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Why Movember Is Not Just For Guys

Me, looking like I should be in that Beastie Boys' "Sabotage" video.

I’m old enough to remember when mustaches were cool, a sign of Manliness and virility. Burt Reynolds! Tom Selleck! Clark Gable! Wilford Brimley! Men wanted to be them. Women (and yes, some men) wanted to be with them. (Hey, Brimley was the bomb in Cocoon.) But over the years that changed, and these days, if you wear a mustache, you might as well just drive a windowless beat-up ’76 Ford van with “Free Candy!” painted on the side.

This weighed on my mind as I headed into the meeting room. I knew going into it that I’d get looks. And not the good kind. I would be talking to the parents of my youth rugby team, in the first orientation meeting of the season. I’m sure my own self-conciousness didn’t help; standing in front of a roomful of parents, whose kids I’d be coaching, wearing what could charitably be described as a Creepy Stalker Mustache, with a nation still reeling from the Penn State nightmare…yeah, there was the potential for disaster. I’d preface my speech by telling them that I was growing the mustache for Movember. It’s a charity thing. Thousands of guys across the U.S. are doing it. Please don’t get a restraining order.

Movember began in Adelaide, Australia, started by a small group of locals as a way of raising money for the local Society For The Prevention of Cruelty To Animals. In 2004, the focus shifted to raising awareness and cash for men’s health issues in Australia and New Zealand. Officially, it’s in its infancy in the U.S., with the Movember Foundation launching formal events here in 2007. Since then, Movember has become a grassroots movement here in the States, relatively small but fiercely dedicated; in 2010, an estimated 64,500 American men (and women – called Mo Sistas) participated in or donated to the cause, raising $7.5 million.

So when anyone asks why I’m looking like a member of  The Sons of Anarchy, I tell them the facts. When it comes to cancer, men may face even more sobering statistics than women. 1 in 3 women will be diagnosed with some form of cancer in their lifetimes; 1 in 2 men will be afflicted. And prostate cancer, so often the punchline in “turn your head and cough” jokes, is far from trivial. 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer (a man is 35% more likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer than a woman is to be diagnosed with breast cancer). Left undetected, prostate cancer is a killer: an estimated 32,000 men will die from it this year. Put another way, odds are that you’ll know someone who’ll be affected by prostate cancer: a friend, a brother, a grandfather, a dad. If an admittedly itchy upper lip helps knock back those numbers, I’m happy to deal with it. (And if you’d like to learn more about Movember and contribute to my Movember team, which includes a bunch of great dadbloggers, go here.)

Read more of Jason’s writing at DadCentric.

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