Albertans begin growing a stache in support

Movember has kicked off and Albertans have began growing a ‘stache in support of their fellow Canadians.

Every November, across Canada, men sign up to Grow a Mo for the 30 days of Movember, getting friends, family and colleagues to donate to their effort. Men and women can also get involved by committing to ‘Move’, walking or running 60 km over the month, or host by hosting an event– getting together with friends to change the face of men’s health.

“Since 2007, Mo Bros in Alberta have put aside their razors in November to sport a moustache – chevron, horseshoe, handlebar and everything in between, to put a face to the health issues many men find difficult to talk about,” said Jason Copping, Minister of Health. “The facts underscore why this work is critical. Estimates suggest prostrate cancer accounts for 20 per cent of all new cancer cases in Canadian men.”

He says that in Alberta, about 150 men are diagnosed with testicular cancer every year, the most common type of cancer in males aged 15 to 35 years, and the most treatable if caught early.

“Movember has grown internationally from its modest Australian beginnings in 2003 when two friends were having a quiet beer in a local bar in Melbourne, Australia,” explains Sonya Friesen, with Movember Canada. “They started talking about the moustache having gone out of fashion and joked about bringing it back. They talked their friends into growing a Mo and created a campaign about men’s health and prostate cancer.”

Friesen says they designed the rules of Movember, which are still in place today and found 30 buddies to take up the challenge.

“Eighteen years and many millions of Mo’s later, Movember is the leading men’s health charity with a presence in more than 20 countries. Movember is now the leading global charity dedicated to changing the face of men’s health. We invest in research and initiatives in the areas of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention,” she says.

Movember funds research and support projects.

“Either directly or through partners, in prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. Since Movember’s inception in 2003, we’ve funded over 1,250 initiatives globally,” says Friesen. “We invest in biomedical research which is helping us to understand prostate and testicular cancers better, develop new treatments and identify what works for which men.”

The charity also focuses on supplying information, tools and resources for men diagnosed with prostate or testicular cancer to ensure they get the best health outcomes and quality of life.

Friesen says this includes the global TrueNTH program which is the biggest commitment ever made to improving physical and mental outcomes for men going through prostate or testicular cancer.

Funds also go to clinical quality registries.

“(They are) huge surveys capturing the real life experience of thousands of men with prostate cancer which help us tell which treatment and care pathways work best for different groups of men based,” says Friesen. “This includes the IronMan program, which operates across nine countries and is specifically focused on what works for men with advanced disease.”

They also recently launched The Social Connections Challenge. Through a crowd sourcing format, aims to find and help develop ideas that will maintain or strengthen social connections and address isolation in groups of at-risk men.

“As many as 75 ideas from Canada, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK will be shortlisted, with a goal of selecting 16 ideas and investing $3.22 million overall. In Canada, up to five ideas will be selected for co-development with Movember at an investment between $90,000 to 225,000 toward each idea.”

We also run awareness campaigns for Testicular Cancer Awareness and Suicide Prevention which encourage men to understand their health risks and take action by talking or going to a health professional when necessary.

Friesen says that COVID has made Movember a bit more of a challenge but the charity has found a way to make it work for Canadians.

“It’s been a bit of a unique last two years, but luckily there are many epic moustache styles that fit underneath a mask and it might be the best time to try out that style you were always to worried to sport at the office.

She adds that for those who don’t want to grow a Mo this year, it’s not a problem.

“There are lots of other ways to participate including moving, hosting a virtual event, or even choosing to ‘Mo your own way’, you decide the challenge, you push your limits, all for a good cause.”

“During the pandemic many men are facing unexpected challenges including financial pressures and unemployment. Please remember that confidential addiction and mental health supports are available 24-7 across the province,” says Copping. “While services and supports for men’s mental health are available, many men continue to suffer in silence. Sadly, more than 500 people in Alberta die by suicide every year, with males making up the majority.”

He encourages others to ‘embrace the bristles’ this month.

“You don’t need to grow a Mo to show your support. I encourage Mo Bros and Mo Sistas across the province to get involved. Together, we can change the face of men’s health.”

For more information visit ca.movember.com.