3 ways to avoid skin cancer this summer

As published on Kitchener Today

You can protect yourself from the harmful effects of heat and ultraviolet radiation – including skin cancer. Health Canada has tips on being proactive this summer.

1. Choose the right sunscreen

• Use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with a Sun Protection Factor (SPF) of 30 or higher.

• Look for “water resistant” or “sport” on the sunscreen label. “Water resistant” or “sport” sunscreens have been formulated to stay on better if you are in the water or sweating. These sunscreen products still need to be reapplied after you get out of the water or after sweating heavily.

• Look for lip balms with SPF.

2. Proper use of sunscreen

• Sunscreen should be applied at least 15 minutes before going outside and at least every 2 hours while you are outside. Apply it generously to any areas that are not covered by clothing, a hat, or sunglasses. Don’t forget your ears, the backs of your hands, and your scalp, if you have very short hair or are bald.

• Use sunscreen when UV index is 3 or higher (usually April to September).

• To get the full benefit from your sunscreen, it is important to use the recommended amount. For example, an adult should use about 7 teaspoons (35mL) of sunscreen to cover all areas of exposed skin (1 teaspoon for each arm, 1 teaspoon for each leg, 1 teaspoon for your front, 1 teaspoon for your back, and 1 teaspoon for your face and neck).

• Sunscreen and insect repellents can be used safely together. Apply the sunscreen first, wait 20 minutes, then the insect repellent.

3. Practice moderation

• The sun’s UV rays are strongest between 11 am and 3 pm – be mindful of your time outdoors during these hours.

• Wear a hat, sunglasses, protective clothing

• Find shade

• Protect yourself and your family even on cloudy days and in the winter, since snow is also a strong reflector of UV rays

• Keep babies out of the sun and heat as much as possible. They are much more sensitive to the sun than adults. If you are outside, keep your baby in the shade whenever possible and have them wear wide-brimmed sun hats, and light, loose-fitting clothing that covers their skin. Ask your health professional about using sunscreens on babies who are under 6 months old.

Sunburn Treatment

• Cool shower or cold compress

• Aloe gel

• Drink fluids

• ibuprofen or acetaminophen for pain

Skin Cancer in Waterloo Region

According to A Population Health Status Report 2014, Melanoma was the sixth leading cancer diagnosed in Waterloo Region from 1986 to 2009. Incidence rates in both Waterloo Region and Ontario showed a steady increase during this period, with rates in Waterloo Region slightly higher than those in Ontario. Melanoma is most frequently found on men’s backs and on women’s backs and legs. It is the least common, but most serious, type of skin cancer. The mortality rate remained below 4.0 deaths per 100,000 people, with rates consistently higher among males than females. Skin cancer usually appears in adulthood, but can be caused by excessive sun exposure and sunburns in childhood. You can help prevent skin cancer by protecting your skin and your children’s skin from the harmful rays of the sun.

Waterloo Region Public Health and Emergency Services General Inquiries: 519-575-4400

How to spring clean your life

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

Spring has become synonymous with words like detox and clean. We burst open the windows, on the first mild day, scrubbing away the layers of darkness, isolation and contagious illnesses. Annihilating cobwebs, and celebrating the longer days ahead, we plant seeds that become new blooms. Yet, often we overlook the importance of weeding, and feeding, the garden of life.

The season of rebirth and renewal, spring, presents an opportunity to take a look at our relationships and personal habits and reassess their relevance to our wellbeing.

Local Life Coach and Nutritionist, Kate Kahvo says, “self-care is one of the first things to go in our lives and one of the most important, essential things we need.” Kahvo is an online coach working to help clients “rediscover themselves, build confidence and find a simpler more joyful life. We do this by addressing mindset, finding clarity on our values and priorities, and minimizing stress, overwhelm and guilt.”

So, you’re convinced it’s time for a life detox, but where do you start?

  • Social media: recreating a positive digital imprint can be time-consuming, but worth it. Here’s a unique opportunity to reinvent yourself. Start by going through your friends list. You can categorize friends as acquaintances, meaning you will see less of them, and remove those you no longer wish to follow. Unlike pages you have lost interest in and remove permissions for games and apps you don’t use. You may also want to consider removing tags, photos and posts that aren’t part of your new, improved, image.
  • Health: a great place to start is the medicine cabinet, take a few minutes to look for expired medication. You can learn more about safe disposal, in Canada, here. Health trends are a dime a dozen but if you’re looking for something unique (and impossible to fail at) try Shinrin-yoku, otherwise known as ‘forest therapy’ or ‘forest bathing.’ Shinrin-yoku derives from the Japanese culture, whose traditions include cohabitating harmoniously with nature. To enhance physiological and psychological wellbeing, all you have to do is visit a forest, and soak in the sights, smells, and sounds.
  • Friends/Family:  belonging to a community is proven to improve cognitive function, but it might be a good time to reconsider the old mantra; ‘friends close, enemies closer.’ For family, blood may be thicker than water, but sometimes it ok to dilute the source of undue agony. Toxic relationships are bad for our health, leading to higher stress levels and unhealthy habits. Breaking up with a frenemy won’t be easy, prepare yourself by focusing on the friends and activities that will help you move on, and give yourself time to grieve.

“The action, motivation and courage it takes to get there can be the challenge. Trust in yourself, be kind, show compassion and take that step forward. These are really some of the most impactful ways to start feeling more calm, confident and clear headed about your future.”

 Kahvo suggests following five steps to “clean your mindset:”

1. Become aware of the negative default thoughts you are having

2. Replace them with more positive language

3. Slow down and take time out to find clarity on what is currently happening

4. Move out of habitual living and into doing things with intention

5. Have courage

“When we take a step back and sit quietly, it allows us to gain clarity on what is currently going well and what isn’t.” Kahvo offers 1:1 coaching as well as a supportive and informative online community called True You. Her March challenge focuses on spring cleaning for our mindset.

Local non-profit, Lost Paws Inc., helps lost pets find their way home

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

It’s 4:00 a.m. on a Friday morning, a day most of us celebrate the end of a long work-week. For Lost Paws Inc., the end of the week signals a different type of beginning, without rest or monetary reward. While social media feeds overflow with TGIF memes, LPI algorithms fill with photos of missing pets, sightings and directions to ‘not call out.’

Another pet has gone astray, faced with honing their domesticated instincts against the perils that call local forests home. Volunteers, with careers in differing professions, will join in one mission – the business of tracking vanished pets.

The search commences with a frantic phone call, social post or referral. They will begin this journey as strangers, and swiftly become lifelines, bound by one commonality– a desire to bring this pet home. For Barb and Chris Hobden, founders of LPI, a passion project would quickly become a selfless second career.

Their experience tells them that fearful animals travel in shadows. Like the script of a Hollywood movie, they trade sleep for night vision equipment. Sightings send the family on an emotional thrill-ride, while LPI stays focused on logistics. Years of experience has taught them to think like an animal in fear. When this pet grows tired of running – driven by thirst, and hunger, LPI will anticipate their arrival, with sensory traps.

The organization was launched in October, 2016 “after witnessing firsthand, the impact that a lost pet can have on their owners and the frustration and confusion faced by their families during the search.”

Alicia Fleet and boyfriend Alex Choiniere, witnessed the work of LPI when their dog Leo went missing from a Kingston kennel on New Year’s Eve. After two weeks of searching, with hundreds of volunteers, they called LPI. The crew, who all work out of Waterloo Region, took their gear to Kingston and joined the search. They traced Leo to an abandoned barn, where they set up a trap. When Leo showed up, they called his owners. “They spent hours out there just walking around,” said Alicia. “It’s just, he wouldn’t be here right now if it wasn’t for Lost Paws.

Their advice for those whose pets go missing? Never give up the search. “We see between one to five reports of missing pets every day,” says co-founder Barb Hobden.  “Engagement levels can vary. Sometimes our involvement is getting a poster setup and shared. We could be guiding and coaching via phone and social media to the family. Sometimes we are out for hours searching surrounding terrain.”

So, how much does a search and rescue mission cost?

You can’t put a monetary value on the services they provide, and LPI hasn’t. Everything they do is free of charge. The team who searches “before work, after work, sometimes on their lunch breaks” are funded by donations.

The rescue organization consists of 4 directors, and 3 response and social media leads. “They do everything they can to ensure the safe return of pets,” says Chrissy Bowles, President and Founder of Miss Dixie’s Food and Supply Bank for Rescues – who has also worked alongside LPI.

A group of approximately 30 volunteers help in their dedicated area’s – Kitchener/Waterloo, Cambridge, Stratford/St Mary’s/Mitchell and Woodstock. Barb says, “no matter if it is a lost/found or spotted pet our volunteers are spending time helping.”

What should we do if our pet is lost?

Contact your local Humane Society and file a lost pet report then reach out to the federally registered non-profit community organization and response team at www.lostpawsinc.ca

The bright side of the saddest day of the year; Blue Monday

It turns out the saddest day of the year’s humble beginnings were a publicity stunt, released as part of a press release for a British travel company. The man behind the formula, Dr Cliff Arnall, created the concept 14 years ago for Sky Travel.

Written for and published by Kitchener Today

January, the most underappreciated month of the year. Known as one of the longest, coldest months, it also finds itself typecast as the unhappiest. Nestled between World Religion Day and National Hug Day, you’ll find Blue Monday.

Happy Coffee

The theory behind Blue Monday suggests that the third Monday in January takes Mondays to a whole new level. This year, the ‘saddest day of the year’ falls on January 21.

What is Blue Monday and where did this unofficial day of sadness originate?

There is an actual mathematical calculation that predicts when it occurs. One of the components of the calculation includes the timing of when Christmas bills will begin to arrive. Couple this with our unmet expectations of cold-turkey resolutions, lack of daylight hours and a return to the daily grind, and we have ourselves a formula for the blues.

There are days dedicated to hats, sandwiches, and bubble wrap so why shouldn’t sadness get one too? While Blue Monday has no actual scientific backing, we choose not to fact check the equation, burying our vitamin D deficient selves under a blanket of self-fulfilling misery.

It turns out the saddest day of the year’s humble beginnings were a publicity stunt, released as part of a press release for a British travel company. The man behind the formula, Dr Cliff Arnall, created the concept 14 years ago for Sky Travel.

 “The formula uses many factors, including weather conditions, debt level (the difference between debt accumulated and our ability to pay), time since Christmas, time since failing our new year’s resolutions, low motivational levels and feeling of a need to take action.”

The first Blue Monday was January 24, 2005. Not everyone embraced the idea, in fact, neuroscientists have described the calculation as pseudoscience; meaning while it claims to be scientific it’s never actually been proven factual.

In his defence, Arnall has said he identified the date “in a bid to encourage people, where possible, to take a positive outlook on the time of year as an opportunity for new beginnings and change.” Although labeling a day as the ‘saddest’ seems like a setup to be, well, sad. The alternative could be to find solace in the fact that if Blue Monday is indeed the saddest day of the year – every day afterwards must be inherently happier.

While we can’t control weather patterns, or the sun, we can face one of the components of the equation head on. Martha Adams, Certified Financial Planner with Tier One Investments says we should start by creating a plan that makes us feel like we are being proactive. When it comes to paying off holiday debts she suggests “starting with paying down/off the highest interest rate first and considering consolidating high interest rate into lower interest rate debt if you have availability. For example, if you have a credit card with 29% debt and a Line of Credit with available room and an interest rate of 7% you can utilize the lower interest rate to gain more traction from your payments. That means paying off your debt quicker and feeling like you’re accomplishing more than just interest payments in the process.”

The bright side to the sadness equation is we’re heading towards the happiest day of the year. According to Arnall’s calculations that day can be found on July 15, based on weather, extended daylight hours and reduced traffic – thanks to school vacation. If that feels too far off; the international day of happiness, which also happens to be the first day of spring, is March 20.

What is PR Anyway?

If PR was described using an emotion it would be empathy. Reputation, like trust, is earned and can easily be lost. A PR professional is there to help you define your demographic, understand their needs and build a relationship that mutually benefits both parties.

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Defining public relations.

The simplest way to define public relations is – the relationship between an organization and its publics. Publics can be defined as employees, clients, shareholders and the surrounding community.

PR is about building relationships. It’s a give and take between two parties while maintaining two-way communication.

If PR was described using an emotion it would be empathy. Reputation, like trust, is earned and can easily be lost. A PR professional is there to help you define your demographic, understand their needs and build a relationship that mutually benefits both parties.

No spin. No lies. No facades.

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Who needs PR?

  • Talent
  • Businesses
  • Charities/Nonprofit Organizations
  • Public figures
  • Hospitals
  • Cities
  • Everyone who has an audience, client, employee, community or following.

What does a PR professional do?

Quite simply we are expert communicators. Our avenues of communication include social media, media relations, internal and external speaking engagements, multimedia, events, blogs, and publications.

PR is strategic, persuasive and motivated. We are storytellers, self-producing content that encourages engagement and promotes a positive reputation.