A stiff upper lip for men’s health

John Devitt

It is something that most men are guilty of.  Putting off a trip to the doctor to get checked out, because we are always certain that it will turn out to be nothing and it is hard enough to see a doctor anyway.  Those are just a couple of the reasons why men’s health is generally in such a poor state.  Largely attributable to longstanding traditions of men ‘being tough’, men often will deny symptoms until it is too late, making early detection and effective treatment of disease less likely.  The dominant perception of masculinity is associated with physical strength, emotional stoicism, assertiveness and control.  All of these traits work contrary to proactive and preventive approaches to health.

Beginning Thursday, Movember 1, 2012, men and women around the world will begin growing their illustrious mustaches to raise awareness and funds for men’s health.  For some, Movember is a hipster hassle, something they are sick of hearing about.  Others grow a mustache to be part of the club, but contribute little more than that.  Many others will register at www.movember.com, take weekly photos of their ‘stache to show off to social networks and raise some money.  Very few, however, will recognize that cancer and health are not limited by the months in the calendar and will reach out even further.

This isn’t the first time that Movember has descended upon an unsuspecting Revelstoke.  For the past few years’ local pubs have organized Movember campaigns supported by boozy parties and the chance at winning ‘best of mo’ prizes and swag.  Bar managers got the ball rolling and now the mustache movement has swelled beyond the confines of these establishments.  The incentive for many of us is to raise awareness of men’s health, not an excuse to raise a glass of alcohol.  Growing a mustache is about becoming selfless, setting ego aside, and standing united to in the interests of creating a healthier lifestyle.

Did you know that prostate cancer is the most common cancer to affect Canadian men.  One in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime.  Of those cases, 90% are curable if detected and treated in their earliest stages, before the majority of men will actually acknowledge there is a problem.

Did you know that both Rotary International and the Men’s Health Organization of British Columbia are just two of the agencies that honour the importance of Men’s Health by annually celebrating International Men’s Health Week during the week that precedes Fathers’ Day?

Did you know November 19 is International Men’s Day observed by several countries including Canada?  One objective of many is to focus on health issues.

Did you know that growing a mustache isn’t the only fashionable way to show your support for men’s health?  You can also wear a blue ribbon, wristband, necktie, or shirt, to raise awareness.  It shouldn’t be too difficult to cover the month of November in facial hair and the colour blue, should it?

Every year during the month of October the National Football League manages to get all of its athletes, approximately 1700 of the toughest men to walk the planet, to wear pink and join the fight against breast cancer.   Springtime brings daffodils, the Relay for Life and the colour yellow representing the fight against many more forms of cancer.  If we can all get behind these other colourful months, then it shouldn’t be too much for the rest of us to stop shaving for a few weeks, wear some blue and start raising some dollars for our fathers, brothers, uncles, cousins, grandfathers, sons and friends.

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