Talking about one’s health can be an intimidating subject. In a society where vitality has long been associated with individual success, it is common to keep our health problems private—not only to convey strength, but to avoid making anyone else contemplate how our health issues are related to their mortality. This often leads to victims of cancer and other maladies to suffer alone.

In 1985, a partnership between the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical founded National Breast Cancer Awareness Month (NBCAM). The aim of NBCAM was to promote mammography as the most effective weapon in the fight against breast cancer. This revolutionary idea brought survivors of breast cancer to the forefront of the cause, and showcased the struggle of the disease. By doing so, they created an outlet for those suffering, a support system of peers, and a shoulder to lean on.

In 2003, two friends from Melbourne, Australia, were discussing fashion trends over a beer. They noted that the mustache-something that had been a fixture in past decades–was nowhere to be seen in popular culture. Wanting to get their friends involved, they found 30 guys to take up the challenge of growing the old school facial decoration for the month of November. Encouraged by the conversation-starting power of the mustache, Movember was born. Mo (for Mustache) + November = Movember.

In 2004, a friend’s mother who was fundraising for breast cancer during NBCAM inspired them to use Movember as a support for men’s health issues. The initial project focused on bringing awareness to the deadly nature of prostate and testicular cancer. It has since expanded to support mental health issues, suicide prevention, and health issues caused by inactivity.

The Movember movement began humbly and has grown to become a true global initiative. They went from fundraising $40,851 to help fund six Australian men’s health projects in 2004 to fundraising $710 million to help fund 1,200 men’s health projects globally in 2015. This success is due to the hard work of over five million supporters. The global adoption of Movember has not only encouraged some truly awesome facial hair, but it has also encouraged lofty goals and created a hope of real progress.

The Movember Foundation has spent years funding the most innovative and forward-thinking projects and getting the best researchers together to tackle each issue. They have focused on what works for men. From early detection to diagnosis, treatment, and support, they’re not just looking for a cure — they’re looking for quality of life.

You can help support the Movember Foundation today. Join and donate to Southland’s Movember group here:

But, fundraising isn’t the only way to help. The purpose of growing notable facial hair is to start a conversation. A conversation we have all been avoiding. Too many men are dying because they fear addressing their vitality. Let’s stand with them by letting them know we support them, passing on information they may be unaware of, and supporting a November tradition that has already done so much.



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