My name is Heather Wilks.
I am an active 72 year old wife, mother of 3 children (1 deceased), and grandmother of 3. I am also a retired operating room registered nurse. I became ill at the age of 30, in the 1970’s with fatigue, joint pain, fever, and a painful raised rash on my legs.
After a year plus of blood work, x-rays, and finally a biopsy of the leg rash it was confirmed that I had systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE). Many treatments and medication were tried, eventually Plaquenil (Hydroxychloroquine) was prescribed. It helped and continues to help calm the lupus. Osteo, rheumatoid, and Sjögren’s syndrome round out my other health concerns.
I remain active even though I had a total hip last year and will have a total knee this year. The other hip and knee will follow. I am a member of a Fitness Team (I lead a free weights class 2 times a week) at South Gate, a membership based recreation centre for adults 50 +. To help my joints I also lead a range of motion class at a therapeutic pool 2X a week year around. In the good weather I golf 1 - 2 times a week, play shuffle board, bridge, euchre, and pepper.
In my youth I was a blonde, fair skinned person who covered up when outside. Occasionally red skin, but no blisters. When we were at the beach, towels, hat, umbrella, and sunscreen were required items.
Following the diagnosis of SLE, I started looking for other options for sun protection in Canada, and there were not many options in the 70’s and 80’s. Eventually I came across “Sun Veil”, a sun protection covering consisting of a jacket, pants, and hat. The material is thin, but was uncomfortable to wear in the humid weather and did work at protecting your skin.
In the 2000’s I found the internet and the sun protection clothing choices by Solbari. The fact that you can wear just the top and pants without a covering makes activities much more comfortable. This allows me to play golf freely, and without special coverage. The hat is beautiful, light, and covers my head, face, ears, and neck. At present I have 2 tops, hat, and sun shawl.
I also wear 50+ sun screen and makeup everyday. In 2016 I had microscopic surgery by Dr. Christian Murray at the Mosh Clinic, Women’s College Hospital in Toronto Ontario Canada, for a recurrent lower lip cancer. It started as a small pin point basal cell cancer and ended up as squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). I lost 2 mm of my lower lip, am cancer free and can still whistle.
I am very appreciative of the sun protection clothing choices by Solbari, making outdoor activities comfortable and safer. It is my intention to purchase other items.
Thank you Heather for helping raise awareness for skin cancer, melanoma and skin conditions, and sharing your story with us and our Solbari Community.
The Solbari Team
Over the coming weeks, we will be publishing some stories from the Solbari Community to help raise awareness about skin cancer, melanoma, skin conditions and sun protection.
If you are interested in sharing your story, please answer the following questions from the relevant questionnaire and send us a picture of yourself being sun safe in the outdoors.
Your skin is your largest organ and has a long memory. Sun exposure and ultraviolet (UV) damage is cumulative throughout your life. Research shows that sun damage contributes to more than 90% of wrinkles, brown spots, premature skin ageing as well as precancerous and cancerous skin lesions.
Limiting sun exposure is very important, as the UV rays cause the most damage to the skin. It often takes many years and sometimes decades for the effects to become visible.