Another November is well under way and the celebratory spirit of this season seems to grow stronger each day. Many of you readers are likely fine-tuning details for a Thanksgiving gathering, and perhaps you've even started shopping for the holidays. So while the merriment is ramping up, don’t forget about another wonderful reason to celebrate this month: it’s Movember!
In case you’re unfamiliar, the month of November is dedicated to raising awareness about men’s health issues, particularly prostate and testicular cancers, as well as overall mental health. Men are encouraged to grow a mustache for the entire month, and there are fundraising components to support the programs and philanthropic work of the Movember Foundation. Many groups of friends and co-workers get into the spirit with ‘shave the date’ parties and contests for the best-groomed mustache (as the Movember rules state, all participants must start with a clean-shaven face on November 1); there are even Mustache Dache 5k events held in various locations across the country.
As someone who probably does not want to participate in the mustache-growing aspect of this movement, why should you jump on the ‘stache-wagon?’ Well, a good mustache is a natural conversation-starter, and that, ladies, is the entire point of Movember. In general, the men you love need to talk more about their health and they need to make it a priority.
You've probably heard all the excuses. Some men simply avoid the doctor because they don’t want to know if something is wrong. Others grew up in a generation with environmental and social pressures to “man up” or “rub some dirt on it” when they felt pain or were out of sorts. Of course, a man’s role as “provider” offers another excuse: he’s too busy with work, family and social commitments to take time out for things like a prostate check. And when it comes to mental health, seeking the help of a therapist can feel like admitting weakness. These are some strong notions to overcome, but that’s what makes Movember so great: a little facial hair can break the ice in order to have an honest conversation.
What’s the cost of avoiding that talk? According to the Centers for Disease Control, men are half as likely as women to get regular physicals and health screenings. As a result, they are less likely to prevent the onset of a serious condition. So, for example, a highly treatable disease like prostate cancer can turn deadly if not caught and treated appropriately in time. Women already outlive men by an average of 5.2 years, and it’s safe to say there is a direct correlation between the lack of attention men pay to their health and that gap. We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to insist men focus more on preventative care.
I’m betting many of you who handle the million-and-one little things that keep your family moving have at times wondered what the important man in your life would do without you. But it’s just as crucial to remind him that you need him too. So for the sake of the beloved male in your life, celebrate the ‘stache’ this month and start a conversation about what truly matters.