Published on November 9, 2020
The History of Movember
What began as a gimmick to bring back the handlebar, the pencil, and the walrus mustache, has become an international health awareness campaign for prostate cancer and other causes.
Over beers one day in Melbourne, Australia, two friends – Travis Garone and Luke Slattery – talked about raising funds for men’s health issues like prostate cancer, similar to campaigns they had participated in for breast cancer. They convinced 30 of their friends to grow mustaches during the month of November as a way to draw attention to health issues affecting men. The first year they donated the funds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia (PCFA) and later founded the Movember Foundation, raising millions of dollars that go towards research, prevention, and early detection.
Fast forward to today, the Movember movement has broadened its range, focusing not only on prostate cancer prevention and awareness but also on testicular cancer and men’s mental health issues. Around the world, on average, a man commits suicide every 60 seconds.1 This startling statistic is one of the reasons why I am walking 60 miles during the month of November. It’s a way for women to participate while also staying on track with our own health. I joined a team with my gym and it’s been a great way to encourage one another.
Death Brings New Life
I am walking in honor of the men in my life, including my grandfather, who died the year before I was born. I’m the youngest of five children and I always thought I was a “delightful surprise” because of the age gap between me and my siblings; 6, 8, 10, and 12 years respectively! Not that it matters, one way or another, to me. One day when I teased my dad about this he said that I was certainly planned. He was so devastated by the loss of his father in 1975, he talked my mom into bringing one more soul into the world. And, so here I am.
My grandfather, nicknamed “Cap” for Captain, died from complications of prostate cancer and my dad always regretted that I was never able to meet him. He loved kids and Christmas and especially the beach. It is my intention to raise awareness so that more grandfathers can bounce their grandkids on their knees well into old age. What I lacked in grandfathers, my paternal grandmother, Mimi, made up for, living to the ripe old age of 100.
What is Prostate Cancer?
Prostate cancer is the second most common type of cancer among men in the United States, affecting one in every nine men.2 Like most cancers, it can happen sporadically when normal cells become cancerous and start growing out of control. Prostate cancer affects African American and Hispanic men at a disproportionate rate compared to white men.
What are Symptoms of Prostate Cancer?
Common symptoms of prostate cancer can include frequent urination, blood in the urine, sudden onset of erectile dysfunction, and discomfort when sitting, due to an enlarged prostate gland. Risk factors for prostate cancer include being age 65 years or older, having a family history of prostate cancer and certain genetic factors.
Is Prostate Cancer Hereditary?
Some prostate cancers are sporadic and some are inherited through gene mutations such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 (also linked to breast cancer), CHEK2, ATM, PALB2, and RAD51D, RNASEL, HOXB13.3 So you may be wondering if you should be tested for these gene mutations. Maybe. But look at your family history first. Do you have a direct relative (sibling, parent, aunt, uncle) who has or had breast or prostate cancer? Knowing your family history is the first step. If you do get genetic testing done, partnering with a genetic counselor to walk you through the results will be very helpful.
What are Prostate Cancer Treatment Options?
Men with prostate cancer may undergo surgery, radiation, and hormone-blocking therapies. In May 2020, a drug called olaparib (Lynparza) was FDA-approved for men with homologous recombination repair (HRR) gene-mutated metastatic castration-resistant prostate cancer (mCRPC) following progression, who were already taking enzalutamide (Xtandi) or abiraterone acetate (Zytiga). HRR gene mutations occur in approximately 20 to 30 percent of patients with mCRPC. The term castration-resistant means that there has been disease progression despite androgen depletion therapy and may present as either a continuous rise in serum prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, the progression of pre-existing disease, and/or the appearance of new metastases.
Some prostate cancers are slow-growing and do not need treatment right away. Many men benefit from the “watchful waiting” approach and get checked periodically to ensure that the cancer stays put.
Questions to Ask Your Doctor
- What type of prostate cancer do I have?
- What stage is my prostate cancer?
- What clinical trials are available?
- What side effects should I anticipate from treatment?
- Can I have my pathology report to get a second opinion?
- Do you have a patient navigator available to me?
- What is my prognosis?
And if you see a man with a Tom Selleck, Hulk Hogan, or Freddie Mercury mustache this month, give him a nod in support and solidarity.
Was this article helpful? Please share across social media. Looking for more cancer information? Sign up for prostate cancer e-newsletters and we’ll send the latest news right to your inbox.
1Movember. Mental Health.
2Key Statistics for Prostate Cancer. American Cancer Society.
3What Causes Prostate Cancer? American Cancer Society.