We just don’t hear much about prostate cancer, do we? It lacks the caché of breast cancer, it doesn’t have its own awareness month—and its less deadly, too. Just over thirty thousand men die of prostate cancer each year, compared to over 40,000 women who die annually of breast cancer.
Yet while breast cancer is a bigger killer, the numbers of Americans who are diagnosed each year with either cancer are roughly the same. All those women developing breast cancer have someplace to turn. There are support groups, forums, and lots of breast cancer public awareness and advocacy. Even though breast cancer is a much more serious cancer than prostate cancer, it’s more accepted, too. (It’s crazy to think that some cancers are more “socially acceptable,” but it’s true, it’s a thing.)
Men with prostate cancer just don’t have the same resources available, and the Movember Foundation is looking to change that. I confess I’d never heard of them before I wrote up their latest news, but their bag is raising awareness of prostate cancer by, get this, encouraging men to grow out their moustaches during the month of November.
This year they’re announcing True NTH (not an acronym), a set of personalized programs geared toward supporting and informing men living with prostate cancer. The moustache thing is really just to boost dialogue about prostate cancer, and we think it’s clever. They're not exactly aiming at ice-bucket-level virality, but still. It's one way to help crack the isolation and silence around prostate cancer.
Spirit-wise, the Movember Foundation reminds us a little of St. Baldrick’s, born from a couple of guys sitting at a bar, parlaying a feel-good after work buzz into altruistic action. Travis Garone and Luke Slattery of Melbourne, Australia, created the movement in 2003 by challenging their “mo bros” into paying $10 to grow a moustache for the cause of men’s health and prostate cancer advocacy.
In just ten years, the movement has raised $559 million. The tagline is cheeky: "Changing the Face of Men’s Health." The website features talk of galas, Shave the Dates, and The Running of the Mo’s (whatever that is). There’s no denying that the urgency is lacking—photos of bummed-out guys aren’t going to make anyone open their wallets—but Movember seems to be taking the lemons and making lemonade. We’ll drink to that.