Movember aims to make a difference in men's health
By Courtney Llewellyn, Reminder Assistant Editor
SPRINGFIELD It's time to put away everything pink and focus on growing your best Rollie Fingers homage or support those who are.
Movember (the month formerly known as November) is a moustache growing charity event that takes place each November to raise funds and awareness for men's cancers specifically prostate and testicular cancer.
Why moustaches? Because participants want to change the face of men's health.
This year marks the third annual campaign for Movember and the first for participants Mike Melville and Trey Stubbs, graduate students at Springfield College.
"It's tough at a younger age to pull off a moustache. At 24, I think I can now," Melville, a Harwich, Mass., native, said.
How did they discover Movember?
"My roommates and I got a new house and we decided we were going to grow moustaches to determine who got the best rooms," Stubbs, 24, of Mexia, Texas, explained. "We were online, doing moustache research, and this [fundraiser] looked like a good idea, so we jumped on board."
Movember rallies men to grow moustaches for the month of November to raise funds and awareness for prostate and testicular cancers. In the United States, funds raised will benefit the Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) as well as the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF), two organizations dedicated to fighting cancers affecting adult men of all ages.
"We were sort of inspired by all the women's movements and what they had done for breast cancer, and we thought there is nothing like it for cancers that affect men," co-founder of Movember Adam Garone said.
"We thought this would be fun after seeing the [Movember] Web site," Melville said. "It would be fun and for a good cause."
Melville said the month-long benefit plays to a larger issue men's health issues tend to get ignored, both by men and the population at large.
"There's two parts to this: spreading awareness and fundraising," Melville told Reminder Publications. "For men, health issues are kind of a taboo subject."
Stubbs recited some of the frightening facts about men's cancers. "One in six men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime," he said. "Someone is diagnosed every eight minutes; someone dies every 18 minutes. I absolutely do worry about [cancer]. I get regular check-ups and I think more people should too."
Dr. Wilson Mertens, Medical Director of Cancer Services for Baystate Health, said the two kinds of cancer Movember spreads awareness about affect two different portions of the male population.
"Prostate cancer is still a cancer of older men, with peak incidences in the sixth and seventh decades of life," he said. "Testicular cancer is a different story. It most often affects men in their late teens through their early thirties."
"Young guys don't talk a lot about cancer, and I think that that continues on into middle age," Mertens said. "Women tend to be more in touch with their bodies."
Treatment for testicular cancer often involves the removal of a testicle and then, depending on the stage and type of cancer, follow ups ranging from active surveillance to chemotherapy and radiation.
Treatment for prostate cancer is a little trickier, because finding it first is the hardest part. In the 1980s, the only way to find it was through a digital prostate exam; in the early '90s, a blood test was developed and that caused the number of cases found to go through the roof, according to Mertens. "However, mortality rates have declined one-third since 1996."
Active surveillance, minimally invasive surgery and radiation are all ways to treat prostate cancer.
The money that Melville and Stubbs raise as members of the Scythian Horsemen team (named after a 300 B.C. portrait of a horseman donning a moustache, the first example of the facial hair in artwork) will be benefitting national charities; members of the Springfield Falcons who are participating in Movember will donate what they collect to Baystate Health, which Mertens said will be used to fund more clinical research on the men's cancers.
The Falcons will have tables set up to hand out information and collect donations at each home game.
"People are fascinated by [Movember]," Melville commented, "and we say, the more the merrier. If they want to join our group and support the cause, they are welcome to."
"I will be doing this [participating in Movember] every year," Stubbs added. "It's too great a cause to not be involved."
The Scythian Horsemen will be hosting a Movember Madness party at Smith's Billiards on Worthington Street in Springfield on the evening of Nov. 14, and the public is invited to attend.
To learn more about Movember or to make a donation, visit www.movember.com