Monday, November 4, 2013

Movember 13

Everyone is familiar with Pink Days and Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Though breast cancer does affect men in many ways, breast cancer has always been very female-centric. Unknown to a lot of people, there is a growing men's health movement, as well, and the most visible form is Movember, when men of all ages shave their facial hair and grow it back in the form of the infamous (and ridiculously popular for some reason) moustache. 

(Or mustache, if you are American. I am that, much to my chagrin, but I will use moustache here because this is Movember, and it wouldn't make sense with the mustache spelling. This particular movement started in Australia where they spell it moustache, so there.)

The men who participate are called "mo bros" and the women are referred to as "mo sistas." The funds raised go towards prostate cancer and testicular cancer research and education, and to support men's mental health

This year Greg decided to join in Movember and shaved his beard. I didn't think I would mind nearly as much as it turns out that I do. I've never seen him clean shaven, but that isn't the problem. I prefer men with facial hair, but that isn't it either. When I took the before and after pics for him, a creepy feeling overcame me. I guess I assumed at the time that it was just early (the sun had not yet risen) and I was tired. The other day I realized what it was: I remember before and after pics being taken before of another newly clean shaven man: my father. 

When he had cancer. 

My subconscious has associated shaving with radiation and chemo therapy. This is an image that has been reinforced by the women I see out and about with scarves wrapped around their heads to hide their baldness. I work in Ann Arbor, just a quick jaunt from U of M's hospital. There are lots of women walking around with scarves wrapped around their heads. Also thin men with freshly shaved faces and thinning hair. 

Now, Greg's hair is far, far from thinning, but he is pretty darn skinny, and with his hair pulled back in a tight ponytail as it usually is, he looks like he doesn't have much. On the rare occasions he lets his hair down, you realize there is a thick enough mane to hide a baby inside, maybe two. It's quite glorious. Greg also isn't sick. But my inner-brain is going, "Wait a minute. Shaved beard, thin face. I know what this is!" And it begins to hyperventilate. 

Now that I've made you feel sad, you should give me a dollar. :) You know, to help prevent other women with husbands, boyfriends, brothers, sons, and friends who are sick cope with that same sinking, horrible feeling in their guts, not to mention the men who have to face this every day.

And if you want to participate in Movember as either a mo bro or a mo sista, join our team! Or make one of your own. It's fun! And goofy! If anyone asks why you have an old timey handlebar on your face, making you look like some Victorian nerd, you can educate them on the overlooked seriousness of testicular cancer, or remind them that men too often have a lower awareness of mental illness than women. 

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