As we work our way further into November, you’re probably noticing a lot more facial hair on the men around you. Specifically, a lot more moustaches.
The Movember campaign - the 30-day campaign to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer and men’s health - has become an annual tradition for many men. The fact that the gradual (and, in some cases, very gradual) appearance of a moustache in November now triggers awareness of prostate cancer is a testament to the efforts of the Movember Foundation. What started with a group of 30 guys raising awareness but no money in 2003 has grown to over five million participants, raising $760 million for men’s health.
While the idea of a moustache-growing awareness campaign might have once sounded ridiculous (especially for those of us who don’t look awesome in a moustache), the idea behind it is absolutely serious: men are dying far too young. Testicular cancer rates have doubled over the last 50 years, prostate cancer rates will double over the next 15 years, and three quarters of suicides are men. Men’s health care is in crisis and organizations like the Movember Foundation are doing everything they can, even if it means sporting an ugly moustache for a month, to make a change.
This Movember has an even more personal connection for me. Just a few weeks ago, my father finished chemotherapy as part of his prostate cancer treatment. And, not long before that, my brother-in-law underwent an aggressive surgical and treatment regimen to battle his prostate cancer. In the case of my brother-in-law, he was only 49 when diagnosed - proving that prostate cancer does not discriminate based on age.
For both my father and brother-in-law, early detection of their cancer was instrumental in a positive outcome. An annual digital rectal exam by your doctor is an easy method to detect an enlarged prostate, while a prostate-specific antigen (PSA) test can also raise a flag to the potential for prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is much easier to treat before it spreads, is typically slow growing, and early detection has led to a 99% five-year survival rate.
Their treatment also included several prescriptions that could have been easily tracked and managed with Your Health Report. Instead, they relied on prescription labels and tracking their refills manually to get them through. It’s a system that many people rely on and, yet, there are now tools to make it so much easier and reliable. Now, Your Health Report is introducing medication adherence tracking to help people take their therapies when they’re supposed to - and providing alerts if they fall behind, to avoid putting their treatment at risk. These are features I’m sure both my father and brother-in-law would have appreciated during their medical journeys.
When I see moustaches sprouting this month - both the magnificent and the mediocre - it always makes me pause to think of those I’ve almost lost and those we’ve lost too early. Even if you can’t afford to donate to the Movember cause, I hope the sight of those moustaches gets you and others talking about men’s health and how we can work to improve it. Let’s do what we can to stop men from dying too young.
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