By Nate Mackinnon, Contributor
Every year, men around the world come together in an expression of solidarity by growing out the hair on their upper lip. The mustache, also known as a “mo”, typically a staple of decades past, is now the worldwide symbol for men’s health thanks to the organization called “Movember”. Movember has taken over the month formerly known as November, by encouraging the sprouting of mustaches across the globe to raise both money and awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
I am proud to be growing my mustache for the second year in a row. Movember’s goal is to “Change the face of men’s health” by attacking these two horrific cancers with money for research and educating men on early detection. The organization was started in 2003 in Australia. Movember is now operating in 21 countries. In 2012, the charity had 1.1 million mustaches grown which collectively raised $147 million across the globe.
Men participating in Movember agree to start clean shaven on November 1st and then grow just a mustache (not a beard, not a goatee) for the entire month. Yes- it feels awkward and I look silly right now, but that’s irrelevant when you consider why I and the other Movember participants do this.
The data around these two cancers is astounding. According to their website, 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. And in just the United States, approximately 8,000 men between the ages of 15 and 35 will be diagnosed with testicular cancer this year.
Like most cancers, the best survival rates occur with early detection. But as obvious as that may sound, convincing men to go to the doctor and conduct self-examinations is rarely as easy as it sounds. Movember works to educate men and their families across the globe on the importance of getting checked for these far too common cancers.
My grandfather, who passed away last year during Movember, had prostate cancer. And the brother of one of my closest friends was diagnosed with testicular cancer at age 31. He’s now been cancer free for 2 years. I grow this mustache for them and ask people to support the cause for the men in your lives. Regardless of how much money Movember participants raise this month, the increased awareness about men’s health make the entire effort highly rewarding.
In a more local flavor, there is also a group of HKS students growing Mustaches and raising money for local homeless shelters throughout November. Called HKStache, while not part of the international Movember effort, last year raised $20,000 for two local homeless charities, an issue that disproportionately effects men.
So throughout the month of “Movember” please have patience with those of us trying to grow mustaches. Talk to us about why we do it and the issues effecting men’s health. And most importantly, please give what you can. Every dollar raised is dollar closer to finding a cure.
Movember Website: www.movember.org
Nate Mackinnon is Mid-Career MPA Student who was born and raised in the metro Boston area.