Amherst’s men of Movember

Annual cancer awareness campaign kicks off

Darrell Cole
Published on November 1, 2012

AMHERST – Wade LeBlanc knows the importance of raising funds to fight cancer.

He’s a recent cancer survivor and has joined the Movember cause to raise money to fight the disease that could have taken his life.

“I guess it’s a personal fight for me. I am one of the lucky ones in that I’m now cancer free, but it could very easily have gone the other way,” said LeBlanc, a teacher at E.B. Chandler Junior High School.”

LeBlanc was experiencing pains in his stomach for several months two years ago. At first he was told he had an ulcer, but when the pain returned he was sent for an MRI that revealed a tumour at the junction of the stomach and esophagus.

After undergoing several rounds of chemotherapy and having his stomach and part of his esophagus removed, he is once again healthy and determined to do everything he can to fight cancer.

“It’s something I just felt I had to do,” he said.

While Movember is mainly to promote awareness and raise funds for the fight against prostate disease, LeBlanc and other participants said it will do the same for all forms of cancer.

LeBlanc said he hasn’t had a mustache in nearly 20 years and is not quite sure what his face will look like at the end of the month.

“I’m going for the Hulk Hogan look,” he said. “I’m not sure how it will go. I think the last time I had a mustache was in Grade 9.”

Spring Street Academy phys ed teacher Daren White has waged a long, personal battle against cancer. He has been an avid fundraiser for the Canadian Cancer Society and an avid member of the Relay for Life.

He’s using Movember to raise money for the relay, but also to raise awareness about a disease that attacked him twice.

“This is all about awareness, especially among men,” White said. “We tend not to talk about certain types of cancer and we’re hesitant to go get checked. If even one person goes and has a prostate exam or gets checked for colorectal cancer or testicular cancer then it’s all worth it.”

White said he still mourns for his friend and former principal Barry Kelly.

“Barry knew something was wrong but he waited too long and when he finally went to get checked it was too late,” White said. “There’s not a day that goes by that we don’t all think of him.”

White’s not sure what kind of look he’s going to be sporting in a month. Because of his radiation treatments, he’s not sure if he will have much facial growth, but he’s going to have fun participating.

“Whatever comes is good,” White said. “I’ve never had a mustache before.”

At the end of the month, White and bunch of his co-participants are going to gather at Damaris Spa and Wellness Centre for a shave and some music.

Larry Cove said he has friends who have been affected by prostate and other forms of cancer. He said growing a mustache will be foreign to him.

“It’s been at least 25 years ago,” Cove said. “I’m not even sure I can grow one.”

A number of Amherst and area firms are participating as well, including Archway-Barnes Insurance, Amherst Toyota and IMP Aerostructures.

Adam Small pitched the idea to his co-workers at Archway-Barnes.

“It’s something we can have some fun with and raise some money and awareness about prostate and other kinds of cancer,” said Small, adding he hopes to have a full mustache by the end of the month. “I’m not sure what I’m going to get, it depends on how fast it grows.”

Stephen LeBlanc at Amherst Toyota has always had a goatee and mustache. He shaved both on Wednesday.

“It’s kind of cold,” he said on Thursday. “It’s worth it though. It’s definitely a good cause because everyone knows someone who has been affected by cancer.”

Geoff Phinney, the sales manager at Amherst Toyota, said he lost a friend to cancer several years ago.

“This is the second year I’ve done it. I can’t do a lot to support the fight against cancer, but this something I can do,” Phinney said, adding he’s going for the Juan Montoya look.