Razors and cans of shaving cream are likely sitting untouched for many Lethbridge men taking part in Movember as they grow facial hair in support of men’s health.
The Movember Foundation is dedicated to supporting men when it comes to mental health, suicide, prostate and testicular cancer.
To read about how local groups are taking part, click here.
The Prostate Cancer Centre provides wraparound services for urological cancers, predominantly prostate cancer.
While it is not affiliated with the Movember Foundation, the centre does its own fundraising in the month of November.
“Prostate cancer is one of the fastest-growing cancers in men,” said CEO Jeff Davison.
“One in six Alberta men will face prostate cancer in their lifetime. And so when we think about it, that’s our dads, our uncles, our brothers, nephews — and frankly, it could be us.”
The organization is looking to spread awareness for its services to people of all ages, not just those further along in life.
While the majority of those who suffer from prostate cancer are men, the illness affects anyone with a prostate gland, including transgender women and non-binary people.
“(The centre) is really focused around a number of initiatives,” Davison said.
“Focusing on some of our more marginalized communities that do have prostates, we want to make sure that this is a welcoming place for them as well.”
Mental health & suicide
David Gabert, the communication lead for the Lethbridge division of the Canadian Mental Health Association, said while stigma around men’s mental health still exists, barriers are slowly being broken down.
“One of the biggest demographics of people who struggle with mental health and struggle with reaching out for help is men,” he said.
Gabert added that social media has played a huge role in creating easier access to supports, and having a trusted person or multiple people in your circle is a big asset.
“Breaking through stigma is always easier when it’s a friendly face, when it’s somebody that you see on a regular basis,” he said. “Be it a co-worker, be it a peer, be it a friend.”
Local awareness and fundraising initiatives
In order to support these areas of concern, some Lethbridge groups have not only grown their beards and moustaches, but have also organized their own fundraisers.
Hudsons Pub Lethbridge is running an event dubbed “Music MoBingo 2: Return of the Stache” on Thursday evening, where bingo and a silent auction will raise funds for the Movember Foundation.
The bar has set a soft goal of raising around $2,500, but its main goal is awareness after the loss of a friend.
“Right from the get-go, we started talking about it in September. (We made) the executive decision information is what we were focused on,” explained staff member and organizer Kiana Huehn.
They decided to enlist the help of a guest speaker who will be addressing attendees at the event and providing resources on mental health.
“So many people struggle with it, so many people relate to it,” said organizer Celeste Heerema.
“You’re not the only one and you’re not alone. Go get help — it’s not embarrassing.”
The University of Lethbridge Aggie Club has been running a GoFundMe page to raise money for both its group and the Movember Foundation.
“I figured it would be nice to incorporate that into our club and have our club be something bigger than what it is,” explained club member Maia Beekman.
When donating, supporters will be casting their votes for the best beard. Those who select the ultimate winner will win either a photo of that beard or a clipping of hair.
“People have been donating like crazy,” Beekman said. “I was expecting like $5 to $10 per person and we’ve had up to $300 donations, which is really cool.”