Movember: The Method Behind the Moustache
If you’ve not yet heard of Movember, I’m not sure where you’ve been for the past few years- it’s a fundraising campaign that seems to have taken teams (sporting or otherwise) all over the world by storm in the past decade or so.
In 2003 two men, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery, were going out for a beer in Melbourne, Australia, and got chatting about how the moustache had gone out of fashion. They decided to talk their friends into growing a moustache in an effort to raise awareness and money for men’s health and prostate cancer, inspired by their friend’s mother who was raising money for breast cancer.
They agreed to charge ten dollars each to grow a ‘Mo’, and sent an email around asking their friends to join their efforts. They found 30 men willing to grow moustaches to raise money that month. Those first 30 participants were so enthusiastic about the concept that they decided to formalise it and get all participants growing their moustache for a cause: Movember was then set up as a registered company and a website was created.
After researching men’s health issues, they agreed to support prostate cancer charities. In 2006 the co-founders established an official Australian charity: the Movember Foundation. By 2015 the reach of the Movember foundation had sky-rocketed with 22 countries participating. That year, the Movember Foundation was ranked as 55th in the top 500 NGOs around the world, an incredible feat for a foundation which had its roots in a conversation over a few beers! If only all tipsy conversations ended in such amazing projects. The Movember Foundation are currently the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale.
In 2016, £6.9 million was raised in the UK alone for the Movember foundation. Over the past 14 years, they have raised £490 million for men’s health (further information is available here if you’d like to know more about where the money goes). The money raised goes to various critical areas of concern for men’s health, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. The UK partner programme includes Prostate Cancer UK.
Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in men, and in the UK around 1 in 8 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some stage in their lives. It is most common in men over the age of 50, so if your Dad is getting letters through from the NHS and ignoring them because he doesn’t want to have a slightly embarrassing examination, encourage him to go. It could save his life. By 2030, the Movember Foundation are aiming to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%. In reality, this means half as many men dying from prostate and testicular cancer, half as many men suffering serious side effects as a result of their treatment, and a quarter fewer men dying from suicide.
Prostate Cancer UK is a charity very close to my heart- my Dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2012 and it was the hardest news I’ve ever received. Hearing that my Dad had been living with such a horrible illness for months and was awaiting treatment was difficult to come to terms with, as was the fact that my Mum had been going through this all with him. All the while they were both putting on a brave face every day to make sure my brother and I were not affected by the news until we absolutely had to know about it. The support we received from friends and family at the time was phenomenal and their fundraising efforts that followed were special and important to us as a family.
One thing my Dad asked all his friends to do when he was diagnosed was to go for a check up. This is absolutely essential, as often there are no symptoms until the tumour has grown enough to put pressure on the body. Raising awareness of prostate cancer and men’s health is as important as raising funds, which is one of the reasons Movember is so crucial. Reminding someone to see a doctor if they have any concerns is fundamental to fighting cancer. Catching a tumour early can make a huge difference to the treatment that follows.
My family and I are very fortunate to still have my Dad with us. His tumour was removed successfully by a wonderful team of doctors and nurses in Glasgow, and I am eternally grateful to them for the support they gave my Dad and our family. My Dad goes for check-ups every year which are a constant reminder of how lucky we are to have him here. They also remind us how lucky we are that charities like Movember are raising money to fund research and support for men all over the world suffering from such horrible illnesses.
To all the ‘Mo Bros’ and ‘Mo Sistas’ out there raising money this Movember, I hope your significant other isn’t giving you too much of a hard time for your (potentially hideous) facial hair- the fight you might be having with them about it is nothing compared to the fight the men you are raising money for are going through. If Gilette can get behind the idea of men giving up shaving for a month I’m sure you can too. I look forward to seeing many more moustaches around campus this November and thinking about the wonderful work the Movember Foundation are doing with the money you raise.