Having some fun while raising the awareness of men’s health issues was the concept behind the recent “Movember” campaign on campus. First classmen Nick Stapleton (Bellaire, Mich.) and Grant Adams (Niles, Mich.) brought the international movement to Culver Academies as part of their senior service project, but they added a special twist.
Movember originated in Australia as a way to spotlight the need for early detection of prostate and testicular cancer. Since 2003, participating men grow mustaches during the month of November and people vote by making donations in their name. The Movember website calls the mustaches “our hairy ribbons” for awareness and research.
But, since cadets cannot grow mustaches, Stapleton and Adams asked several faculty and staff members to participate. While they couldn’t accept donations, Stapleton and Adams wanted the 15 men to serve as walking billboards for the wellness campaign.
During a presentation Monday evening, the two Culver hockey players said they were initially drawn to the project because of the National Hockey League’s cancer awareness campaign. The idea of Movember appealed to them because it uses a “macho” symbol like the mustache to shed light on some serious men’s health issues.
Seventy percent of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 40 percent say that they rely on their friends.
Prostate cancer will impact one-in-six men, yet the survival rate is 98 percent when it is detected early. But the survival rate drops to just 26 percent when it isn’t diagnosed until later. That is why is important to have regular check-ups, they said.
Testicular cancer has a survival rate of 99 percent when detected early. But when the cancer spreads, it eventually drops to 76 percent. Again, early detection is the key.
Recently the Movember Foundation has expanded its focus to include men’s mental health issues and suicide prevention. The average life expectancy of men is six years less than women, and part of the reason is that 75 percent of all suicides are men. One man commits suicide every minute.
Staying in contact with other people is a key component. So is staying active. The foundation offers five steps to help prevent suicides: Talking, Acting, Listening, Encouraging, and Checking In. The program is designed to help break down the solitary, silent male stereotype.
One statistic that stuck with Stapleton and Adams was that “70 percent of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 40 percent say that they rely on their friends.” In other words, men are willing to support their friends, but not reach out to them when needed.
“Talking saves lives,” Stapleton said.
The overall goal of Movember is to “stop men from dying too young.” The foundation has set a goal of reducing the number of premature male deaths 25 percent by 2030. For more information, go the Movember Foundation.