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My Movember Moustache Memoir

Credit: Movember USA

This month, our male writers took part in Movember—the annual event involving the growing of moustaches during the month of November to raise awareness of men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer and other male cancers, and associated charities. By challenging our writers to grow their moustaches in support of raising awareness for men’s health issues, we want to get the conversation going and spread the news on the global organization’s commitment to changing the face of men’s health.

Men’s health issues never really grabbed my attention before I turned thirty–two. I’ve been blessed with good health most of my life. I’ve only broken one bone in thirty–two years. The flu hits me pretty hard in the winter for a few days and then I’m back on my feet. Compared to my girlfriend and some of my family members, I’m the picture of health. My last physical revealed a bit of a cholesterol issue (I love my catfish and chicken wings) but nothing that required medication. In my day job as a customer service advocate for a major pharmaceutical company, I spend hours each day speaking with people who are on a legion of medications to correct any number of issues that cropped up in their youth or later in life.

Many of the men I speak to credit hard living in their youth for the medications they take now. Looking at those long, long lists of medications on a daily basis made me swear I’d never become one of those people.

Women in the United States are outliving men by at least five years, 81 to 76. According to Business Insider, black males lag slightly behind white males at 74 years of age. This information still didn’t force me to take notice, even as I learned that heart disease is the number one killer of blacks in America today. My fiancée has really been on me to eat better and exercise more while I’m still young but I find reasons not to. I make noises about not wanting to eat leaves and twigs for the rest of my life. I tell myself that a cloudy day is best enjoyed indoors with a good book and a hot cup of tea.

Participating in Movember made me rethink my lifestyle.

The current version of Movember began in Australia in 2004 in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia as a vehicle to draw attention to men’s health issues such as prostate cancer and depression. According to the website for the American Cancer Society, prostate cancer is the second leading cause of death in American men behind lung cancer. Each year, nearly 30,000 men will die of prostate cancer. Those numbers sobered me and made me think of my father, who is now in his mid–fifties. Prostate cancer is usually diagnosed in a man’s early to mid–sixties.


My ‘stache came back! Only took forever.

I carried these thoughts into my first week of Movember, shaving off my goatee on October 31st, right before heading to a friend’s Halloween party. Every two years or so, I like to shave my face completely. It’s always jarring to see myself without any facial hair because I remember my pre–teen years when my only goals in life were to get good grades and grow a moustache. The first few days of the month, my upper lip remained bare. Disturbingly bare. I started to question the wisdom of this challenge. Then on day seven, my old friend made his reappearance, practically overnight.

None of my co-workers noticed that I’d even shaved until day nine.

My cubicle partner at work asked me why I shaved and we had a discussion between calls about Movember, its meaning, and how it draws attention to men’s health issues.

But isn’t it the same as No–Shave November?” she asked.

There are similarities. No–Shave November participants are raising awareness by not shaving at all and donating that money toward cancer awareness charities. Movember participants are still shaving and grooming our facial hair to raise awareness as well.

But how does it help?

I explained to her that many cancer patients aren’t able to grow facial hair once they start chemotherapy. Awareness must begin before the disease becomes an issue, not when the disease is in progress. She admitted that she didn’t really understand the difference but she understood the sentiment, which was my plan from the start. A few other co–workers asked questions as well and I directed them to a few of the websites I reviewed as well.

This is as good as it gets.

I didn’t trim my moustache for the first twenty days of the event. I wanted to know how deep it could grow before it drove me nuts. Later on day twenty, the stray hairs, the bushiness, and the lone gray hair on my upper lip drove me to distraction.  I trimmed it down a tad until my nerves calmed. My fiancée doesn’t care for it but, now that I’m used to it, I like it more than my goatee. There’s less to manage and I love how smooth my face is after I shave.

There is still a week left in November but I’m thinking I’ll keep growing my moustache after this. I have to shave a bit longer but I like the look. My fiancée requests a handlebar–sytle ‘stache to match her favorite mug, and I’m considering it, though thus far it’s not growing particularly long. For now, I’ve got my moustache, my lady, my health and my desire to write propelling me forward. I once dreaded November for years because the end of the year made me feel unaccomplished and uninspired.

Now I look forward to November because it’s a chance to start over again.

Did you take part in Movember? 

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2 Comments on “My Movember Moustache Memoir”

  1. James H November 24, 2014 at 2:28 pm #

    Thank you for the reminder. I can’t believe it is almost December


  1. Movember Round-Up! | The Hudsucker - November 28, 2014

    […] DeShawn Blankenship: My Movember Moustache Memoir Men’s health issues never really grabbed my attention before I turned thirty–two. I’ve been blessed with good health most of my life. I’ve only broken one bone in thirty–two years. The flu hits me pretty hard in the winter for a few days and then I’m back on my feet. CONTINUE READING… […]

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