Save the testes, not just the ta-tas

Save the TestesMovember?
I remember the first time I read the word, I thought it was some sort of practical joke. In fact, I bashfully admit that I ignored the whole Movember thing for a number of years. I honestly thought it was just guys being guys. Or that it was some sort of meme that spawned from men growing their “hunting beards” (true story and real-life phenomenon).

Boy, was I wrong. Little did I know it was something SO much more, and something I should have supported from the start. In fact, Movember was MADE for someone like myself.

What is Movember?

Movember is the global men’s health charity encouraging men to grow and women to support the Mo (moustache) for the 30 days of November. Through the power of the moustache, awareness and funds are raised for men’s health to combat prostate and testicular cancer.

In the US, programs directed by the Movember Foundation are focused on awareness and education, living with and beyond cancer, and research to achieve our vision of an everlasting impact on the face of men’s health. (

Here is Adam Garone, one of the co-founders of this amazing organization, telling his story during a TED Talk:

After realizing that this was a legitimately registered non-profit organization, I was hooked. I, of course, had to know more.

Movember started in Melbourne, Australia in 2003 with two guys who wanted to bring back a past fashion trend – the moustache. That year, 30 guys participated but no money was raised. In 2004, amazed by the fun they had and the conversations that were sparked, four of the 30 original members came together to make their Mo-growing an annual, official charitable endeavor by adding an important cause – prostate cancer. That year, 450 participants raised $43,000 for the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia.

Movember came to the US in 2007, with 2,127 participants raising over $740,000. This year, there will be official Movember campaigns in 21 countries.

Globally, 3 million participants have raised more than $446 million to date. (

Re-read that last statement…all of that stems from a dare between a couple of friends.

I consider that pretty darn amazing.

It’s really quite simple. You start the month of November with a clean-shaven face, and you grow a mustache for 30 days. Done. Period.

You’re probably asking the same question I asked: “How in the world does this help with men’s health?”

It starts the conversation.

Men either have some form of facial hair, or none. I myself make a vain attempt at a goatee most of my waking days. I can’t grow a full, respectable beard…all you get to see are those attractive hair patches on my face that look like I forgot how to use a pair of clippers, or that I shaved in the dark. And I can’t remember the last time I didn’t have some facial hair.

So it sparks a conversation out of curiosity or humor. People will notice the change. Either they notice your clean-shaven face (meaning your usual facial hair is gone), or they notice you growing the stubble (since you normally have no facial hair).

For 30 days you have the opportunity to share your views on men’s health that include talking points about testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and men’s mental illness. You become a megaphone to your friends, family, coworkers and patients, without even trying!

The mustache growing for the month of November will become our “pink ribbon” equivalent! How about we save the testes AND the ta-tas?

Yes, I’m completely serious and purposely poking fun all at once. Movember aims to do all the above: Poke fun, educate, inform, start the conversation and raise some money. Its slogan is “Changing the face of men’s health,” and it has its own language like “Shave the Date” and “Gen Mo,” “Mo News,” “Mo Bro” and “Mo Sistas,” all to help spark the conversation.

Men don’t have their “pink ribbon” yet because we have a tendency to shy away from the real conversations. It’s not cool in our eyes, even though our life expectancy is almost five years less than that of the opposite sex. Movember offers its own explanatory perspective:

  •     Lack of awareness and understanding about the health issues men face
  •     Men not openly discussing their health and how they’re feeling
  •     Reluctance to take action when men don’t feel physically or mentally well
  •     Men engaging in risky activities that threaten their health
  •     Stigmas surrounding both physical and mental health

And here are some startling facts concerning men’s health:

  • 1 in 2 men, and 1 in 3 women, will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime.
  • 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in his lifetime.
  • Over 238,000 new cases of the disease will be diagnosed and almost 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer in 2013.
  • Testicular cancer is the most common cancer in males between the ages of 15 and 35.
  • 1 in every 13 men will be diagnosed with lung cancer in his lifetime.
  • An estimated 13 million men, or 11.8% of all men over the age of 20, have diabetes.
  • Globally, 5.3 million deaths will be attributed to physical inactivity.
  • Over 6 million men are diagnosed with depression each year.
  • Almost four times as many males as females die by suicide.
  • 24% of men are less likely to go to the doctor compared to women.

As a man, how can you NOT get behind this? All you have to do is shave your face and grow a mustache. You have the option to raise money both personally and through other means of fundraising, but ultimately we just need to get more involved. Would you care to join me this Movember? I already created my own “Mo Space.”

I plan on documenting the entire experience with my social media outlets (#Movember). I want to see how far I can take this. Movember has done its homework, because it also has a handy-dandy mobile app you can download and utilize to start the conversation.

What are you doing for Movember? Is it something you’ll discuss with your patients? I want to know! Leave your comments below!

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