One young Florida entrepreneur is making a big difference not only by offering practical products for a group of underserved consumers who needed sun protection, but she’s also creating a network of melanoma advocates, raising awareness about the disease and its prevention.
According to the Melanoma International Foundation more than 1 million new cases of skin cancer are diagnosed each year, outnumbering the total number of other cancers combined. Melanoma, the most deadly form of skin cancer, is steadily on the rise. In fact there has been a 2,000 percent increase in incidences since 1930. Early detection and prevention are key to slowing this trend.
The Business Observer tells Stefani Schuetz’s story. She was a 25-year-old triathlete when she was diagnosed with melanoma. She had been training in the sun in a sports bra without sunscreen. “I didn’t know it was going to be threatening my life,” she told the news source.
Once she realized the importance of sun protection, she changed her routine and wardrobe to match recommendations, avoiding sun exposure as much as possible and wearing protective clothing, layering items she owned. However, the layered clothing was hot, uncomfortable, and impractical, the triathlete discovered.
Schuetz researched and found that the options of sun protective apparel for women involved in high-performance sports like running, biking and swimming were very limited, so she decided to create her own brand, which she named Tri Sirena. In the past two years she’s learned everything from how to run a business to how to design clothes. In April 2017, all her hard work paid off with the successful launch of a line of pretty performance wear apparel. The line features SPF 50 sun protection that stays in the fabric for 90 washes.
Sun protection and raising melanoma awareness are priorities for Schuetz. She has developed a team of female athletes from around the world who she calls Siren Luminaries who wear her clothing as they participate in a vast variety of sports. They spread the company’s message about skin cancer awareness and sun safety while enjoying outdoor activities through not only their own good example, but through social media and community activities.
Some of these ambassadors, like Schuetz, are skin cancer survivors. Hawaiian luminary Lynsey Capone-Smith, a melanoma survivor, wrote Schuetz, telling her Tri Sirena gear was exactly what she needed. “Without it, I would not be doing triathlons,” she said. “I would not be my healthy, active self.”
Schuetz plans to launch new designs in 2018 as well as perhaps adding products for a general outdoor athlete brand that is appropriate for sports other than swimming, biking and running. She plans to expand her product line beyond women to serve children and men as well.
Men could certainly benefit from the products she is offering. In fact, men are at higher risk of developing melanoma than women.
According to Melanoma International Foundation “an estimated 44,250 new cases of invasive melanoma in men and 32,000 in women will be diagnosed in the U.S. in 2012.” Based on the National Cancer Institute’s most recent statistics from its Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results (SEER) Program, for approximately every one woman who dies of melanoma, two men die, with a 1.7 to 4.1 ratio.
Another factor possibly increasing some men’s risk is the use of erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra and Cialis. Both are PDE5 inhibitors, which have been found by studies to encourage melanoma growth and have been linked to increased risk of developing melanoma.
Melanoma International Foundation
The Business Observer
National Cancer Institute