Growing Awareness: PNWU Movember
Recently, as I ventured around Butler-Haney Hall, I couldn’t help but to notice a concerning trend.
Our faculty appeared dedicated, as always, passing through the halls with vigor and determination. Staff were alert and attentive, waving and shouting their greetings as I walked by their offices. Students were warm and welcoming, quick to smile and say hello if their noses weren’t buried in thick texts or eyes locked on information-laden laptop screens. Even Ben Hittle, our Director of Security, was his typical friendly self, breaking his expression of vigilance to offer a kind-hearted, “Hey Paul!”
But something was off. Something stuck out… quite literally, in fact. It appeared as though a trend had taken hold of our proud campus.
The smiles I’d become accustomed to were present, but they were not the same. They were shadowed. Insulated. Framed and perched upon.
Handlebars. Cookie dusters. Crumb catchers. Caterpillars. Lower brows. Face lace. Upper lipholstery.
Mustaches were everywhere. My freshly-shorn upper lip curled in wonderment.
“Are we offering classes on old time barbering techniques?” I began to wonder. “Is Yakima planning some kind of Tom Selleck celebration? Has there been a boom in the video-game character/plumber job market?” As my mind raced, a familiar voice rang out from behind me.
“Nice job with the Dr. Showalter podcast!”
I recognized the voice before I even turned around. In fact, it belonged to a former guest on the podcast, and a frequent promoter of mental health awareness around campus, second-year PNWU student Logan Noone. I turned to greet him, and quickly found myself staring down the bristles of a lamb-chop-sideburns-into-the-horseshoe combination mustache that widened my eyes and shifted my response.
“You too, Logan?” I said. He chuckled, but clearly had no idea what I was talking about. “I appreciate the kind words,” I continued, “but I have to ask: what’s up with the mustaches?”
A smile emerged from below his dental drapes. “It’s Movember, dude! Where’s your ‘stache!?”
Movember, I came to learn, is an annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men's health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and men's suicide. According to Movember.com, 5,542,507 “Mo Bros and Mo Sistas” have taken part in the cause since 2003 (and counting), which has helped to fund 1,200 men’s health projects since 2003 and donated $50 million to prostate cancer research teams since 2007.
Logan insisted that I not feel bad for my ignorance. In fact, as he explained, he too was unaware of the significance of the month-long celebration, having just recently learned that growing out his mustache could also be used to raise awareness for mental health issues.
As our conversation continued, I found myself increasingly surrounded by upper-lip plumage. There were even female students with fake mustaches! I began asking questions, and by the time I left BHH, I had a new understanding of men’s health, and a new reason to put down my razor next November...
Christopher T. Walker, OMS I
To me, Movember is all about raising awareness about men’s mental health. As “dudes,” we’re supposed to be strong and tough and not let anything break us. But the reality is, we’re just as affected as women when it comes to mental health and health in general.
It’s time for us to put our foot down and start making a change. Men (and women) need to know that it’s ok to speak up and reach out for help when you need it and Movember is doing just that.
Erik Willis, OMS II
Movember is important to me because as a future physician it will be imperative to be able to talk to male patients about their mental health.
There is a culture and stigma that exists in which expressing and acknowledging mental health issues, or health problems in general, is a sign of personal weakness. Movember is a movement to break down those barriers and allow for conversations about men’s health. Our poor mental health in particular puts an enormous burden on our communities, coworkers, friends, and family.
Movember allows me to start to have those difficult conversations with friends and loved ones, and even strangers, that can hopefully in the future lead to the ability to help my patients.
Kyle Bogusz, OMS II
By wearing a mustache this November I am telling the world that I’m not perfect. While I am hiding my upper lip behind a shield of bushy, golden hair, I will not be hiding my pains, feelings, and insecurities.
Movember is a time to tell men that being vulnerable does not make us weak, it instead makes us stronger, happier, and healthier. Movember is a time to remind men that they need to reach out if they’re feeling down and they need to visit the doctor if they’re feeling sick.
Together, our lips are warmer and our futures are brighter.
Kyle Moehlin, OMS II
Participating in “Movember” gives me an opportunity to celebrate being a man; at the same time, encourages other men and advocates for men’s mental, spiritual and physical health. Wearing my mustache for the month of November is my way of showing appreciation for the men in my life.
Ben Hittle, PNWU Director of Security
No shave November takes me back to when I heard the bad news that my Dad had been diagnosed with late stage colon cancer shortly after he retired.
It reminds me to get my PSA blood work done. It makes me remember when my next colonoscopy is, as I’m on the every 5 year program with my family history.
It makes me happy to be clean shaven again in December!
Richard Arroyo, OMS II
When I see a glorious mustache, I think to myself – ‘That mustache represents all my hopes and dreams, for I too am a man of whiskers.’
Yet there is hesitation to celebrating men and Movember. The argument is that society is already hyper-focused on men, that this is a man’s-world we are living in, and so why dedicate another month exclusively to men? We are students of medicine. Half of our patients will likely be men. Perhaps a quarter of them will have whiskers.
Movember, to me, represents a month focused on one particular section of health, men’s health, and I celebrate it accordingly – plus it gives me an excuse to grow out the ‘stache.
Logan Noone, OMS II
I didn’t realize that Movemeber included men’s mental health; I thought it was just for prostate and testicular cancer. I don’t know when they added in mental health, but that’s really my bread and butter. That’s why I felt so motivated this year to participate and raise awareness for all of these issues.
Obviously, what’s most applicable to me is mental health because of my experiences with bipolar disorder. Because we are medical students, we’re susceptible to mental health issues due to the stress we’re under. The career we’re going into has high rates of substance abuse and suicide, so I think it’s really important to raise awareness when we can on these issues.
I love my new mustache. My wife hates it. So it’s a fun little balance. Thankfully we already got married two months ago.
I’ve told my wife, “Now I’m going to be ruining every Thanksgiving for the rest of time, because I’m always going to participate in this great cause.”
Pacific Northwest University of Health Sciences