It's that time of year again.
Post Halloween, they start sprouting. Facial hair appears on the upper lips of seemingly innocuous-looking men all over.
And while many women in Hamilton support Movember's cause to bring attention to men's health — it doesn't mean they have to particularly like the look.
'Id rather hear 'you have very early stage cancer' over 'you have six months to live'—Geoff Allen, Movember Hamilton
"Supporting awareness of men's health is a no brainer," said Laura Babcock, whose husband is participating.
"But suffering through a month of my husband extolling how glorious his patchy facial hair is and watching all the men I know pretend they are 70s porn stars is almost too painful to bear."
Last year, when Christine Brooks-Cappadocia found out her husband Joe was participating, she was "horrified."
"But by the end of November," she admits, "It didn't look so bad. This year I'm not worried at all."
Then there are women like Jennifer Villamere, who wholeheartedly embraces her husband's decision to grow a mustache for charity.
"I love it," she said. "He grew a fu-manchu mustache when we first started dating."
"This year he's growing the traditional Ned Flanders push-broom style mustache," she said with a laugh. "It's a great visual way to show support for a cause."
That cause — according to Movember Canada's website — is to raise awareness, support and funding for men's health issues, specifically prostate cancer and male mental health.
Funding hasn't been an issue. Last year, an astonishing $42 million was raised in Canada alone. Over $125 million was raised worldwide.
Men's health by the numbers
- The average life expectancy for men is five years less than women (78 years compared to 83)
- 1 in 5 Canadians will experience an anxiety disorder during their lifetime
- The male suicide rate is 4 times higher than that of women
- 2 in 5 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
- 1 in 7 men in Canada will develop prostate cancer and 26,500 new cases will be diagnosed in Canada this year
- Close to 4,000 Canadian men die of prostate cancer annually
Source: Movember Canada
But the real problem, to hear many tell it, is getting stubborn men to open up about health issues and to seek help.
"Guys usually aren't great about their health," Brooks-Cappadocia said. "My dad could be dying and he wouldn't go to the doctor unless my mom drove him."
That's something Geoff Allen, the organizer of Movember Hamilton, agrees with wholeheartedly.
"In a lot of cases, women are the ones making the appointments and pushing them there," Allen said.
Women are integral to the campaign, he says. Many brand themselves "Mo Sistas," to actively support Movember.
They're also essential partners in getting men to take responsibility for their own health, he says.
"All we really want to do is get the idea of men's health out there," Allen said. "We all know how stubborn men can be — and the older the man, the more stubborn he is."
Allen also had to point out how ridiculous it is that many men will "take better care of their cars than themselves."
"They'll get an oil check every 5,000 kilometres, but then won't go to the doctor for five years."
"It's insane," he said. "I'd rather hear 'you have very early stage cancer' over 'you have six months to live.'"
A global phenomenon
As the organizer of Movember Hamilton, Allen acts as the liaison between the city and Movember Canada. Currently, Canada sits atop the global leaderboard for money raised.
"I got involved four years ago before it was really big in Hamilton," Allen says. "Now it's just huge."
Movember started in Australia in 2003. For a look at how it has grown, watch this video:
What started small in Canada has grown into a giant phenomenon. In fact, Canada topped all donations from a country in 2011.
"I remember the first year I grew a mustache I got all these creepy looks — I had to stay away from schools and whatnot," Allen joked. "But it's so high profile now."
There are hundreds of teams participating in the city — from Johnny's Coffee to Sterling Honda to Poppa Leo's on Concession Street.
Mohawk President Rob MacIssac is participating, and so are the Hamilton Professional Firefighters. They had a "clean shave party" on Thursday to get ready, and will be holding a "'stache bash" celebration at the Corktown Pub on Nov. 28.
The Hamilton Bulldogs are on board, too.
Forward Brendan Gallagher is donating $250 for every Bulldogs win and $20 for every Vancouver Giants victory during Movember to the Canadian Cancer Society for prostate cancer research.
He's doing it to remember his grandfather, who died of cancer. "I am proud that in my last two seasons in junior with the Giants, I was able to help raise $15,000 for prostate cancer research," Gallagher said.
"I hope to continue to raise money in honour of my grandfather."
For more on Movember Canada, visit ca.movember.com.