Movember 2015: Growing the conversation on men’s health

By in News

With prostate cancer being the second most common cancer in men worldwide, and with suicide rates three times higher among Canadian men than women, the University of Saskatchewan is participating in Movember in an effort to address the need to change the face of men’s health.

Established in Australia in 2003, the idea of creating a men’s fashion statement and bringing the moustache back into style has turned into a multinational charity that is committed to bettering the lives of men all across the globe.

Since then, the Movember Foundation has raised approximately $667 million for men’s health, and is now ranked 72nd out of the top 500 non-governmental organizations in the world.

Additionally, through Movember funding, the world’s very first Prostate Cancer Genome Mapping Project was born, which helped gain understanding about how prostate cancer functions within the human body, as well as funded research through the University of Michigan that identified over 25 different kinds of prostate cancer.

According to Jesse Lee Hayman, director of community engagement for Movember Canada, while there has been significant progress surrounding the issue of men’s health over the last decade, there is still room for improvement moving forward.

“When it comes to men’s health, men are not really comfortable talking about it or taking care of themselves at all. The women’s health movement has been an incredible one; women are taking care of their health way better than men do. We are so far behind in our comfort with talking about things,” Hayman said.

“There needs to be a focus on challenging the definition of masculinity. We teach men not to ask for help, to ‘suck it up,’ and that tough angle absolutely needs to be changed in order to push men’s health forward.”

There are several ways for U of S students to get involved and help support men’s health, including online fundraising by creating an account on Movember.com or attending the Clean and Classy Movember Gala at Louis’ Pub on Nov. 21, hosted by Do Something U of S and the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan. Tickets can be purchased in advance in the Arts Tunnel from Nov. 16–20 for $10 or at the door for $15.

Jon Ravichander, in his final year of pharmacology and physiology at the U of S, initiated the Movember Challenge on campus in 2013. Ravichander emphasizes the importance of discussion surrounding the topic of men’s health.

“The more we talk about it, the more comfortable other men will be talking to their family or their friends, and that’s part of it; we have to go through our struggles, our health problems, with our family and friends,” Ravichander said.

Ravichander also stresses how important it is for men to get checked for diseases such as prostate cancer or doing self-examinations for diseases like testicular cancer.

“You don’t need to go to your doctor, you can check yourself, and you need to be aware of the signs. What we’re trying to do every year is to get people to look at the symptoms, if they know something isn’t right, to get that checked right away. The best cure for diseases is preventing it from even occurring from the beginning,” Ravichander said.

Although Hayman agrees that there are several ways to get involved online and within the community, he insists that simply participating in the conversation can change lives.

“We’ve heard stories each and every year about whether it’s a conversation that makes someone reach out for help or that makes someone realize that they need to get checked, or it’s the Movember community that gives them the confidence to go out to an event even though they have social anxiety,” Hayman said. “So anyone that sees a guy growing a moustache, there’s an opportunity to start a conversation there, and we hope that they do.”

Kay-Lynne Collier