Two PGA Professionals are raising the awareness of skin cancer having both being diagnosed with the disease last summer.
West Midlands-based pro Jamie Cundy and Buckinghamshire pro Andrew Simmonds, who by coincidence both coached at last year’s R&A Swingzone at the Open, have both undergone surgery to remove the cancer.
Cundy, 42, has undergone two operations on his left arm, following concerns over a mole, while Simmonds, who is only 27, had surgery to remove moles from his back having initially gone to the doctors with a chest infection.
Following their experiences, both are keen to ensure that their fellow PGA Professionals – as well as others working outdoors – are aware of ways to avoid heightening the risk of skin cancer.
Cundy, who has recently been appointed the head professional at Dudley Golf Club, is at the forefront of raising awareness as he is working with Macmillan and cancer specialists at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham on a publicity campaign.
He added: "They think it is through the fact I’m a golf pro and spent 20 plus years being outside teaching without any sun protection on, which I generally don’t. I’ll only put suncream when I am on holiday.
"I’ve never heard of another pro getting skin cancer and I wouldn’t have thought people have thought about the risks. There’s an ‘I’ll be alright’ about it all atttitude because it’s not like we’re sunbathing.
"I’ve spoken to a few pros and most I don’t think put any sun protection on. The problem is we have six months of winter and as soon as the sun comes out we’re all desperate to get out there.”
Having been alerted to the dangers Cundy had no hesitation in being part of a campaign for Macmillan and the hospital.
"I’m fair and obviously a higher risk, but even in darker skinned people it’s becoming almost an epidemic say the consultants,” he said.
"They are completely flat out with people with different forms of skin cancer. On the back of my diagnosis Macmillan and the QE want to raise awareness of skin cancer with people working outside in the sun – not just sport but any industry."They will be doing leaflets and posters with me. I’m completely new to being ill and I said I am more than willing to raise awareness about the risks of skin cancer.”
South Buckinghamshire golf pro Simmonds (above right), who is also fair skinned, was diagnosed in July. It came just a matter of weeks after he had taken part in the longest day golf challenge – raising £3,000 for Macmillan.
Like Cundy, he was oblivious to the dangers and given his age wants to ensure that skin cancer is not dismissed among younger professionals.
"I’m always outside given my role and protecting yourself is not something talked about,” he said.
"I didn’t wear sun cream but I wore a shirt, however the rays can still penetrate.
"Being told you have cancer can be a shock but I’m quite level headed and carried on as normal going through the process.
"But for me it’s telling my mates and ensuring they get themselves checked and that goes for all of my fellow golf professionals.
"I’m always outside and protecting yourself against the sun is not something talked about or thought about and can be a bit of a taboo subject.
"I want to make sure that there is more awareness and that pros are being more careful and taking the right precautions when it comes to working in the sun.”