Commencement of Movember Campaign to Promote Men's Health Awareness
Beard hair covered the floor at Fire Station 30 in Montreal's Mile End Wednesday as the crew prepared to let their facial hair grow for Movember.
"It sparks discussions about how we can improve our self-care," said Assistant Fire Chief Dave Waterhouse, observing from the sidelines, surrounded by a fire engine and a table of pastries and hot coffee.
Also present in the crowd was former Montreal Canadiens player Gilbert Delorme, wearing his #27 jersey and a clean shave.
"Well, it's going to be quite long by the end of the month," he said with a smile. "My beard is quite sturdy."
Movember is a relatively new but widely embraced campaign. Throughout November, individuals across the globe will grow out their beards and mustaches (the latter representing the "M" in "Movember") to raise awareness about prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is the most prevalent cancer among men in Canada. Every day, approximately 70 men receive a prostate cancer diagnosis, and 13 lose their lives to it.
"It is a slowly progressing tumor. It can be detected through screenings," explained Dr. Eduardo Franco, a professor of cancer epidemiology at McGill University.
He emphasizes that early detection is key in treating the disease. Everyone with a prostate should get checked, but certain groups face a higher risk.
Those with a family history of prostate cancer are at the greatest risk, along with individuals who are obese, tall, have inherited gene mutations, and those of African and Caribbean descent.
"Black men have a significantly higher risk compared to other ethnicities," stated Dr. Franco, adding that the cancer can also be more aggressive for these patients.
"In my case, I was diagnosed at 48," shared Laurent Proulx, president and CEO of PROCURE, an organization raising awareness about prostate cancer.
"I was an accomplished triathlete and marathon runner," he added.
He considers himself fortunate to have detected it early during a routine screening. He underwent surgery to remove the cancer and five months later, he ran the Boston Marathon.
He believes prostate cancer screenings should be as routine as changing winter tires—an activity that men are much more willing to do.
"If they see a warning light on their dashboard," he explained, "the first thing they do is call the garage to fix it. They don't do the same for their health."
"We, as men and young men, have been brought up with the notion that we can't show emotion. We are encouraged to keep our feelings hidden," said Evan Connor from the Movember organization. "Growing a mustache is their way of saying 'I'm here for you, brother.'"
This year, organizers want young men and women to have more conversations about their physical and mental well-being.
Connor suggests thinking of November as a month to openly discuss depression and suicide.
He believes that checking in on one another is fundamental to maintaining a healthy community.
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