Over the past few years, November has marked a return of the mustache for many men. But what sparked this new trend?
The concept of “Movember” (a combination of mustache and November) began in Australia in 2003. That first year, two friends wanted to bring back the mustache by convincing 30 friends to grow one. Their efforts proved very successful, so the following year they asked their friends to collect donations, which they decided to remit to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia. This was a logical choice, since all the participants were men.
Thanks to the Internet and social media, the movement soon spread worldwide. Canadians began joining the ranks of “Mo Bros” in 2007, and Movember Canada was officially created in 2011.
There are now an estimated 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas supporting the movement, and over 600 million dollars has been raised across the world since it was first launched.
Although prostate cancer research was the original focus of the Movember movement, the scope has widened over the years and now includes other aspects of men’s health. This was because the founders realized that men tend to neglect their health or are reticent to get professional help when they need it. As a result, their life expectancy is on average 6 years younger than for women, regardless of where they live.
Movember now focuses on 4 main priorities:
- Prostate cancer
- Testicular cancer
- Mental health and suicide prevention
- Physical inactivity
Each year in Canada, prostate cancer represents 24 percent of all new cancer cases in men. This makes prostate cancer the most common type of cancer among men in Canada, and the second most common type among men worldwide (lung cancer being the most common). There are two main types of prostate cancer: one that develops slowly and tends to respond well to treatment, while the other progresses more quickly and may not respond as well to treatment.
Testicular cancer, for its part, is the most common type of cancer among young men (ages 15 to 35). It is a relatively rare cancer that strikes only one out of every 250 men. If it is detected early while the cancer is still restricted to the testicles, the five-year survival rate is extremely high (99 percent). However, if the cancer has spread to other areas of the body by the time it is diagnosed, the five-year survival rate drops to 71 percent, proof that early detection can make a big difference.
Since 2006, the Movember Foundation has also been funding initiatives aimed at improving mental health in men, which helps reduce the rate of suicide among them as well. The Foundation is particularly interested in programs designed to break the taboos surrounding mental health. If men can feel more at ease discussing mental health, they will be more likely to seek or accept help if they need it, or to help a loved one who is showing signs of distress.
Lastly, the Foundation also promotes initiatives designed to fight physical inactivity in men, in order to improve their overall health.
Funds collected by Mo Bros and Mo Sistas are remitted to organizations working within the Foundation’s main focus areas. In the field of cancer research, teams that receive funding can be working on a local or worldwide scale, but on the condition that they share their results and knowledge. This exchange results in the creation of networks between research centres, so researchers can avoid doing the same work at the same time.
The Foundation doesn’t just fund medical research; it also supports other types of projects, such as mutual aid organizations and mental health awareness campaigns. As is the case for research teams, these programs must also state and share their results. This means that if a local initiative proves to be a success, the Foundation can then offer it on a wider scale. Likewise, if a program doesn’t yield the expected results, the Foundation can also share this information so that others don’t make the same mistake.
There are many ways to raise funds for the Movember Foundation. The traditional way involves men getting people to sponsor them to grow a mustache during the month of November.
If a mustache just isn’t for you, or you’re a woman, you can also take the Move challenge for men’s health. The goal is to get sponsored to do the physical activity of your choice. The participant can choose the challenge – to try a new sport or to reach a new personal record in a sport already being practiced, the possibilities are endless. The challenge can be undertaken individually or as a team.
Not the sporty type? No worries, you can still organize a Movember event! As with the Move challenge, the sky’s the limit: a bowling competition, a dinner gala, a garage sale… The goal is to have fun while raising funds that will be used to improve men’s health!
For more information on the Movember Foundation, visit https://ca.movember.com/