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Loyalist students remember, remember the need for Movember

By Mark Hodgins [1] and Sean McIntosh [2]

BELLEVILLE – Students at Loyalist College moustache themselves a question: What’s the true impact of men growing facial hair and raising some money?

A majority of students say they support the fundraising campaign called Movember [3], which takes place every November. Men all over the world grow moustaches for money to raise awareness and support the fight against prostate cancer, as well as other male health problems such as testicular cancer and mental-health issues.

Loyalist employee Evan Sonkin said men’s health issues reach out into the community.

“Much like Breast Cancer Awareness Month, it’s important that awareness is raised and that we’re all supportive of people that have gone through it. We’ve all been touched by it,” he said.

Student Josh Thompson agrees that men’s health issues are significant.

“I think it’s a very admirable cause. I mean, anything that kind of donates to help research for any form of disability or anything that could be wrong with people is a great help,” he said.

While men’s health is the focus of Movember, women can get involved with the event as well.

Loyalist student Lisa Strong says she supports Movember.

“I have (male) cousins who partake in that every year, so we make sure to help them fundraise, and share the likes on Facebook so more people become aware of it … We have family members who have been affected by cancer in different ways, so we really think it’s an important cause,” Strong said.

Even though the money is dedicated to research, the event also brings attention to men’s overall health. Of those interviewed, Loyalist men say they feel their health is important and they work to stay fit.

“I think I’m as concerned as anyone else is. It’s important to go to the doctor and get checkups regularly and stuff. My parents always raised me (not to wait to) go when you’re at death’s door and make sure that you go regularly, get yourself checked out,” said Loyalist student Ryan Clavelle. “It’s worth it, and in the end it’s better to know than not to know.”

Clavelle said he tries to be active in order to stay healthy.

“(I’ll) take walks, make sure I’m regularly active. I’m not the most healthy person in the world, but it’s about taking steps, and they add up after a while.”

Another Loyalist student, Josh Cooney, says staying active is the most important aspect of him staying healthy.

“I play hockey, go on runs when I can, work out every now and then. I don’t eat a lot of junk food,” he said.

Movember began 10 years ago in Australia when a couple of friends wondered whatever happened to the moustache. They also wanted to draw attention to men’s health issues. So, in 2004, Adam Garone decided to combine the two. He registered a company and also started a website. When it began, it raised money only for prostate cancer.

In its infancy, the movement raised over $1 million in Australia alone, before branching out to include New Zealand in 2006. Canada joined the fight against prostate cancer the following year.

The Prostate Cancer Canada website [4] says prostate cancer is the most common type of cancer diagnosed among Canadian men.  In 2014, 23,600 Canadian men will be diagnosed with the disease, and 4,000 will die.

There is good news, though.

The website also states that between 2001 and 2009, prostate cancer’s death rate declined by almost four per cent every year.

By 2009, the initiative had raised over $95 million and helped fund a number of significant breakthroughs in prostate-cancer research.

Last year 21 countries participated in Movember, and to date the movement has raised $574 million. Canada raised $33 million alone last year, and according to Movember’s financial report, 90.5 per cent of that money was used to fund men’s health programs.

Movember has gone a step further, launching the True NTH (True North) program.  It’s a collaboration of five countries, including Canada, that will be based around a $40 million investment directly into prostate cancer care programs. More countries are expected to join to further increase resources and do as much as possible to help improve the quality of life for those living with the disease.