Jim and I were fellow restaurant managers at a large restaurant chain here in St. Louis. At one time, we decided to start a part-time business together. We sat around one night at a pizza joint and talked about what we could do to make some money.
We must have been gluttons for punishment because we both already worked about 60-hours-a-week. We still had two days off, so we decided to keep one for ourselves and make as much money as possible on the other day.
We decided that we had a better chance doing something extra for the company we already worked for rather than going out and working somewhere else. Jim had worked in landscaping when he was growing up because his father worked taking care of a cemetery. Jim told me he had access to “a fleet of lawnmowers.” This turned out to be not quite true.
So we decided to go into the grass cutting business. We would call ourselves “Grasshopper Lawn.” In the lawn care business, grasshoppers were the small-time guys that hopped from lawn to lawn. We were definitely that.
We had both experienced the shabby work and overpaid prices of the so-called professionals, so we went to the bosses and offered extra services and reduced prices if we could get a few lawn accounts. We got fifteen stores to do out of the 52. That was about all that we could handle.
We cut lawns all hours of the day and night, including during thunderstorms and when it rained. Sometimes we almost passed out in that hot summer heat of St. Louis. While I slathered on the sunscreen, Jim, whom I affectionately called “beach boy” used a tan intensifier called “Banana Boat.” The package said that it had thousands of little prisms magnifying the sun’s effect on your skin to make you tan faster.
I warned Jim that if he kept using that stuff, he’d get skin cancer. But he told me that bronze, beach boy look made him popular with the ladies. We did the lawn business for a total of eight years. During the last couple of years, Jim started to get damage to his skin. He started breaking out in Keloids. These were large patches of scar tissue that looked almost like he had been burned. Actually he had been.
According to Medical News Today:
“Non-melanoma skin cancer cells appear to thrive on ultraviolet light because it boosts an essential DNA repair enzyme that helps them stay alive and multiply, according to a new study from the US that revealed yet another way that cancer cells exploit natural cell functions.”
This kind of less-deadly skin cancer forms in a different type of skin cell than the deadly melanoma type of cancer. Cancers are just cells that go awry, but they still need the same nutrition that the regular cells need. The skin cells are constantly replacing themselves and can become cancerous even if you wear clothing in the summer.
The body even repairs skin cells whose DNA is badly damaged, so they are not removed by the immune system. This makes them more likely to become cancerous. In Jim’s case the damaged cells became scar tissue instead of cancer. But not everyone is so lucky.