If a man in your life is suddenly growing a moustache, there’s probably a good reason for it. The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) is running its annual “Grow-vember” event, to increase awareness of cancers that effect men, and raise funds for research, support, and prevention initiatives.
“It’s been going for at least 10 years,” says Jennifer Harbaruk, coordinator, annual giving of the CCS BC and Yukon division. “We have some real cutting-edge initiatives on prostate cancer; ongoing projects that we provide funding for.”
The event is designed to encourage men to pay attention to their “below the belt” health, especially prostate and colorectal cancer. “We know that men generally don’t like to talk about their health, and that’s why it’s even more important to highlight this campaign,” says Harbaruk. “Prostate cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Canadian men.”
In 2016 it is estimated that 21,600 Canadian men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer, and about 4,000 will die from the disease. “We’re trying to create awareness around prostate and colorectal cancer,” says Harbaruk. “Men are very quiet about health issues, but more and more men—especially young men who’ve been on a cancer journey—are more willing to speak about it.”
Thanks to generous donations, research, and improved treatments over the years, the death rates for both cancers have been declining. Between 2003 and 2012, the death rate for prostate cancer declined by 3.1 per cent, and between 2004 and 2012 the death rate for colorectal cancer declined by 2.3 per cent.
Men are encouraged to take part in Grow-vember by registering online at http://convio.cancer.ca/goto/growvember. An online fundraising page at the site can be distributed through social networks, allowing anyone to make a contribution toward men’s health designated cancer research projects via donation through a credit card at a secure site.
After that, men taking part in Grow-vember simply have to set aside their razors until the end of the month. “The moustache becomes the ribbon for men’s health, and those spotted touting one are showing their commitment to the cause.”
Harbaruk says that 40 per cent of the funds raised by the CCS goes to cancer research, 40 per cent goes to support programs, and 20 per cent goes to prevention initiatives. “Diagnostic tools have become easier for prostate cancer,” she notes. “We’re making strides with ultrasound techniques that gives a preliminary picture. And we’re trying to get men more proactive about their health.”