The “V” in Movember Stands for Veterans

According to a recent interview with ProstateCancer.net, "Movember is the world’s leading men’s health charity, with four focus cause areas in prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide prevention. Movember is also the name of a season during the month of November, where men start clean-shaven and groom a mustache." Many including myself grow a full beard as our commitment to Movember.

Let us not forget those who served

In addition, November 11 is Veterans Day; a day to express our appreciation to all living veterans of our armed forces for their service in the defense of our freedoms. A close friend (fraternity brother) and I recently published Letters In A Helmet -- A Story of Fraternity and Brotherhood. Ron, is a Vietnam Veteran, severely wounded eight months into his tour of duty commanding a rifle company. Our friendship spans 50 years. While I served in the U.S. Army Reserve, I am a veteran, but fortunately did not go to Vietnam. Having lost friends in that war and my friendship with Ron over the decades is what helped me in my journey with prostate cancer. Yet today it seems we are turning a blind eye to our veterans with PTSD, prostate cancer, as well as other cancers caused by the use of the chemical Agent Orange used in Vietnam to deforest the jungles. Veteran suicide rates are very high. Roughly 22 per day or one every 65 minutes according to a VA study.1 They fought our battles abroad and lost their war upon returning home. We must do better.

Why we need to focus on men's health

While writing today I read an article written by Allex Tanzi of the Washington Post whose byline was "Men’s life expectancy continues to decline." He cites the National Center for Health Statistics from their annual report.

The good news (and I am paraphrasing ), is that if you are a man and make it to age 65 you are likely to live another 18.1 years.2 I was 69 when diagnosed with T2C prostate cancer and a year after da Vinci robotic surgery my PSA is undetectable. Of course, there are a number of “detours” on the way to old age. What are the signs of declining life expectancy?

  1. Despair -- The overdoses of narcotics epidemic is number one
  2. Suicide by younger men and especially veterans
  3. 38% of men are obese which leads to other related conditions (ie. diabetes)

However, there are some positive reports of declining heart-related deaths and cancer dropped 15 percent over the last few years. Yet one in nine men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. Seven out of 10 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, colon cancer, bladder cancer, or testicular cancer. Survival rates are higher thanks to better treatment options and increasing awareness.

My call to action

My call to action is "Fear the Beard" and "Manage Your Mustache"! Every year I grow a full beard over the course of the month. The grey that has crept in reminds me of my own mortality but also that we need to thank our veterans who faced and are facing health challenges that pale my own. Always remember that the "V" in Movember stands for our veterans.

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