Phil Junnila says the first time his grandson saw him without a moustache, he cried.
Four years later the youngster is getting used to the annual Movember rite of passage as his grandfather shaves his pride and joy in support of prostate awareness.
More than 24,000 men in Canada this year will be diagnosed with prostate cancer. More than 4,400 will die from the disease, which if caught early enough, can be treated.
“That’s why we’re trying to get the information out there, to please get checked. Early detection is our first line of defence. From there, there are medications, continual surveillance, there’s surgery, whatever is needed,” Junnila said.
“But we really need to find it first. If you don’t know you have it, you can’t work with it.”
A survivor, he considers himself one of the lucky ones. Not everyone is so fortunate.
“I’ve lost a few friends this year and a couple the year before. I hope not any more, but the reality is that I will,” Junnila said.
“My prostate cancer, the cancer part of it is done, but the fallout from the cancer is that my body has been ravished in various ways. So the battle really does continue.”
Movember campaign organizer Jon Hendel has even more reason to attempt to grow a moustache to raise both awareness and money to fight the disease.
“I’ve always done this more for the fun of it and knowing there’s a benefit at the end, but personally it’s affected me with my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer,” said Hendel. “The data and the knowledge we’ve gained from Movember the past three years has helped me this year.”
This campaign will be aided by both the Lakehead Thunder Wolves and I Heart Thunder Bay. Both organizations will be selling moustache-themed t-shirts in support of the cause.
Hendel said the campaign isn’t just about raising money, it’s about creating a dialogue and convincing men to talk about the disease, which affects about one in every seven men.
“When I have this horrible attempt at growing a moustache on my face and it’s just this horrid lip blanket that I have, it creates this dialogue where people say, ‘What are you doing?’” Hendel said.
“After that conversation happens we can talk about issues that normally men don’t talk about, including mental health issues. That’s a new aspect of this year’s campaign.”
Mayor Keith Hobbs was the first to have his facial hair shaved, his goatee carefully whittled away by a stylists from Man Cave Salon and Day Spa.
Hobbs said he’s gone for a biopsy and discovered his own PSA levels are high, one of the indicators prostate cancer might be present or arise.
“I think men are shy about their health issues and they just need to get that help, go to the doctor and get that checked out,” he said.
“Women have issues with breast cancer and they don’t mind talking about it. Men are a little different. So we need to get the word out to men.”
Proceeds go to the Canadian Movember Foundation, which in turns funds awareness campaigns and the Prostate Cancer Canada Network and the Canadian Mental Health Association.
For more information, visit www.movember.com.
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