The following is a press release from the Montana Farm Bureau Federation:
Shirley Rolf noticed a spot above her eyebrow in 1996. “It was just after my father died of esophagus cancer. I found the spot above my eyebrow, and my mother urged me to go to the doctor,” says Rolf. The Miles City rancher grew up on a ranch, riding horses and doing ranch work, always without sunscreen or a hat.
“I got it checked and it was skin cancer,” explains Rolf, a member of the Custer-Fallon County Farm Bureau. “I was referred to a doctor in Billings who did the surgery, and he said I had caught it early so it did no damage. Then I had another spot appear above my eyebrow, which I had surgery on, and about seven years later a spot appeared on the tip of my ear.” “Here I am in my mid-fifties, and skin cancer is haunting me,” she said. She points out that not only is the fear of finding more skin cancer always present, insurance becomes extremely expensive, if not impossible to get, once you’ve had skin cancer.
Rolf urges farmers and ranchers, who spend most of their lives outdoors, to use sunscreen, wear long sleeves and a hat, and above all, keep a close watch on your skin, and get any suspicious spots promptly checked by a doctor.
Gene Surber, contracted with Montana Farm Bureau behalf of Montana Ag Safety Program, explains his 90-year-old father-in-law has been dealing with skin cancer for more than 10 years. “He farmed at a time when tractors didn’t have any cabs or covers. He was out in the blazing sun all day, every day,” Surber says. “He has had many surgeries on his nose and ears, and has to go every four months for check-ups. If you don’t use sun protection, the effects of that intense exposure will deform your body.”
To encourage sun safety awareness and remind everyone to protect their skin while outdoors, the National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention has declared May 25 as “Don’t Fry Day.”
According to the Skin Cancer Foundation, outdoor workers experience twice the amount of non-melanoma skin cancers (basal cell carcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas) compared to those who work indoors. The American Cancer Society estimates that one American dies every hour from skin cancer. This year alone, ACS estimates there will be more than 76,250 new cases of malignant melanoma, the most serious form of skin cancer, and more than two million new cases of basal cell and squamous cell skin cancers in the U.S. Fortunately, skin cancer is highly curable if found early and can be prevented.
Surber encourages farmers and ranchers to always use sunscreen and wear protective clothing such as hats with brims and long sleeves, and take extra measure especially near water or snow. “It’s recommended to seek shade between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., but sometimes that isn’t possible for people working the land,” Surber says. To minimize the harmful effects of excessive and unprotected sun exposure, protection from intense UV radiation should be a life-long practice for everyone, and sunglasses are important, too.
The best way to detect skin cancer early is to examine your skin regularly for changes in moles and skin growths and schedule a visit with your doctor if you notice any change.
Source: Montana Farm Bureau Federation
Posted by Haylie Shipp