Movember: Season of the ‘Stache
ProstateCancer.net recently sat down with the Movember Foundation and two Mo Bros, Doug Prusoff and Matt Gutt, to talk about the Movember movement, what the month is all about, and how men around the world can get involved in their community. Doug is Corporate Development Manager for the Movember Foundation and started his advocacy work in college. This year marks his 10th year participating as a Movember fundraiser. Matt was diagnosed with prostate cancer and started his advocacy work as a grassroots organizer about 5 years ago in his community. His local fundraising events have included guest bartending with friends and advocates at his local bar in Narberth, Pennsylvania.
What is Movember all about?
Doug: Movember is the leading global charity changing the face of men’s health. The basic concept behind our foundation is that, unfortunately, guys sometimes are not the best about taking care of themselves. They don’t go to the doctor, they don’t talk about health, they don’t do a lot of the things they need to do to take care of themselves, and as a result, men die an average of six years earlier than women. The real goal for our foundation is to help create a world where men live healthier, happier, longer lives. The way we do that is through the conversations we start and the funds we raise for our prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention programs. Our foundation’s been around since 2003, and since that time we’ve had over 5 million global participants come together to raise $837 million dollars and fund over 12,000 men’s health projects in 20 countries around the world.
Matt: Movember is a great resource for creating awareness. My personal interest is in raising money to help fund educational programs and research efforts. Unfortunately, prostate cancer carries some embarrassing side effects which could lead men not to go out and seek help. That’s certainly true in my case; I had to be encouraged by my wife to go get my prostate checked. Movember’s mission and the educational resources are really important to demystify the disease and side effects. To tell men, “Get out, get checked!” and make sure men are not overlooking something that could be a serious problem.
Doug: I think one of the biggest issues men face is this idea of masculinity and being a manly man. “I can power through this. I don’t need to go to the doctor or talk about my feelings or talk about things when they’re not going right.” A big piece of Movember is to reduce that stigma; to really get guys to feel comfortable and confident in taking action to put themselves in a better position to live healthier, happier, and longer lives. I think a lot of guys are brought up to put others first and put themselves second, but understanding that by taking care of yourself then you can put yourself in a position to be there for the people you love and care about.
The meaning of the mo
Doug: What I love about Movember is that at the high level, we’re a men’s health organization. Underneath that banner, you have prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. I think everybody finds their own connection to the cause. For us, we see a pretty broad variety in those motivations, everything from the serious side to the more fun side. What’s nice is that it is a fun take on serious issues. It’s an opportunity to get teams together, to connect with people, to start conversations, to do something a little bit different, so you wouldn’t necessarily need this super personal connection to get involved in our causes. You can just see it as a fun and different way to contribute to positive change.
One of my favorite parts of participating in Movember is the mustache. You walk into a bar down the street or you see somebody else with it, and you give each other a little high five. It’s this little solidarity moment, like “is that a Movember mustache?”
All those great conversations that it starts. It’s something I always say to people that haven’t participated before. If you’ve never done Movember, if you’ve never grown that mustache, I guarantee the first year you do it you will have one conversation that you never would have had if you hadn’t participated in Movember, whether it’s with a friend, a family member, a potential donor, a random person on the street, or your coworker. Someone will talk to you and you’ll open up, they’ll open up and it’ll just be something much deeper and more meaningful than you would’ve expected when you started your Movember journey.
Matt: It’s great because you mention the word Movember and most people know about it. Since getting involved, I’ve noticed people who are clean shaved all year suddenly growing hair in November. When you ask them, “So what are ya growing? A mustache?” and they’ll often say something like, “Oh no, it’s Movember or No Shave November!” They’re out there supporting the cause. Even if they’re not raising money, they’re creating awareness by starting a dialogue. It really is fun! My first year we ran a contest with all of my friends and I handed out awards for their mustaches. It’s a fun way to raise awareness and get people in the community involved.
Getting started with your Movember movement
Doug: If people are interested in events locally, we have an events section on Movember.com where you can search by your zip code and find others hosting fundraising or awareness events. The way Movember works is it’s really peer to peer, community led. If you aren’t seeing events in your community, then do what Matt and his group did and take events into your own hands. We don’t have strict restrictions on setting up events. We want people engaged and spreading the word in their communities as local ambassadors.
Matt: One thing that really pumped up my fundraising was that Movember helps you craft messages on social media. You can create a fundraising page on Movember that tracks donations, and also send out a message to all your Facebook friends. Sending that and telling them what my goal is allowed me to easily double my donations in a short period of time. It also helps those people who can’t get out personally to an event but still want to donate.
Doug: It’s as simple as starting a conversation in your community. Whether you’re signing up, creating your own event, or reaching out to friends and family, whatever it may be, just let them know what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. There isn’t a wrong way to go about raising funds and spreading awareness. If you go to Movember.com, there’s plenty of information on how to host an event and set up a fundraising campaign.
If you’re interested in signing up for more information, growing your mo, donating to the movement, or even starting your own Movember fundraising event, go to Movember.com or click here.
If you’re looking for more information about prostate cancer and what this diagnosis means for your life, you can check out the Movember TrueNTH platform here.
If you’re searching for mental health resources and support, you can learn more about Movember’s Man of More Words movement here.