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AMHERST – The final days of November are on us and the men of our community either look a little more rugged, a little more sophisticated or in some cases, a little more goofy than they normally do.

It’s been an active Movember for these men.

The month started with a good shave followed by care and consideration how to sport their moustaches of the month. But at the heart of Movember isn’t the mustaches – it’s health.

Registered participants created profile pages on the website and raised funds specifically for prostate cancer research and male mental health initiatives. Nationally, Prostate Cancer Canada – who fund a number of research initiatives – and Movember’s own Movember Foundation are the benefactors.

But it’s not easy money.

“I think if you don’t keep in mind what happens to the money the whole thing falls flat,” Movember Canada’s national director Pete Bombaci says. “We have a global action plan where 200 or so of the top researchers get together and are asked to tackle one issue globally. Our request of them is pick one thing; what is going to be the game changer and go after that.”

It’s a strategy that nets results, Bombaci says. As an example he points to Movember’s challenge last year for researchers to develop a complimentary test to the standard Prostate-Specific Antigent (PSA) Test.

A PSA test, Bombaci says, tells the patient if they have prostate cancer, but it fails to determine if it is aggressive or not. The complimentary test’s goal is to change that, helping patients learn what the road ahead will look like, determine a level of treatment and potentially offer savings to the healthcare system.

“There’s lots of upsides to challenging the researchers like that,” Bombaci says. “But one of the great things about the global action plan is the sharing. Everybody knows what everybody is researching or going to research. Just as an example, one of our researchers said during the global conference call he was about to research a certain thing and one of the U.K. researchers kind of raised his hand – in a teleconference kind of way – and said, ‘By the way, I just did that research and I’ll send you the results.’ It saves time, money and drops duplication, getting us to the quickest results.”

The other agenda Movember focuses on is men and boys mental health, a field often ignored or overlooked, Bombaci says. While there are many groups and organizations out there, funding any one mental health project is new waters for Movember Canada and, like their funding of prostate cancer research, there’s benefit to networking.

Movember Canada is pushing forward with a mental health advisory board through their own Movember Foundation to guide them on their first initiative, Bombaci said. A think tank of 30 to 40 of the top minds in male mental health will present their recommendation before a request for proposals is issued.

“Then it’s open to any organization in the country – or new organization– that is already doing the work or wants to take on the challenge,” Bombaci said. “They’ll be able to apply through a transparent process open to everybody.  

“I think one of the things the Movember members are proud of: fundraisers know the funds are spent efficiently and effectively.”

And rightly so.

As of Nov. 21, Movember Canada has raised $20,889,785, almost twice as much as the United States (Bombaci cautions a U.S. election, Hurricane Sandy and the NHL lockout were tremendous distractions for American Mo Bros and expects 2013 to be the year the U.S. takes the leader board for fundraising).

Internationally, $62,002,371 is destined towards male mental and physical health research coffers, on top of the $170 million raised world wide since Movember as we know it took shape in 2004.


Did you know:

The international movement known as Movember traces its beginnings to 1999 in a South Australian pub. It was there in Adelaide the male patrons created the “Movember Committee” and 80 men grew mustaches to raise money for Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals by selling Tshirts which read “Growing Whiskers For Whiskers.”

While the original committee is said to not be involved in the international movement, they did coin the term Movember and its intent: having a good reason to grow whiskers.

Later, in 2004 in Melbourne, 30 men organized their own Movember fundraiser. This time it would be to raise awareness about prostate cancer and male depression.

The rest is history.

Organizations: Movember Canada, Movember Foundation, Prostate Cancer Canada NHL American Mo Bros Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Geographic location: United States, U.K., Adelaide Melbourne

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