Because I work in the cancer not-for-profit sector, when November rolls around each year I am often asked, “What is the difference between Movember and No Shave November?” Good question, but is it the one we should be asking? The month of November gives us a chance to think about something else: How do we build awareness within the cancer community to make a difference or start a movement?
I have become passionate about supporting men’s cancers, specifically testicular cancer, ever since my brother, Michael, was diagnosed with testicular cancer on August 29, 2007. Since then, as sign of my support for him and other male cancer thrivers, I have let my facial hair grow for the month of November. Some years I grow out a beard for the month, other years I have just grown out the mustache; last year I shaved my head to raise $1,200 for Epic Experience, the nonprofit I work for that provides adult survivors with a weeklong adventure camp. It is important to me to be supportive of my brother and all other men going through this cancer journey, and over the past ten years, this is how I have done it.
Why don’t I just stick with one movement? Is one way more recognized than the other? At the end of the day, it is all about cancer awareness and making an impact no matter how you get there. Movember is a nonprofit that started the men’s cancer awareness movement in Australia and has now extended to men’s mental health as well. Movember asks guys to grow their best mustache during the month of November as a sign of support. No Shave November is an online nonprofit movement that encourages men to put their razors for the month of November and grow out their beards—no cleaning or trimming; just let it grow and see what happens. Livestrong had the yellow wristbands, Susan G Komen had the Wear Pink movement, and many other cancer nonprofits have had their way of building awareness.
In the end, it does not matter what you do or how you do it; what matters is that you are willing to voice your support out loud to make the impact and change that will benefit the cause you care about. This month, whether you grow out your beard for No Shave November or grow out a sweet mustache for Movember, the most important part is remembering why you are doing it. You are doing it to support those men that are having a challenging life experience that will change their outlook and path in life.
So, this November share why you grow, groom, or shave your facial hair. Explain that you are doing this because you want to support the one in seven men who will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime; share that testicular cancer is the most diagnosed cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 44. Use your voice, write a social media post, or support a local event like Epic Experience’s Brovember on November 17, 2017, but most of all do not put any boundaries on what you feel will make an impact for these men if the opportunity presents itself.
Director of Operations