Movember increasing awareness for men’s health

It was back in 2010 when George Cuccovillo was off to England with his son, Alex, to train and earn a chance to play for Division One soccer team, Birmingham Football Club. Many parents dream about their child becoming successful in something they are passionate about, but there was something clouding Cuccovillo’s experience. Before embarking on their journey overseas, Cuccovillo was diagnosed with prostate cancer. Prostate cancer is currently the second most common cancer in men worldwide, with more then 1.1 million cases recorded. “Many of my colleagues and friends have gone through prostate cancer and I never thought I would be the one diagnosed with it, especially in that situation,“ says Cuccovillo.

Awareness becomes crucial; approximately 14 per cent of men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point during their lifetime. Gender is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and even life expectancy. For men, this is not good news because on average across the globe, men die 6 years earlier than woman. Thus, the need to establish a foundation dedicated to the well-being of men had to be founded to help raise awareness for an issue that has been overshadowed for ages.

The Movember foundation is a global charity committed to men living happier, healthier and longer lives. Since 2003, millions have joined the men’s health movement, raising $677 million dollars and funding over $1000 dollar projects focusing on prostate cancer, testicular cancer, poor men’s health and physical activity. In 2003, two friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery met up for a quick beer in Melbourne, Australia, and the idea that sparked Movember was born. Inspired by the moustaches ability to generate a conversation, the crew decided to take things to the next level. Garone stepped up to register the Movember foundation where originally, funds raised would go directly to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA). At the time in 2004, the first Movember cheque was the largest the PCFA had ever received being $54,000. Moving forward, the Movember foundation started receiving the credit they deserved.

 Around Durham College (DC) the awareness for Movember seems to revolve around men supporting the fashionable, or for some, unfashionable mustache. By the looks of it, the idea of a fantastic “Teddy Roosevelt” like mustache seemed to be a fad when awareness for Movember was at an all-time high. By observing the halls of DC many males seemed to support the idea of a lavish beard instead. Bill Chatzibasile, a student at DC believes that growing your “Mo” doesn’t serve a purpose, “Personally, moustaches don’t look good on me, I’m Greek I can definitely grow one, but the ladies around campus don’t like them so what’s the point?” The point is that one in eight men develop prostate cancer and without men supporting the cause, especially as young adults, the issue will remain unrecognized.

The Movember Foundation remains unique as a global connector and brings many leading experts together from around the world. They can then collaborate on solutions that will fundamentally change the way men are treated and supported. Vesta Rahimi, an aspiring cancer research student studying at Ryerson University says, “men’s health has always been brushed under the rug and men prefer to not talk about it, thanks to this campaign in recent years it is finally happening.“ The Movember Foundation became successful using five main strategies for funding: facilitate, understand and advocate, build evidence, mobilize men, and invest in them. Mobilizing men is the strategy that stands out and needs to continue to grow. In 2014, students raised a total of $830 between both DC and UOIT, a number that has dropped drastically compared to previous years on campus. In 2013, both schools raised approximately $4,000 specifically through a group of students raising awareness named ‘Team Movember’ comprising of several students in the HVAC program.

Jennifer Trinh, an employee of the Movember foundation says, “Although we’ve made great progress, more needs to be done to tackle the specific issues that affect men’s health. As the leading global organization committed to changing the face of men’s health, we are positioned to take action, and will continue to promote it outside just the month of November.” After notifying Cuccovillo about these numbers, he was astonished by the results. “My son Alex is in his last year at UOIT, it’s crazy that he hasn’t found a way to get involved, which makes me wonder how much awareness there really is at a campus as big as Durham/UOIT,” says Cuccovillo. With this being said the Movember Foundation is in a position to do everything in its power to help promote the health of boys and men. From a campus perspective, more needs to be done, and understanding family’s history is one of the most powerful tools to understanding your health. If more men on campus were aware of their family’s well being maybe more would take initiative raising money.

From 30 moustaches to millions of unique styles worldwide, over 20 countries partake in Movember with over 700,000 legitimate donors around the world. As of 2014, more then 80 per cent of funds raised go directly to men’s health programs. For patients such as Cuccovillo, these funds were what helped him become cancer free in 2013, the same year that the Movember Foundation happened to be awarded the Social Force of the Year award from GQ magazine.