For some people, November is the month of Thanksgiving and the first Christmas preparations. For others, it is the start of the cold weather, short days, and long nights. However, November is also the month for the men. Why is it so? Because November is the month to spread awareness about prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
In 2004, the Movember Foundation started the Movember movement. The aim of the movement is simple: men, let your facial hair grow. The un-grooming can then be a conversation starter on cancer. The lockdown is a great excuse to participate for those worried about their looks, as most of us are working from home.
Why the facial hair? It is a masculinity symbol, for a masculine cancer. It is also about embracing your hair, for all of those who lose their hair because of disease. Let your facial hair grow, and when asked about it, talk about cancer, prevention, early detection. Plant the seed, and hope people will water it.
How can women participate ? Feel free to let your own body hair grow, but it will probably not have the same reach. What you can do is educate yourself on the subject and talk about it to every man in your life. Remind your loved ones to talk to their doctor about it.
In 2020, it can still be hard to talk about cancer prevention, and taking care of oneself. We all think we are doing everything right, until we discover that the symptoms we ignored were actual warnings. It can be hard to detect what is normal from what we should worry about. That is why prevention and conversations are so important. If you have someone around you that went, or are going through such a hard time, and they are willing to talk about it, start the conversation. It will help you understand them better, it will educate you, but it will also demystify the disease. Sometimes, it feels good to talk about something hard. It makes it real, and it brings people together.
Another place to start is your own body. Get to know it. Look at it. Notice the little changes. Take care of it. It could save your life. I turned 25 last month, and I know that going forward, I will have to check my breast every month. My grandma, my mother-in-law and my husband’s grandmother all had breast cancer. I know how important it is to take ten minutes each month to make sure everything is normal. It is true with every part of your body. If October is breast cancer awareness month, November is testicular cancer awareness month. As Movember put it, “Know Thy Nuts”.
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Did you know that testicular cancer is the most common cancer among men between 15 and 39 years old ? Or that you should start talking to a doctor about prostate cancer starting at 50? Prostate cancer is the second most common cancer in Ireland. Cancer is the biggest killer in Ireland. Detection is key, and it starts with you, and a conversation. However, it is also good to remember that most people beat cancer and live long years after that.
What to do to avoid getting sick ? Well, sometimes there is nothing that can be done. Yet, the way you live your life can have an impact on your body. We all know that smoking is bad for you, the people around you, and the planet. Maybe it is time to quit. Alcohol is another common cause for cancer. The occasional glass of wine or beer is fine, but drinking a lot, and often, is an issue. If you are worried about your alcohol consumption, talk to someone about it. It is also important to eat various foods, and to stay active. If you are anything like me and that sport just isn’t in your blood, no need to run a marathon every year, but a walk in the neighborhood or a solid fifteen minutes of dancing everyday can only be good for you.
Being careful doesn’t mean being paranoid. Not everything your body does is a cancer symptom. Educate yourself on the subject, take part of prevention campaigns, or awareness events. Donate to research if you can. Grow your facial hair, or any hair, to show your support. Start the conversation. Ask your family and friends if they are being checked when they should. Take care of yourself and the people you love, that’s how you save a life.
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