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.
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.