themselves. Which is why timed competitions are so much more satisfying than judged ones; the former are not subjective, and athletes can accurately measure their own progress.Valerie Blog2 A

I define “athlete” as a person who has decided to commit to a physical activity, while working to improve their skills.  In other words, anyone who chooses to can be an athlete. You may be drawn to a sport, or you may want to try out various activities to find the right fit. Don’t worry about your age or past experience or what you “should” do;  if you don’t enjoy it, you won’t do it.

I joined several kayaking groups last summer as a newbie, and am thrilled to have found another sport that I love. I’ll compete in some casual Class 1-2 kayaking events, but kayaking is primarily my safe and peaceful sport. A chance to discover the rivers, lakes, and bays of Northern California, while meeting lots of men and women over 40 who like to do the same thing. We share the delight of seeing eagles, herons, egrets, osprey, pelicans, geese, seals, otters, sea lions, turtles, even sharks and whales in their natural habitat as we float by. A year ago I didn’t realize that these experiences existed.

When I started snowboarding, I was totally unaware of snowboarding competitions. I hadn’t competed in anything since I was a kid in Horse 4H. But my willingness to try a new sport at an “old” age opened up a whole world of unforeseen experiences. I found myself competing on a national level against other women my age who also loved the sport. I produced two award-winning snowboarding videos, and interviewed pro boarders from around the world as they competed to qualify for snowboarding’s historic entry into the Olympics. I competed alongside Shaun White as he evolved from a promising nine-year-old into a multiple Olympic gold medalist. And I found a sport that expresses exactly who I am.

So be open, and ignore your doubts. And the doubts of others. You never know what life may bring if you’re ready to let it in.


Valerie’s Product Pick:

Valerie Stewart - Coolibar Swim Tights

If you thought you could never swim in public again because of your “imperfect” legs, you were wrong. Coolibar has introduced a new age of swimwear – the Active Swim Tight.  It comes in two styles; with or without an attached skirt.  And it’s offered in three lengths; above the knee, below the knee, and above the ankle. The SUNTECT® fabric is UPF 50+ and resists chlorine and saltwater. I own three of these, and will buy more when they’re offered in more colors.

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