Men and Their Moustaches

Movember is here. With it, simultaneous cries of joy and lament (from guys and their partners, respectively) echo across Canada, and a legion of men begin cultivating the most infamous of all facial hair configurations: the straight-up moustache. For many (university students, I’m looking at you) this is an exercise in looking ridiculous for a month just because they can. But the fun of letting one’s Mo grow is only the surface layer, behind which a serious cause lies.

I’d urge you to check out the Movember Canada website, which has some great information about their mission and the rationale for going about their fundraising in such a unique way. Additionally, you’ll find some sobering facts about men’s health, such as:

  • Men are more often diagnosed with cancer and have a higher death rate from cancer
  • 70 men will be diagnosed with a type of cancer every day
  • 1 in 7 men will develop prostate cancer
  • Suicide completion is 4 times more common in men

There are a lot of complex reasons behind the differences in how men and women deal with health issues, ranging from the systemic, societal and institutional (think machismo and the social structures that uphold it) to the personal (fear, indifference or just plain laziness). Whatever the cause, the right response is increasing awareness of men’s health issues and challenging some of the stigmas around them.

Let’s face it: we’ve all been affected by serious health issues in some way. Cancer is probably the best example of this. I believe I lost three out of four grandparents to cancer, the most recent (and emotionally laden) being my Gedo (that’s Ukrainian for grandfather) a few years ago. He was the one in seven mentioned above who developed and ultimately succumbed to prostate cancer.

These things tend to arise with age and in some manner of speaking are relatively accepted. However, no age group is really safe. Just this year, one of my sister’s best friends was diagnosed with a very serious bone cancer and given a heart-wrenchingly bleak prognosis, and she’s in her early 20s. That’s the kind of thing that shakes you to the core, turns your world upside down. It’s just not supposed to happen. Then you hear about how brave and positive the afflicted person is being, and it’s one of the most uplifting things you can hear. Surely, if they can face something so serious with their chin held high, you can do the same with the trivial day-to-day challenges you face.

It’s my hope that, while growing the best moustache I can, I’ll be able to raise some money this month, motivated by my sister’s friend and the others in my life who fell victim to cancer. I will also be addressing some personal health issues that I’ve been putting off for a long time, including (embarrassingly) not having a family doctor 6 years after moving away from my old one.

I sincerely urge you, readers, to do the same—if you can, try growing a moustache of your own and see if you can raise some money for awareness and research programs. If that’s not an option, donate to support someone else’s Movember fundraising efforts. At the very least, consider something that you can do for your own health.

I am accepting donations (and Mo compliments) at my own Movember profile here:

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