Here’s a spoonful of cement.
Suck it up.
We’ve been telling our men this for years, but is it healthy?
3 months ago, the doctor removed a Stage 1 melanoma from my back. Easily removed (10 external and 4 internal stitches to a depth of 5mm), I now face a 3-monthly check-up for a year, followed by 6 monthly check-ups for 2 more.
Men, we need to take the state of our health seriously. Whether it is our physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual health- we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and use the next month to take a personal inventory of our life.
Suicide is now the leading cause of death for Australian men aged 15-44. And alarming new research suggests that some men choose to take their own life, rather than appear weak by asking for help
This is why I “mo”
The state of men’s health is in crisis. Men are dying on average 6 years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons. Unchecked, prostate cancer rates will double over the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. And across the world, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 75% of all suicides.
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces (supported by their Mo Sistas - female supporters) in Australia and around the world. There is a serious side to the Mo growing. The money raised goes to support and raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health. In 2019, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from across Australia helped raise $34 million for Movember. These donations are used to raise awareness, invest in vital men's health initiatives and run Movember each year.
Why help men live happier, healthier and longer lives?
Movember does this by investing in the following critical areas: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention. In 2019 Australian fundraising and administrative costs totalled just 19.2%, with 13.2% retained for investment in future campaigns. In other words, 67.6% of all Australian funds raised have been devoted to helping men live happier, healthier and longer lives.
The Movember community championed men’s health in 20 countries across the world. Through the growth of 399 441 moustaches (Mo sistas included!), $121.7 million was raised.
The focus for funding, as it was in previous years, is for prostate and testicular cancer research along with mental health awareness campaigns. They are committed to raising awareness on the dangers of physical inactivity and investing in initiatives that encourage physical activity. Physical inactivity is a big deal. It’s the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing 3.2 million deaths globally per year.
I am overwhelmed each year by the donations and the jibes I get from my fellow staff and the students I teach.
The question I am often asked is, “Why?”
Men need to take control of their health. They need to have conversations about their well-being. It is about educating and empowering men when it comes to their health. The casual discussion about moustache growth can easily and effectively turn into a conversation about men’s health.
Each Movember I literally become a walking and talking billboard for men’s health. It creates authentic conversations and the literature Movember post on their website, communicates the health messages in a way that is meaningful to men, their family and their peers.
On a personal level, it gets me to “take a good, hard look at myself” and I become more engaged with my own health. I think about the areas of my physical, social, spiritual and emotional health that need preventative action. According to Movember research, Movember participants spend more time thinking about improving their health, visiting a doctor or discussing their health with others as a result of the Movember campaign each year.
A simple strategy
Movember provides a simple strategy for men. They are strategies we ALL can do to take control of our health. Why not get that special man or special men your life to do the same?
1. Make man time
Stay connected. Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you. Catch up regularly, check in and make time.
70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends. In other words: we’re here for our mates, but worried about asking for help for ourselves. Reaching out is crucial.
2. Have open conversations
You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t have to be the sole solution, but being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be life-saving.
3. Know the numbers.
At 50, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s right for you to have a PSA test. If you are of African or Caribbean descent or have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you should be having this conversation at 45. Know your numbers, know your risk, talk to your doctor.
4. Know thy nuts. Simple.
Get to know what’s normal for your testicles. Give them a check regularly and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel right.
5. Move, more.
Add more activity to your day. Do more of what makes you feel good.
• Take a walking meeting
• Park further away from the station
• Get off the bus a stop or two earlier
• Instead of the lift, take the stairs
• Cycle to work instead of driving
I appreciate the chance to raise the issues, encourage the conversations and weather the storm of ridicule and giggles. I appreciate the chance to talk to the men I work with about their health.
To discuss with other men on staff and with students in my school about the joys and struggles of marriage and raising kids allows me to realise I am not alone. This great cause brings to the forefront of my mind, for one month every year, the fact I am not bulletproof.
Movember fights the good fight. It is changing the face of MY health. It is having an impact. My annual skin check resulted in the early detection of melanoma. The annual blood tests and discussion about my health is well worth it.
Why not encourage the men in your life to head to the doctor and let this year be the start of their annual check-up? I haven’t had my blood tests yet that form part of my annual check-up.
If you notice something, do something!
Now over to you!
Russell Modlin teaches English and Physical Education at a Christian School on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda and they have three children.
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found at www.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html