Skin cancer is the most preventable form of cancer. You don’t want it and you don’t your employees to suffer it. Do what’s necessary to prevent it.

Dramatically lessening the likelihood of contracting skin cancer is relatively simple: wear clothing that protects the skin from the sun’s ultraviolet rays and use sunscreen while working outside. Wear a hat and other appropriate work clothing. Going hatless and wearing “muscle” shirts and cutoff jeans when working on clients’ properties is not a good idea for a lot of reasons. Yes, many of you wear T-shirts while we’re working in the summer’s heat. If you do, apply (and reapply according to label directions) sunscreen to your exposed skin, including to your ears, neck and arms.

There are three common forms of skin cancer. The most serious is melanoma. It’s the least frequent of the three skin cancers and also the one most likely to metastasize (spread) through your blood and lymph nodes and kill you.

I have experienced the other two common forms of skin cancer, basal cell and squamous cell cancers. On several occasions a dermatologist injected a local anesthetic into the area around the cancer and sliced it away in a jiffy.

On three occasions, however, I underwent Mohs surgery, a surgery to remove cancerous areas on your skin. In Mohs procedures (named after the doctor that perfected it), a surgeon slices away layers of the cancerous area and then biopsies each slice to see if they have removed all of the cancer. If not, then you go under the knife again. Sometimes you spend several hours going back and forth from the surgeon’s chair to the reception area.

My last Mohs surgery, for a patch of skin cancer under my right eye, turned out to be a morning-long procedure with five bouts of slicing. The cancer had spread much farther than the non-healing small sore under my eye had led me to believe.

Even at that I felt fortunate. During the procedure I shared the reception area with a fellow Mohs patient who had, from appearances anyway, lost half of his nose to cancer. I tried not to stare, and I didn’t. No need for that. I got the message with my first glance.

You don’t want skin cancer. Do what you need to do to keep from getting it.

Here are some great sources of information regarding skin cancer and how to avoid it: and

Ron Hall
To comment, contact Ron at [email protected]

Editor-in-Chief Ron Hall with PLANET AEF 2012 Educator of the Year Chris Foley, right.

Youth Will be Served

On April 20, I drove 35 miles from my home to Perrysburg, Ohio, to visit a small group of Owens Community College student volunteers engage in hand-to-hand combat with a badly overgrown patch of buckthorn at a nature preserve. The students, enrolled in the school’s landscape and turf management program, tackled the nasty, hot job armed only with hand tools and a willingness to engage the enemy at close range.

Who says today’s young people are lazy? That they’re soft? That they’re not willing to put in the effort to achieve their goals?

Not me.

I’m more convinced than ever that, given the proper guidance and encouragement, they’ll take our industry to the next level.

I saw that in action on that unusually hot Friday afternoon in late April in Perrysburg as instructors Chris Foley and Matt Ross worked shoulder-to-shoulder with their students and other volunteers in the tangle of brush, buckthorn and poison ivy at the W.W. Knight Nature Preserve.

The two educators lead and instruct by example.

Foley has directed the school’s green industry programs the past 22 years. Recently (and fittingly), the PLANET Academic Excellence Foundation recognized him as its 2012 Outstanding Educator of the Year. Ross, the younger instructor, joined the Owens faculty in 2010.

What I saw at that single PLANET Day of Service Project, and what friend and fellow Turf columnist Rick Cuddihe told me of his experiences at this past March’s PLANET Student Career Days, fills me with confidence about the future of our green industry. (Read Cuddihe’s column on page A8.)

Cuddihe, who has been in the industry for more than 30 years, says he came away from the event overwhelmed by the students’ enthusiasm and the level of technical proficiency they displayed as they competed for honors and recognition.

It’s obvious that educators in charge of the green industry programs at our universities and community colleges are doing a great job inspiring and preparing young people to enter, innovate and succeed.

What I heard from Cuddihe, and what I saw with my own two eyes, convinces me (as if I needed more convincing) that our green industry will continue to expand, diversify and provide ever-more valuable services in beautifying and preserving what’s valuable in our urban environments.