Inspiration from Meghan

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So you grew a moustache. What else?


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It’s fun for men to have an excuse to kick it Tom Selick / 70’s porn style and play with their facial hair come this fine month we now know as Movember.

Raising money for what we believe in makes us feel good. When we raise money for a disease that we’re afraid of, also makes us feel like we’re part of the solution- which in turn, also makes us feel good.

But what does this actually do?

Similar to how pink ribbon campaigns seems to offer breast cancer  a sisterhood, Movember offers moustache growing dudes a brotherhood.

It is tough to get men to talk about their health and Movember has done an outstanding job of opening that dialogue and offering support and resources.

The challenge is that the moustache has become to prostate cancer, what the pink ribbon is to breast cancer.

Pink washing is rampant, where a pink ribbon is added to everything from cars to cookies to carcinogen-containing, lead-laden lipstick in the name of a cure.  Women raise money, dress up like bubble gum and walk for days while chugging back hormone-disrupting BPA water from plastic bottles– in the hopes that they will help make a difference in the cause.

Mo-washing is quickly catching up- as images of moustaches are appearing on everything from coffee mugs to ties and Food Truck parties, where owners donate 10% of earnings on poutine and pulled pork in the name of prostate cancer awareness- all while donning a super hipster handlebar moustache.

A greater focus every Movember seems to be on what shape and style the moustache is going to be- and less on the lifestyle changes men are making for this month to see what a month is like, not just being aware that prostate cancer exists, but actually taking an active role in the long term health of the prostate.

The prostate is not located under the nose. Growing a moustache may raise awareness but it won’t make you immune to prostate cancer and as long as the search continues, we need a better back up plan in place.

We believe that research is the answer but for most cancer organizations, only 2-5% of resources are actually going into research on preventable causes (diet, lifestyle, environmental toxins). What is being researched are diagnosis strategies, essentially what happens once you are diagnosed.

At the end of the day, when you were given news that you have cancer, no matter how early it has been caught- you still have cancer. At that moment, I can guarantee you would have liked to know what you could have done to help prevent it.

So you grew a moustache. What else? (Tweet to share!)

In the last 70 years, very little has changed in terms of cancer treatment options and so the fundraising continues to find this elusive cure and money is continually thrown into the pot.

Individuals can celebrate what they have raised, and organizations can tally up the total for bragging rights- but what have been the results of our investment? The Susan G. Komen foundation has raised over 1.2 billion in 30 years but the treatment options for people with breast cancer have remained the same for nearly 70. What has been the outcome of those massive investments? That one drug company comes out with a drug that prolongs the lifespan for another three weeks, all while cancer rates only continue to rise?

Supporting disease awareness is vitally important. Being part of a moustache growing community seems empowering- it helps us feel like we are doing something to protect us from the scary unknowns of cancer that have touched our moms and dads, brothers and sisters. It helps us to feel a part of the solution and to honour those we loved and whom we have lost to these diseases.

But what else are we doing to ensure that we aren’t the one in eight women diagnosed with breast cancer? Or one of the 73 Canadian men diagnosed daily with prostate cancer?

You’re growing a moustache. You’re raising money. Great. But what are you doing to take an active role to prevent cancer in your life and those you love most? Eating a pulled pork sandwich and a side of poutine with $1.75 of the purchase going to prostate cancer research isn’t going to save your ass- literally.

So you grew a moustache. What else? (Tweet to share!)

12 responses to “So you grew a moustache. What else?”

  1. Erica says:

    Amen sistah!

    Tell it like it freakin’ is. Bad enough the pink ribbon crap got out on us but now this on the dudes…. It annoys me almost as much as that naked run they do every year for cancers below the belt. People are just participating because it’s funny or cool, without actually making any lifestyle changes, and drinking their BPA water as you say….. Sigh.

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Thanks for the cheerleading Erica- as always. Much needed on days like today when the hate also comes flying in from many directions.

  2. Rebecca Tracey says:

    Yeppers. I’ve always cringed at pink ribbons and mustaches, and always look forward to your posts about why these campaigns are ridiculous. Keep it comin’ lady! xo

  3. Chris says:

    Nice message, but what is it that people should do then besides growing a mustache? Maybe you could have educated them on how to prevent prostate cancer and what to do once you have it?

    • Meghan Telpner says:

      Hi Chris- a post is coming on that subject soon. Thanks for asking. In the meantime- check out the link up there on the right to categories and select disease prevention- I’m sure you’ll find a few helpful tips to get started.

  4. Sara says:

    Thank you for bringing to light a subject and topic that many feel but are too afraid to mention, in fear of being targeted as not supportive or “against” finding a cure for cancer. Awareness IS important – but so are outcomes and an actual change in the number of people dying and being affected by cancer. There needs to be a happy middle and lifestyle changes need to become the focus of these campaigns rather than a pink ribbon or a mustache.

    A wonderfully thought-provoking post- so glad you went there!

  5. Melissa Ramos says:

    Hey there, amazing article showing the good and bad behind this campaign. Unfortunately, I agree, you’re right, much of the issue gets overshadowed by the propaganda that we forget not so much what we’re fighting for but how to do it.

    Your article provides an amazing insight and a fresh perspective that’s much needed.

    Well done lovely.



  6. Chris (Another one) says:

    Hi Meghan,

    It’s clear with you’re very passionate about the importance of lifestyle as a factor for morbidity and mortality and i couldn’t agree more. I myself am a Chair for Movember, and I have to say i whole heartedly agree with you comments about environmental toxin research, and I personally will be bringing that to those leading the Global action plan. I think you’ve made a strong comparison to the pink ribbon which is valid from a culture perspective, however beyond that it’s quite the contrary. Movember has a 6% overhead which is above and beyond any other fundraising body of it’s scale and more importantly operates a global research collaborative, untouched by industry, which requires all academic researchers to release the rights to their data in order to prevent duplication, and amplify research results. I myself have spent time learning how this is done very closely. If you have seen the film pink ribbon inc. which I hope you have because it reaffirms everything you’re saying, one of the voices against the brand discusses how research should be conducted for breast cancer, they are describing how movember does do research. I understand not all the information is available in such detail on the page, but i do want you to know that one of my roles as a Chair for the campaign is to actually speak to people like your food truck and ask them to NOT use Movember to promote an unhealthy livestyle. Instead I would suggest they promote a special salad, or green rice bowl special for the month. Movember has also arranged free fitness classes for participants in most major cities across the country again to promote a healthy lifestyle. If you have the name and location of the food truck you mention, which I will assume is in Toronto, I will contact my counterparts there and have them address this promotion immediately.

    In reading the other comments I’m really looking forward to your post on healthy prostate tips and Prostate cancer management tips, and I’d actually love to share it through social media.

    The other element of the campaign now is a focus on male mental health, which is incredibly stigmatized and affect more men that prostate cancer. This is where the awareness and conversation that the silly moustache on my face can actually make a difference, a “Hey, how you doing do you know about Movember” actually has a direct impact on mental health which could be the one thing that day that made that man’s day, and he decided that he wouldn’t be one of the men who are 4 times more likely than women to commit suicide. I’m not naive enough to think this scenario would ever be real but the conversation does have a positive impact on mental health.

    Thanks so much for writing this Meghan, I love the passion and it’s clear your other readers do too. I’d love to talk if you have more questions.

    Looking forward to the next post

  7. Cancer Prevention: Where Your Moustache Ends and Health Begins says:

    […] So You Grew a Moustache. What Else?  […]

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