Moustaches for Movember at St. Mike's College School

  • November 12, 2010
movemberTORONTO - Jamie Dowell will be growing a moustache this month. But vanity has nothing to do with it.

Dowell, a Grade 12 student at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto, is taking part in the school’s inaugural Movember campaign — a global initiative where men grow moustaches and raise money to increase awareness and funds for prostate cancer.

“Prostate cancer will probably affect at least someone we know in our lives and, being men, it’s something that we should have a basic knowledge about and support it in every way we can,” said Dowell.

Running from Nov. 1 to 30, about 500 students and 50 staff have signed up, said Matt Pagano, a St. Mike’s teacher and co-organizer of the event.

“I think the main impetus was realizing a lot of the boys weren’t familiar with prostate cancer as it existed and as it affects them,” Pagano said. “It’s significant because we’ve got 1,100 boys here. And the numbers dictate that prostate cancer affects one in six men so the odds are that somewhere along the lines some of these boys will have to deal with this.”

But the campaign is also meant to bring awareness to the benefits of an early diagnosis, he said.

“The fact of the matter is 4,400 men die every year of the disease,” said Pagano. “And the reason for that is lack of diagnosis. That lack of diagnosis is often because of discomfort with getting tested and shame and that’s something we’re bringing to light.”

And the campaign is not just for students and staff, said principal Terence Sheridan. Alumni have also been challenged.

“We have an alumni function on Nov. 26 — our turkey roll — so hopefully when we do that night, there will be a few more men who will have changed their appearance to draw awareness to prostate cancer.”

But the students have another incentive, said Sheridan. School policy is that all students have to be clean shaven, a policy being broken for the campaign.

“This is stepping outside our box to do this so there was that incentive for students,” he said.

Dowell believes this obvious change is one of the reasons the campaign will be effective.

“It’s one of those things everybody will notice because you’re not usually allowed to have any facial hair whatsoever.”

The campaign started in Australia in 2004 and has since spread to Canada, the United States, Finland, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, Spain, South Africa and the Netherlands.

Last year’s Canadian campaign was the second largest in the world behind Australia, with 35,156 men coming together to raise $7.8 million for Prostate Cancer Canada.

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