The power of the mo: How Movember is saving men's lives
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The power of the mo: How Movember is saving men's lives

Stories/369 , Issues/Men's Health , Issues/Healthcare
Melbourne VIC, Australia
8th Nov 2018
The power of the mo: How Movember is saving men's lives
November is the month of the mo.

Movember is the only charity organisation focused solely on improving men's health globally. From humble origins in Melbourne back in 2004, the movement today is being promoted in over 25 countries. Movember is helping encourage and shape the conversations around prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.

According to Mark Waldron, Chief Operations Officer at Movember, on average a man takes his own life every sixty seconds. In other words, sixty men die every hour globally from suicide. The World Health Organisation puts the number of suicides at one every 40 seconds.

"The concept of masculinity in the past was that guys would not talk about their problems, they would keep it to themselves, they would tough it out" says Mark.

"We know that's not the way to get the most effective and successful outcome. We need to change the dialogue and the definition [of masculinity]. For example, the term 'manning up' means being open and talking about mental health."

During Movember growing a mo is one way to support men's health.
During Movember growing a mo is one way to support men's health.

So why the moustache? According to Mark the story goes that the founders of Movember were having a conversation about how moustaches have fallen out of fashion. They took up the challenge to bring it back and thought they might as well do it for a worthy cause. They began growing moustaches and encouraged their friends to grow theirs as well. Money was raised and Movember was born.

Jonathan Leeming, a Movember participant i.e. a MoBro, can attest to the power of the mo. "I have grown a trucker's moustache every year for the last eight years. It is really ridiculous and stands out [but] it promotes conversation and enables me to talk about why I am doing it", he says.

Jonathan Leeming is a Mo Ambassador.
Jonathan Leeming is a Mo Ambassador.

Jonathan found out he had testicular cancer in 2005. He has also suffered from clinical depression and suicidal ideation since he was 14 years old. It was a TV show shining a light on testicular cancer that prompted him to visit a doctor.

"That made me feel around in the shower that day. Something didn't feel quite right and so I called the doctor the next day" he recalls.

The doctor told him that there was nothing wrong. Despite his doctor's assurances Jonathan nonetheless still wanted to get an ultrasound to be sure.

"I had to ask four times, until eventually I demanded a referral. That really riled me because I had to wait three and a half weeks before I could get an ultrasound and it turned out it was cancer. There were two big black lumps in there- [it was] testicular seminoma. Five days later I had the operation."

These days Jonathan works in suicide prevention at Suicide Prevention Australia and is an ambassador for Movember, an organisation he believes is too humble.

"They don't shout from rooftops about the work they do. They are funding some really ground-breaking work in over 20 countries. I always try to encourage people to get involved and support Movember whether through giving money, hosting an event, or growing a moustache."

Since 2004 Movember has invested $92 million in biomedical research as well as treatment and support services for men and their families in Australia. Recently Movember has teamed up with the Commonwealth government on a $12 million prostate cancer research project.

According to Mark Waldron this project is partially funded by Movember. "It's something we are incredibly proud of. It will result in new centres which would look specifically at prostate cancer and how to effectively tackle the disease."

"It's a testament to the fact that the federal government is actively starting to look at these issues and a testament to the important contributions that MoBros and MoSistas make to these causes."

Movember is having a lasting impact not only on men's health but also on mo culture. There are many different kinds of moustaches that can grace your face and it is safe to say the mo is back. While Jonathan generally sports a Trucker's mo, also known as the Chopper mo, Mark has opted for a Burt Reynolds to pay tribute to one of the best and dynamic moustaches in the business.

"If I can grow a moustache, I am doing pretty well. In honour of the great man who recently passed I am trying...but I am usually happy with what I can get."

Growing a moustache is not the only way people can get involved in Movember. For those who are 'follicly challenged' you can choose to traverse 60 km during November as part of the 'Move' challenge. It can be walking, running, cycling or any form of activity. The number 60 was chosen to represent the number of lives lost every minute to suicide. If you're more socially inclined you can organise a get together through Movember's 'Host' option to raise funds for men's health.

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