Why I'm Growing A Mo This November

One of the biggest cancers affecting men had never even entered my consciousness until a couple of Christmasses ago when I got a phone call telling me my dad was going for tests, which ended up with me going with him for his first treatment on that Christmas eve.

Moustaches don't suit me. My head is a perfect sphere and whilst big brown eyes and pinchable cheeks may mean that I've been able to get away with all sorts over the years and people can never stay angry at me, it also means that facial furniture does not suit me in any way, shape or form. Nonetheless, looking like an over-sized Dudley Moore has never stopped me being a vain git, literally everyone who knows me will confirm this.

It was therefore with great trepidation that I decided to participate in Movember. For those of you who have been wandering around asking yourself why there's so much bumfluff sitting atop the lips of passing gents, Movember is a campaign to raise awareness and money for men's health.

Movember have their own mission, 'to change the face of men's health' which you can read about here. However, this blog is about my very personal take on that.

Blokes, we're not always great at talking about issues that effect us. There are some great campaigns out there that such as 'check 'em lads' which do a great job of asking us men to check our 'nads for lumps, but I know I've always been a bit coy about even going to the doctor, let alone chatting with mates or with family.

To be honest, one of the biggest cancers affecting men had never even entered my consciousness until a couple of Christmasses ago when I got a phone call telling me my dad was going for tests, which ended up with me going with him for his first treatment on that Christmas eve.

All of a sudden prostate cancer seemed very, very important. One in nine of us blokes will be diagnosed with it, 10,000 of us die as a result of it each year in the UK. It's the most common cancer for men but I frankly knew bugger all about it.

I didn't know of the flags, I didn't even really consider that he was at an elevated risk thanks to his age and despite us setting the world to rights, talking politics and coming up with improvements on Arsene Wenger's management, we didn't really talk about this type of thing, and I wish we had.

Now I'm going to talk about a man issue, but don't worry, I will not be scaling the Palace of Westminster wearing an Aquaman costume (like I could look any more ridiculous than sporting this 'tache). Men lead lives that are on average four years shorter than women. I'm sure there's some genetic or socio-economic reasons behind this, but I also reckon our reticence to go to the bloody doctor or even think about our health plays a role. Boys don't cry, and we definitely don't make a fuss if we're worried about our physical well-being.

My dad didn't make it, the cancer spread and he ended up fighting on too many fronts. I try not to wonder if there was anything that could have been different and instead am grateful. You don't always appreciate your family (oh Christ, I must have been a particularly ungrateful teenager) but he was a good dad and I have a lot to thank him for - indeed I'm massively grateful for my mum and my sisters too, who are frankly amazing.

So this is the reason I'm doing Movember, because I want everyone who reads this to have a think about men's health, or the health of a man, or men (you kinky lot) around them. Guys, how old are you? Are you at risk? Have you had a check-up of late? Is there some curmudgeonly so-and-so in your family who needs a bit of encouragement to get down the GP?

I am scared shitless of GPs, GP receptionists and indeed the awkward and embarrassing checks GPs carry out, and would rather lie in a sick bed than face one (this is absolutely true). I can't be the only one who's a bit daft about these things so when it comes to health I'm asking you to un-man up. Let's look out for each other a bit and show a bit of encouragement.

We don't have to live in fear or become hypochondriacs, but have a word. Who knows, you might be able to identify a problem before it gets out of hand and if there's no problem, well there's no harm done - why not turn it into a funny anecdote? Lads, talk to your dads. In fact, everyone talk to any older guys in their lives about men's health, or any younger guys, or similar aged ones. Talk to dads, talk to sons, talk to brothers, friends, boyfriends, husbands, just talk about men's health so maybe we can change attitudes just that tiny little bit and get rid of that awkwardness that gets in the way.

Listen, I'm walking around with a furry edifice atop my lip which makes me look like everything ranging from a 'pervert' to a 'sleaze', so if I can walk around publicly humiliating myself like this then the least you lot can do is suffer the slight embarrassment of asking a man you care about if he's had a check-up. Please, just talk to each other.

You can follow my 'tache's progress here and donate there, or even better donate to a friend who is taking part. Either way, and even if you do not donate (money is tight these days, there's no judgment there), just have a think about men's health and look out for one and other a bit. I really, really want people to do this, to talk to each other -- that costs nothing but can help you keep something beyond value.


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