Heather's Hangout

Sharing the people, places & little moments that make a difference.

5 tips for sun protection July 18, 2017

Filed under: Cancer Tips — Heather @ 8:45 am
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HH_hike

Wear a hat to protect your face!

We’re in the midst of summer when most of us are outdoors a lot more often. Enjoying beaches, biking, hiking, pool time, baseball, golf, picnics and many other outdoor activities. Exposing us to the sun’s rays.

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As much as we should enjoy the outdoors and sunshine, the scary reality is that skin cancer rates have been increasing for the past 30 years. The American Cancer Society estimates more than 87,000 new melanoma cases will be diagnosed in 2017 and about 9,730 people are expected to die from this cancer. Any change in color to your skin is damage to the skin. So a base tan or light tan or whatever you call it really isn’t a ‘good tan.’ There is no such thing as a good tan.

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I head to the dermatologist today for my 3-month melanoma check. My melanoma was discovered more than 10 years ago so I had graduated to 6-month checks. Until my body tried to misbehave and a recent biopsy came back borderline bad. So I’m back to seeing my doctor every three months for a bit. That’s okay. I like my doctor, and I figure there’s nothing wrong with being careful and catching any potential problems early.

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I am surprised by the number of people who still don’t wear sunscreen, and lay out in the sun to tan (I am that person who freaks when I see a change in my pale white skin!). Or the parents who are great about slathering sunscreen on their children but not themselves.

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Here are some easy ways that I protect myself from the sun (and still enjoy being outdoors in the sun!):

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Hat: I admit I used to be kind of bad about wearing a hat, even though it’s the perfect way to protect your face and scalp. People may think I don’t want to ruin my hair (ha) but I admit that ever since chemo, when I wore a hat often to protect my bald head, I don’t love wearing one. However, I purchased a few baseball and cute straw hats that I’ve been wearing more often. Like I said, it’s such an easy way to protect your face’s skin and your scalp, especially if you’re outside for long periods of time.

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sunscreen

There’s a sunscreen for everyone!

Sunscreen: There are SO many varieties of sunscreen on the market. The most important aspect is ensuring the sunscreen protects against both UVA and UVB. Most of the sunscreen is available in dry touch so no excuses that sunscreen makes you feel greasy. I know a lot of people like the spray bottles so you don’t have to get your hands ‘dirty’ but keep in mind that the spray might distribute unevenly so I recommend either spraying a lot or still rubbing in to ensure full coverage. Use a minimum of SPF 30 and don’t forget to reapply! My doctor provided some good recommendations for my sensitive skin a few years ago and she’s still my go to for answers and references (and sometimes samples!). I’ve already used two bottles of sunscreen this season! I wear a minimum of SPF 55 and own a variety of bottles sizes so I can carry in a bag, purse, cycling jersey, backpack, wherever.

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Sun sleeves/shirts/clothing: Great clothing options are now available with SPF and UV protection, and lightweight enough to wear during warm weather. I have a few long sleeve shirts I wear while hiking that blocks the sun, yet is cool enough during activities. I also purchased sun sleeves to wear cycling. These white sleeves slide up my arm to cover me from shoulder to wrist. And don’t forget sunglasses to protect your eyes.

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Supplements/skin care: My doctor recommended I take a supplement that helps repair and protect skin (talk to your doctor before taking any supplements). I also use a night cream to repair any damaged skin (and helps with anti-aging! Yep, you’re learning my secrets). My morning moisturizer has sunscreen in it so I’m protected when I walk out the door.

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Skin checks: I mentioned that I see my dermatologist every three months for a skin check. This is due to my health history so probably not necessary for most people. However, everyone should have a skin check at least annually. Your primary care doctor can do this, or schedule an appointment with a dermatologist. If you have a family history of melanoma, I definitely recommend annual checks (talk to your doctor if you need something different/more often). Of course, if you see anything suspicious looking (changes to moles or skin), call immediately.

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These are tips that work for me to protect my skin while I’m staying busy outdoors. Talk to your doctor about what works for you and other options to safely enjoy the sun and outdoors. As with anything, remember you are your own advocate. I pointed out a mole that looked like it was changing shape and color to my dermatologist years ago. He didn’t agree but a month later, I returned with the same concern so he removed the mole. Turned out to be early stage melanoma, which was treated with additional surgery. I admit I switched doctors at that point, to someone who had more time and a better strategy to follow my health. But I’m thankful I listened to my instinct to pursue my concern. So pay attention to your body, protect yourself from the sun while enjoying life, and be safe!

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Summer pasta, bacon and vegetable salad September 7, 2016

Filed under: do it yourself — Heather @ 4:00 pm
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pastasaladThe humidity finally slid out of Michigan, leaving wonderfully warm, yet relaxing weather. Despite the pumpkin seasoning and haunted houses appearing in retailers, it’s still the summer season so I’m still enjoying all things summertime! This means that I am not ready to turn the hot oven on to cook. I shared in a recent blog that I’m trying to make myself prep meals more often so I dug through some favorite recipes again.

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This easy summer pasta salad came from a Kroger mailer! I’ve tweaked it a bit to add some variety for my taste. It’s such a simple, yet tasty salad that you can really make it any way that suits you.

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Here are the ingredients for this yummy salad:

  • Cooked pasta (I use approximately 6-8 oz uncooked)
  • 1-2 cups chopped romaine lettuce (you can also use spinach)
  • 1 cup sliced grape tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup bacon bits
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Dressing:

  • 1 Tablespoon dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup olive oil (sometimes I use flavored olive oil, like basil)
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Once the pasta is cooked, run under cold water to cool. Mix all ingredients together. Add the dressing – I add a little at a time, then toss the ingredients to determine if I need more dressing. You can also optionally add salt, pepper and seasonings to taste.

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To make this a heartier meal, I’ve added diced cooked chicken, fresh cut broccoli and cucumbers. I also switch up my pasta, at times using wheat, veggie or gluten-free pasta. It’s really an open recipe based on your palate!

 

Free or low cost activities keep summer fun July 25, 2014

Filed under: Random Travels & Exploring — Heather @ 5:20 pm
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The kids & I love exploring the world outside.

The kids & I love exploring the world outside.

I’m always tempted to close my eyes when I see back to school supplies filling store shelves in July. And plug my ears when I hear people talking about fall activities. It’s only July and I’m milking every minute of our short Michigan summer weather! Besides there are still lots of activities I want to cram in before the cool weather arrives. The best part is my “to do” list is packed with activities that are free or low-cost and promise to be lots of fun.

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Take a walk through the ground of local cultural areas such as Cranbrook, Henry Ford Estate, Greenfield Village and others.

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Visit local parks for picnics, swimming, hiking and more. Many of these parks have a great nature centers, including Stony Creek Metropark, Kensington Metropark, Madison Heights nature center and the environmental center at Indian Springs.

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Ride a bike! There are some great trails through parks but it’s also fun to bike through your neighborhood or a new place. Downtown Detroit has created some interesting bike trails through urban areas that provide a glimpse at great architecture and history.

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Read! Visit your library to discover exciting adventures in fiction books or learn about something or someone new in a nonfiction work. I love sitting on my deck or spreading a blanket on the lawn to read a book (I can’t remember the last time I purchased a book. I check out books from my library or via the Overdrive library app on my Kindle).

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Buy local and fresh at one of the many farmer’s market in southeastern Michigan. From Eastern Market in Detroit to your community farmer’s market, there are many choices to buy local fresh fruit, vegetables, flowers, honey, bread and more. Yum!

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Take up geocaching to go on an urban scavenger hunt  or wander through nature with GPS. I’ve discovered some new places by geocaching in cities I’ve never been or don’t know very well. Geocaching with friends makes for an adventure!

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HHcanoePick up a paddle. There are several places to rent canoes and kayaks in southeast Michigan. Looking for something really cool? Check out the full moon paddles that run out of Heavner Canoes (at Proud Lake State Park). It’s peaceful to paddle down the river in the dark, guided only by the light of the full moon.

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Hang out with friends – away from technology, which means no social media or smartphones on the table. I’m growing weary from always seeing people’s eyes on their phones or tablets rather than the person in front of them. It’s sad to see relationships fading because people would rather text or message via Facebook instead of spending quality in person time with friend and family. I certainly engage in my share of texting, social media, and emails but I try to balance that by scheduling plenty of face to face time (not to be confused with Facetime technology!) with the people I enjoy.

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Have some backyard fun! Run through the sprinkler, have a water balloon toss, play catch or baseball, set up an obstacle course or play tag. These are not just for kids – trust me, adults sometimes have more fun than the kids!

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What fun activities are helping you celebrate summer?

 

Summer fun in Michigan June 8, 2012

Filed under: Life Lessons,Random Travels & Exploring — Heather @ 5:43 pm
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Awe, summertime. Sunshine, warm temps, barbecues, swimming. A great time of year in Michigan. It’s also a time of year that makes me feel a bit overwhelmed (in a good way!) – because there is SO much fun available, and frankly not enough time to do it all!

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Where do you begin making plans? Do you like land, water, walking, riding? So many options. I’ll share some of my favorite activities to get your plans moving.

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I feel if you live in metro Detroit, you must visit the Detroit Zoo at least once during summer. Who doesn’t love lions, giraffes, kangaroos and gorillas? New additions include a baby camel and otters (so cute!). Starting July 4 – August 29, the zoo hosts their Wild Summer Nights Concert Series every Wednesday evening. If you’re interested in exploring the 125-acres sans children check out the Zoomance events on July 12 and August 23 from 6-9pm. We attended this 21-years and older event last summer and had a blast. There are adult drinks, music, food and a quieter, calmer atmosphere.

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Greenfield Village takes visitors back in time where you can tour a working farm, homes of famous people in history, lessons in the development of electricity, railroads, the printing press and more. Greenfield Village hosts the popular Salute to America (tickets sell out fast) near Independence Day, as well as many other summer fun events.

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Definitely don’t miss an opportunity to be physical while having fun! I’ve written about the fabulous Macomb Orchard Trail and I certainly plan to log many miles on my bike there this summer (also great for walking). Think also of hiking sand dunes, nature trails and through local parks. Heck, I love walking or biking around my neighborhood on a quiet weekend morning or evening. Justin and I often enjoy the nice weather with a walk to our local Starbucks (hey, it’s exercise and an opportunity to each other’s company!).

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Michigan has many amazing beaches to play on. Conde Nast Traveler even named Oval Beach in Saugatuck as one of the 25 ‘best shorelines’ in the United States. Big beaches, such as those in Traverse City, Saugatuck and Silver Lake are gorgeous and usually busy during the summer months so think of checking out local sand too – my family likes to visit Stony Creek Metropark and Spencer Lake.

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I like to canoe, especially on calm waters where I can enjoy the sounds of nature and the company of my canoe partner. If you want a cool experience, go on a moonlight canoe paddle. Locally, Heavner Canoe & Kayak Rental offers opportunities to enjoy a canoe (or kayak) paddle almost every full moon. You launch at dusk from Proud Lake Recreation Area in Milford. You paddle the Huron River and return via a full moon. It’s awesome, peaceful and quite a sensory experience.

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There are so many fun activities you can experience through Michigan and beyond. Many of these are low cost options available for singles, groups, families, couples, everyone.

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What are some of your summer fun plans? Favorite places to play? No matter what you choose this summer, remember to get moving, have fun and WEAR SUNSCREEN!

 

 
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