Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Sunscreen Review: Supergoop Setting Mist with Rosemary, SPF 50

If you're like me, you're religious about applying sunscreen in the morning but loath to reapply on top of your makeup. What to do? Finally, the beauty product industry has developed a broad spectrum sunscreen that can be applied on top of your foundation and face powder. Two new SPF-infused setting mists became available this spring from sunscreen brands Supergoop and Coola. Sephora stocks a mini bottle of the Supergoop version, so I decided to give it a try before committing to a full-sized bottle of either. 

The basics: $12 for 1 oz. or $28 for 3.4 oz. at supergoop.com, sephora.com, etc.

Pros: I've taken the purse-sized bottle with me to work every day and given my skin a quick spray before heading outside for lunch or leaving my office for the day. It's lightweight and easy to apply. Smells a bit like sunscreen, but also a bit like rosemary, so the sunscreen scent isn't unbearable. It doesn't make my face shiny or do anything weird to my makeup, so it's perfect for mid-day touchups.

Cons: As with any spray-on sunscreen, it's hard to know if you've applied enough or missed a spot. It can also make the hair around your face sticky if you're not careful, so spray with caution or cover your hairline before spraying.

The verdict: I'm absolutely planning to purchase more of this when I run out. It's the perfect size to keep in my purse, and I've used it almost daily since I bought it. Some reviewers on Sephora.com have complained about stickiness or stinging, but I haven't had any real issues with it. Will keep you posted as I continue using it!

Have you tried any of the new facial sunscreen mists yet?

Monday, June 22, 2015

Inspiration board: Under the sea baby shower

This summer, my brother and his wife are expecting their first baby. My studio apartment is much too small to entertain, so I love an opportunity to help plan a party at someone else's home. Our "party planning committee" includes the mom-to-be's mother, her mother-in-law, her sister, her best friend, and me. We're having the shower at my mom's house, but I know she's super busy teaching summer school (and replacing her deck!), so I've been helping with invites and getting everyone set up and organized.

Because I coordinate events for a living, I've learned that it's crucial to get all helpers on the same page early on--whether you're planning an intimate baby shower or a large-scale fundraiser. I love getting everyone together for an in-person meeting, but if that's not feasible, a group email, Facebook message, or text message can suffice.

For my sister-in-law's shower, her friend suggested an "Under the Sea" theme, which I love for baby boy. We set up a group message, created a shared to-do list in Google Drive, and I began Pinteresting like crazy!

Somewhat serendipitously, last week Paperless Post invited me to participate in a link-up about summertime entertaining. Paperless Post is a website that provides both virtual and printed invitations and other stationary. I've used them in the past for smaller get togethers (like my friend's bachelorette party), but hadn't thought to use them for this event. The designers at Paperless Post will choose a handful of blogger-inspired themes to turn into real invitations for their site. "Under the Sea" seems like a relatively common party theme, but my mom and I had a heck of a time finding an invitation that we both liked. I hope they consider turning my inspiration board into an invite on their site!

Here are a few of my favorites from the inspiration board:

Under the Sea Water Party via catchmyparty.com.

Rubber Ducky Baby Shower via catchmyparty.com.

Under the Sea Soiree via projectnursery.com.

Crab sandwiches via allthatglittersisgold.net.

Fishie crackers via thecottagemama.com.

Under the sea party decor via chickabug.com.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The wanderlust: Australia

The beach where we went snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef.

The day before I flew to Australia, I went to happy hour with a couple of friends who spent the entire time trying to convince me I was going to be (a) bitten by a poisonous spider, (b) stung by a box jellyfish, (c) eaten by a shark, or (d) bulldozed by a 6-foot-tall kangaroo. I'm disappointed to report that I didn't see a single dangerous monster my entire two weeks abroad, unless you count Australia's merciless sun.

While Australia is known for some of the highest skin cancer rates in the world, they've also become a leader in melanoma prevention, banning indoor tanning beds and encouraging sun safety in schools. As someone who has been very active in advocating for melanoma prevention here in the states, I've often looked to Australia for inspiration.

The purpose of my trip was pleasure, not business, so I ended up doing more sightseeing than research. But I'm pleased to report that I survived two weeks sans sunburn, thanks to SPF 50 and some of my favorite UV-protective hats and scarves.

I hope you'll enjoy some of the photos from my trip below. I think it's important to acknowledge that, even though I've been impacted by skin cancer, I won't let that scare me from snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef or taking a walking tour through the rainforest. Nature is gorgeous and I feel blessed to be able to experience as much of it as I possibly can. Here's to checking another box off my bucket list.

My bestie from college and host while I was visiting Australia.
Koala! Hands down, absolute highlight of my trip.
Opera House.
Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The Whitsunday Islands from above.
The Twelve Apostles. Photo doesn't do it justice - it was stunning!
More from the Great Ocean Road.

Practicing safe sun in Australia.

Street art in Melbourne.
Aussie Rules Footy game.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Getting survivors involved in the design of melanoma research: Our PCORI project advances to Tier 2

Great news to share! The project I've been working on in collaboration with Oregon Health & Science University and SolSurvivors has been selected to advance to Tier 2 of PCORI's Pipeline to Proposals Program. Tier 2 awards provide up to $25,000 to help recipients strengthen community partnerships, develop research capacity, and hone a comparative effectiveness question that could become the basis of a large-scale research project.

Pipeline to Proposal Awards enable individuals and groups that are not typically involved in research (like me!) to develop the means to produce community-led funding proposals focused on patient-centered comparative effectiveness research. In 2014, I was part of the inaugural Tier 1 cohort of this program.

Our project, "Developing Infrastructure for Patient-Centered Melanoma Research," aims to involve patients and other critical stakeholders in the development of strategies for preventing and detecting melanoma at an earlier stage, thereby decreasing death rates. When melanomas are detected early, patients have a 98% five year survival rate, but if the cancer has spead to the lymph nodes and other parts of the body, survival rates drop to a mere 16%*. Because of its origins in the skin—where doctors and patients can see it—melanoma should be one of the most easily recognized and detectable of all cancers. Unfortunately, barriers still exist to early detection of melanoma. During Tier 1, we learned that many patients don’t know what to look for when conducting a skin self-exam. Other barriers to early detection and treatment may include a lack of knowledge that melanoma can be life-threatening, poor/no insurance coverage, lack of transportation/distance to a provider, and treatment by a doctor that lacked expertise in melanoma.

During Tier 1, we began building an “army” of volunteers to attack melanoma prevention from new angles and perspectives. Our greatest accomplishment during the nine-month award period was to support the launch of the Melanoma Community Registry at Oregon Health & Science University. As of January 2015, the Melanoma Community Registry had 2,374 patients, 446 family members of patients, and 146 friends of patients signed up. As director of the project, I contributed by participating in brainstorming meetings, drafting text for recruitment materials, reviewing informed consent language, appearing in TV and newspaper articles promoting the registry, promoting the registry at community events such as the Portland Melanoma Walk, as well as cost-sharing IT development.

In this next phase, we plan to build upon the progress we made in Tier 1, with the ultimate goal of working toward a large-scale research study in collaboration with researchers at OHSU. Specifically, we plan to use surveys and focus groups to identify issues that are the most crucial to melanoma patients and those who care for them. We are also continuing to develop our network and would love to meet others with an interest in contributing to this effort. Want to get involved? Send me a note at info@solsurvivorsusa.org.

View this video to learn more:

PCORI is an independent, non-profit organization authorized by Congress in 2010 to fund comparative effectiveness research that will provide patients, their caregivers, and clinicians with the evidence needed to make better-informed health and healthcare decisions. PCORI is committed to seeking input from a broad range of stakeholders to guide its work.

*National Cancer Institute SEER

So, I'm in a long-distance relationship

Me and Tim before he moved to SF earlier this year.

Three years ago, when I first started dating Tim, my biggest fear was that I'd fall for him and then he'd leave. Not long before we met, he had moved to Portland to be a supply chain analyst for a large tech company. Much like I was in my early 20s, he was uber-ambitious and willing to relocate just about anywhere if the job was right. Surprisingly, he stuck around for a while--or at least long enough to become an integral part of my day-to-day life. Imagine my chagrin when he came to me last April and told me he'd been offered the opportunity to move to San Francisco ($#&@!^#@#$).

He asked what I thought he should do. Take the job. Duh. It's a fantastic career move, I told him. Plus, he had no reason to stay here except for... er... me. My Portland roots, unlike his, are deep. I knew that pursuing this promotion would make him happy, so I chose to support it 100 percent.

He accepted the job, but then weeks turned into months and the move itself kept getting postponed. While I'm not one to complain, the planner in me kept wondering when he was actually going to leave.

If you're like me, you often take more pleasure or pain in the anticipation of an event than the event or situation itself. Not surisingly, I spent much of those nine months freaking out over a situation I had absolutely no control over, probably to the detriment of that time we did have left together living in the same place.

The two of us at a friend's wedding over the summer.

When he left in late January it was difficult but not unbearable. I spent 12+ hours helping him sort, fold clothes, and pack up his U-Haul. By the end, we were both a bit delusional, but it was nice to spend those last few hours together. It didn't feel like he was saying goodbye permanently because I knew I'd see him again in less than a month.

In all honesty, those first few weeks sucked. I felt discouraged and completely lost. I found myself googling "how to survive a long-distance relationship" the way I google things like "how long should I boil eggs?" and "how do I contour my cheekbones?" He was the one still living out of a suitcase, what right did I have to be worried about the current state of affairs?

Clearly, it's only March, and I'm sure I've only scratched the surface of how to truly survive a long-distance relationship. I've had more emotional ups and downs in the past eight weeks than I did my junior year of high school, but I'm hopeful and open-minded. Tim will be visiting me once a month, and after I get back from Australia, I plan to do the same. I'm learning how to be patient, how to be more forthcoming about my feelings, and to not take everything so darn seriously.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Oh, the places you'll go

Last week, I was sitting in my office, reading through a proposal for a grant, when I looked up at my calendar and realized it's been exactly five years since I was diagnosed with melanoma. How funny it is to think back five years. In some ways, I feel like I'm the same person, but in so many other ways, I feel like I'm not.

I watched a TED Talk over Christmas break called, "The psychology of your future self." The premise of the talk is that--because we can't imagine where we'll be in the future--we underestimate how much we'll change five, ten, or twenty years down the road.

Here's a snippet:

At every age, from 18 to 68... people vastly underestimated how much change they would experience over the next 10 years... Why does this happen? We're not entirely sure, but it probably has to do with the ease of remembering versus the difficulty of imagining. Most of us can remember who we were 10 years ago, but we find it hard to imagine who we're going to be, and then we mistakenly think that because it's hard to imagine, it's not likely to happen. Sorry, when people say "I can't imagine that," they're usually talking about their own lack of imagination, and not about the unlikelihood of the event that they're describing.
The bottom line is, time is a powerful force. It transforms our preferences. It reshapes our values. It alters our personalities. We seem to appreciate this fact, but only in retrospect. Only when we look backwards do we realize how much change happens in a decade. It's as if, for most of us, the present is a magic time. It's a watershed on the timeline. It's the moment at which we finally become ourselves. Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they're finished. The person you are right now is as transient, as fleeting and as temporary as all the people you've ever been. The one constant in our life is change.

This year, instead of coming up with a traditional New Years Resolution (or in my case, usually about 15), I decided to set one goal: Travel to Australia to visit my good friend from college.

Sounds simple enough, right? Then why have I been putting it off for the past year and a half? Perhaps the thought of spending a whole paycheck on a flight is scary and it's inconceivable for a work-a-holic like me to take 12 days of PTO in one fell swoop. But I'm doing it! I booked my flight over the weekend, and now I have a little less than three months to plan my trip to the other side of the world. I'm giddy with excitement, and yes, a little scared, but I hope that by continuing to push myself a little outside my comfort zone, I'll become an even better version of myself in 2020, 2025, 2030, and beyond.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Be thankful, be happy

Image: Julep Instagram.

Some research suggests that the key to happiness is gratitude, so I'm making a point to try to recognize the people and things I am thankful for--not only on Thanksgiving, but year round. Here are a few of the things in my life I'm grateful for right now:

  • Living so close to my mom.
  • My job.
  • Dark chocolate.
  • My iPhone 6.
  • Friends who are having babies!
  • Weekends with absolutely nothing on the agenda.
  • Exploring new restaurants with Tim.
  • Cabo 2014.
  • Oprah chai tea lattes from Starbucks.
  • My first wine club shipment.
  • My health.
  • New episodes of Homeland.
  • Having a network of friends and family who are supportive of my personal and professional goals.
  • Birchbox. Because is still makes me smile every month.
  • Puppies.
  • My Invisalign treatment is almost done!
  • The never-ending source of entertainment that is my Kindle.

Wishing you a wonderful Thanksgiving with all of your favorite things.