It’s that time of year again — when men decide to grow their mustaches in support of Movember, a campaign raising funds and bringing attention to prostate and testicular cancer, along with men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Lethbridge residents are still motivated to help support the cause.
This year, Lethbridge resident Aaron Hernandez is participating for the first time as he’s raising funds for testicular cancer after finding a lump himself last month.
The lump wasn’t cancerous, but just the scare was enough to inspire him to to raise funds for men’s health and awareness about self-exams and early detection.
“It was probably the worst week of my life.
“Just waiting between the doctor’s appointment and finding out my results, because you just kind of assume the worst. They say only about four per cent of all lumps are actually cancerous,” Hernandez said.
He’s now partnered with local non-profit Bo Smith & Co, which is making embroidered clothing to raise funds for both Movember and children fighting cancer after their two-year-old daughter was diagnosed.
Together, the pair have been making limited edition moustache sweaters with the profits going to both causes.
Brendan Attrill is another local man who is getting involved this year after tragedy struck and he unexpectedly lost his uncle to suicide.
Attrill says the months after were some of the hardest and darkest moments of his life, but he knew somehow, someway he needed to honour his late uncle and do his part to help end the stigma surrounding mental health, especially in men.
An idea came to him just days before the first anniversary of his uncle’s death.
“I just knew there was something I could do to help and make this feel less painful for others,” Atrill said.
“It was four days before his one year and I was in the shower. I just had this idea: ‘Hey, let’s start a brand, a brand based around mental health,'” he added.
Attrill said he then rushed out of the shower with excitement. He didn’t even have a name yet, but got to work on the brand immediately, first by building a website and creating a social media presence.
He said he worked hard to find the perfect design and with everything that had to be done, he wanted to debut the clothing brand by the anniversary date.
Atrill named the brand For the Ones, which has raised thousands of dollars for various mental health initiatives since its inception just a couple of months ago.
“The brand has really taken off, I’ve been able to donate almost $2,000 to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA),” Attrill stated.
“Then we ran a special shirt design one month for the Yellow Ribbon Suicide Prevention Program and we were able to raise hundreds of dollars for their program during suicide awareness/prevention month, and now we’re in my favourite month: Movember,” he said.
Attrill said he plans to go all out this year with a personal goal of raising $1,000 for the Movember campaign.
“I’m just a small town Alberta boy trying to change the face of mental health.”
Lethbridge College is still putting on its Muscles for Movember campaign.
In past years, organizers would have students lift weights with a bench press in the centre core area of the college. Tanner Marcer, events and communications coordinator with Lethbridge College, said the event would not help participants to think about getting physically active, but also active in getting themselves checked.
Students, faculty and friends of the college are being encouraged to do push ups at a rate of $1 per 10 push ups.
Videos are being accepted at firstname.lastname@example.org, or through its social media channels on Facebook @MYLCSA and Instagram: @lc_sa.
According to Marcer, the institution has been organizing annual fundraising events for the Movember campaign for more than a decade now.
“In the last couple of years you’d get to see a lot of students rocking mustaches down the hall and you’d get to know instantly who is involved in it and start a conversation right away.”
He says the college would normally do a couple of events, but this year its initiative has been completely focused online due to the pandemic.
“We may not be doing the grand things we do inside the centre core of our college, but we’re doing the push-up contest,” Marcer explained.
“People can send in their videos of them doing push ups and we’ll make a contribution,” he added.
A group from the faculty of Education at the university is growing moustaches and raising funds as well and they’re calling themselves the Faculty of Edumocation.
The group set a goal of raising $7,500 and it’s already raised more than half of that amount.
“We really realize that health and wellness needs to be a discussion we engage with as professionals. It needs to be something we engage in as a society,” said Aaron Stout, instructor for the faculty of Education at the University of Lethbridge.
“Movember gives us a reason to stop and talk to the significant people in our life, to see how they’re doing, in a real meaningful way,” Stout said.
Stout says those people can be our fathers, brothers, husbands or friends, and they play numerous other important roles in our lives, which he says is all the more reason to make sure their health is being looked after, despite how difficult it may feel to have a discourse on the topic.
If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.
If you are in need of support, you can call the Health Link at 811 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868 all offer ways of getting help if you or someone you know may be suffering.