University of Manitoba students sporting moustaches have entered week three of Movember, in an effort to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Canada.
A campaign that began seven years ago has grown enormously since its inception. Movember challenges men to start the month of November clean-shaven before allowing their moustaches to grow for the rest of the month.
The idea for the campaign came about in northern Australia, when four friends decided to grow a moustache that November, simply for the sake of bringing it back in style. However, the moustache soon proved valuable in starting discussions and raising awareness around men’s health.
The following year, the friends focused on using the moustache to raise money for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. At the end of the month, their campaign had raised $50,000 — the largest single donation that the Prostate Cancer Foundation in Australia had ever received. The “mo,” slang for moustache in Australia, soon became a widely recognized ribbon for men’s health.
Campaign coordinator of Movember Canada, Jesse Hayman, said that for a campaign with modest roots, it has grown enormously over the years. The U.K., the United States, Ireland, Spain, South Africa and Finland joined Australia in support of the cause. Canada jumped the bandwagon in 2007.
According to Hayman, Movember not only represents a fight against prostate cancer, but more generally, a global men’s health movement.
“The overarching goal is the same for all the foundations, [ . . . ] to use the moustache to make every single ‘mo-bro’ and ‘mo-sister’ a billboard for men’s health and the fight against prostate cancer,” said Hayman.
Last year, global participation in the Movember campaign raised $47 million.
In Canada, Movember had 35,000 registrants who raised $7.65 million.
This year, the foundation’s goal was to have 55,000 registrants and to raise $10.4 million.
According to Hayman, these goals have already been surpassed. There are currently 99,962 registrants on Movember.com, and although it is only half way through November, Canadians have has collected close to $7 million — $1.2 million above Australia’s amount.
“We’re really killing it. No country has ever been above Australia, so we’re definitely blowing our expectations out of the water,” said Hayman.
Hayman said that the campaign is inspired by the women’s health movement.
“It’s come a time when women are extremely conscious about their health. [ . . . ] I don’t think anyone would argue that generally men generally are not”.
One in six men is afflicted by prostate cancer in Canada. Ninety per cent of the time, prostate cancer is curable if it is caught in the early stages, making annual testing ever more important.
Hayman notes that it is often more difficult for men to talk about personal health issues, compared to women.
“That’s what we’re trying to change, to remove that stigma,” he said.
The foundation hopes seeing the moustaches will help raise awareness and serve as a reminder for men to get checked.
University of Manitoba Students’ Union (UMSU) vice-president (student services) Matt Hepner said this is the first year that everyone at the U of M has come together on this campaign.
“We’re trying to put men’s health on the radar screen because a lot of men are just stubborn and don’t go to the doctor for any form of checkup,” said Hepner.
“It’s promoting men’s health in a really fun and engaging way.”
Students from the faculty of medicine took it upon themselves to create “moustache necklaces” by attaching fake moustaches to chains. Additionally, UMSU has also created pins for people to wear, in order to encourage everyone’s participation.
“Women can support the cause too, and also guys that can’t grow moustaches or guys whose partners won’t allow them to,” he said.
UMSU will be holding a “Movember to Remember” event on Dec. 1. Although details are yet to be finalized, Hepner said that prizes will focus on outstanding participation instead of on the dollars sign.
Matthew Neufeld, a fifth-year music and education student at the U of M said he is wearing his moustache proud.
“It’s just a great way to show my respect for people suffering from prostate cancer. [ . . . ] Everybody loves the mo’!” he said.
The campaign is mainly based online, where registrants can sign up, customize their own “Mo Space” and collect donations. More information on the campaign can be found by visiting Movember.com.