July 15, 2019Diet and Your Skin

We Tried It: Heliocare Advanced

For this We Tried It feature, I reached out to two incredibly brave, beautiful, and talented women, who have become dear friends of mine. There is no question that skin cancer is on the rise, but statistics only mean so much out of a real life context. The reality is that skin cancer can impact young, otherwise very healthy women with busy, thriving professional lives and families, when they least expect it. Debbie and Stefanie both share their stories below:

Debbie Doniger: Professional Golfer, Master Instructor On-Air personality, Named 2015 Most Beautiful Woman in Golf by Golf Magazine, Wife, Mom, Skin Cancer Survivor

Debbie’s Story:

My passion for golf started at the age of seven. I was always playing outside as a kid and I began playing golf seriously at age twelve without a sun hat, sunglasses, a visor, or even sunblock. It was the 1980s and sun protection was not at the forefront of most people’s minds at that time.

I enjoyed my playing career through junior golf, college golf at UNC and then professionally on the European Tour. Of course, golf is played outdoors and sun protection was not a priority in my mind at that time.

Reality struck when, in my early 20s, I noticed a discoloration/birthmark-looking shape on the side of my cheek, that turned out to be a squamous cell skin cancer. I had to have Mohs surgery to address this skin cancer.

I transitioned from playing golf to teaching golf in the mid-90s and I become more and more aware of the importance of sun protection, especially based upon my experience. However, there was a lot of damage that later surfaced.

Specifically, since I started seeing Dr. Bowe as a patient, we found three more Basal cells, which required extensive MOHS surgery (which was performed by Dr. Disa and Dr. Nehal). I was fortunate enough to have caught all of these skin cancers early enough to fully recover.

Skin cancer does not run in my family and yet, I have already had four skin cancers discovered and treated, beginning in my early 20s. I cannot stress enough how important sun protection is and that is why I wanted to share my story with you.

Why I protect my skin by taking Heliocare Advanced:

Given my experiences with skin cancer, I want to be as proactive as possible when it comes to sun protection. Of course, I wear top performing sunscreen, a broad-rimmed hat, and sun protective, UPF fabric during summer to protect my skin from sun damage. Several years ago, Dr. Bowe introduced me to Heliocare, which she explained is a proven way to protect my skin from sun damage from the inside-out. It has over 80 peer reviewed articles/studies behind it, so it is proven to have a real impact on your skin’s health. When Heliocare Advanced with nicotinamide became available, I was very excited to try it. I now take this supplement every day. I have never had one side effect and it gives me the peace of mind that I am doing everything possible to protect my skin from any further skin cancers! I do notice a healthier glow, and more even skin tone as well. And while I am thankful for the positive side effects, internally, it truly gives me peace of mind while I work.

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Stefanie Weiss: Founder of AskStefanie, Fox News Contributor, Parent Coach, Radio Host, Wife, Mom, Skin Cancer Survivor

Stefanie’s Story:

At 41 years old with a 16, 14, and 11 year old, I was a busy mom.  Always running around with my kids barely making time to worry about myself. Who has time to think about yourself when you are making sure your family is taken care of?  I wasn’t a worrier, or a negative thinker, rather a glass half full kind of gal. That is, until I had this “thing” I couldn’t seem to get rid of on my nose. My husband had noticed that I had been treating myself with Bacitracin earlier in the day and in the car later on, I had remarked that it was bleeding AGAIN! “You really should have that looked at by the dermatologist,” he said.

Hmmm, let’s see, between ACT tutors, dance carpool, and basketball I figured I could probably fit it in soon. I had a fleeting thought that my grandfather, who had a melanoma on the left side of his nose had sadly waited way too long as his cancer had spread to his lungs and all over his body.

On May 4th 2017 I had biopsy on my nose.  I went to see my dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, to have her take a look at the small scab on the left side of my nostril that I had assumed was nothing more than a scratch or possibly an irritation from a Biore strip I had used awhile back. The look on Dr. Bowe’s face after hearing my details and examining the scab was a look of concern. I could tell in that moment that this may be “something”.  Dr. Bowe biopsied the area and told me I would hear within 2 weeks time, but that she expected it may be skin cancer.  About 5 days later, she called to ask me if I was alone and if I was sitting down.  I grabbed a piece of paper and scribbled the news of my biopsy. Basal cell with a possible overlay of squamous cell carcinoma that needed to be taken care of with Mohs surgery as soon as possible.

I quickly scrambled to call our close friend who is a hand surgeon who recommended I see Dr. Ariel Ostad. His office was amazing and fit me in right away that Monday morning. Sunday was my sons 16th birthday and Mother’s Day so we kept the positivity flowing and tried not to think about what this sudden surgery on middle of my face would be like.  I figured I would be out of commission for a few days with a small bandaid on my nose. I had seen a friend after having Mohs surgery and it seemed rather minimal.  The day of the surgery, I went in kind of in the dark.  My scab seemed very small so I figured we would be there for maybe two hours and be on my way.

The surgery was much more complicated than I anticipated, to be perfectly honest. I was told there was a possibility they may need to take skin from the back of my neck to put on my nose. That was terrifying.  Ultimately they did not need to go that route, as he took the skin from the middle of my eye brow and moved it down to the bottom of my left nostril.

I was in agony the night after surgery. The next morning would be the worst part.  I woke up to a face that looked like a monster. I could barely open my eye, my face was swollen and black and blue and I had about 56 stitches running down the middle of my face. Changing my bandage and cleaning the bloody stitches was excruciating and emotionally horrific. This was not what I expected.  It turned out my skin cancer was much larger and deeper than expected so my Mohs surgery was significant. My parents had to fly in to help take care of my kids, my friends were an incredible support system, and my doctors and nurse sent me scar tips, and healing techniques throughout the week.

Finally, about a year later, I felt like myself again. Yes, of course I see and examine my scar in the rearview and makeup magnifying mirror daily, but there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t feel grateful I went for that biopsy that ultimately saved me.  I tell myself that faint scar I see down my nose is there to remind me and everyone I love to PUT SUNSCREEN ON every single day!!

One year later to the day I posted my gruesome picture of my scar on social media. I warned my family I would be sharing it the night before and finally showed my kids what it looked like before I showed the picture for the world to see.  My teenage daughter (used to getting constant speeches about sharing on social media) said to me, “Mom are you sure you want to share this, everyone you know will see it”. I told her, “I hope they do!” I thought it was the best parenting lesson I could give to share that in today’s world people often post a contrived “perfect” version of themselves tricking the world into believing in perfectionism, ESPECIALLY teenagers!

My message to my kids and the rest of the world, was to say this can happen to anyone, any age and it happened to me, BUT its preventable!  Knowledge is power.

Why I protect my skin by taking Heliocare Advanced: This health scare was more than enough to inspire me to take the most proactive approach to sun protection within my power. Dr. Bowe and I discussed all of the most proven, powerful options available from both a topical and nutritional perspective. I love her whole-body, integrative approach to dermatology and to sun protection, specifically. Heliocare has such a proven safety and efficacy record that I felt very comfortable taking it. I have had zero adverse side effects or issues on Heliocare and it is very empowering to know that I am protecting my skin from sun damage from the inside-out in addition to all of the usual protective methods – sunscreen, sun glasses. As Dr. Bowe always tells me, sunscreen is NOT enough to fully protect your skin from sun damage! So, when Heliocare Advanced recently became available, I could not wait to try it and to incorporate it into my daily routine. My experience with Heliocare Advanced has been a very positive one. I now take Heliocare Advanced in the morning with coffee and then go work out with zero side effects or aftertaste! Spreading the word about sun protection and skin cancer is incredibly important to me, so being involved in this We Tried It Feature to help educate others who could find themselves in my position was an opportunity I could not pass up!

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I hope these women have inspired you as much as they inspire me on a daily basis! They are so strong, filled with courage, and beautiful inside and out. I am so grateful that they came forward to share their stories – please read more about Heliocare and Heliocare Advanced here to learn more about how you can protect your skin from the inside out.