By Stacy Cafagna Pollard


It started innocently enough, perhaps the same way many great ideas are born: two friends, a couple of beers, a simple question. Where had the mustache gone, these friends wanted to know, and could they bring back this once fashionable trend, they joked. Men, beer, fashion, mustaches—not your typical ingredients of a contest but, alas, a challenge was sparked.

Shortly after this ordinary gathering at a quiet pub, Travis Garone and Luke Slattery launched a quest to bring back the mustache. Inspired by a friend’s mother who was fund raising for breast cancer, they decided to put a charitable spin on their campaign, and focus on men’s health issues. “Are you man enough to be my man?” they challenged their friends. Thirty guys accepted.

“They designed rules and guidelines (which are still in place today) and agreed to charge $10 to grow a ‘Mo’,” states the Movember Foundation’s website. The premise: Start the month of November with a clean-shaven face and do not shave again for the entire month.


01 Start clean shaven on Nov. 1.

02 Grow (and groom!) your    mustache for 30 days.

03 Use the power of the mustache to create conversations about men’s health.

04 Become an official Mo Bro or Mo Sista at, where you can enlist team members and track your fundraising efforts.

That first challenge was in 2003 in Melbourne, Australia. Although no funds were formally raised that year, the original group of 30 “grew their mustaches with such enthusiasm” that the concept was formalized the next year and, soon enough, a worldwide movement, known as Movember, was born.

“Movember is the global men’s health charity where men grow and women support the mustache during November. Movember is about bringing back the mustache (Mo), having fun, creating conversations and awareness, and raising funds for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health problems.”

In the second year of the campaign, the men of Movember, still local to only Australia, raised around $40,000. But it took just a handful of years before the concept went global. In November of 2007, a surplus of mustachioed men could be found in six countries, including the United States for the first time. To date, the Movember Foundation has raised more than $550 million and funded 800 men’s health projects. There are more than 4 million “Mo Bros and Mo Sistas,” as participants are called, from 21 different countries.

“Growing just a mustache in Movember symbolizes a commitment to improving the state of men’s health,” says Mark Hedstrom, U.S. director for Movember. The foundation’s website continues, “We’re committed to changing the face of men’s health and won’t stop growing as long a serious men’s health issues remain.”


Changing the face of men’s health became the motivation behind the men of Movember, with specific focuses on prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health.

“Now, more than ever, is a critical time to raise funds and awareness for men’s health,” notes Hedstrom. “Together we are making a change and reducing stigmas so that men can take action for their physical and mental well-being.”

Who knew that the change agent for men’s health awareness would be millions of mustaches? Can issues as important as cancer and mental health really be taken seriously, especially when discussing them with men sporting seriously overgrown mustaches? Movember’s success and the sheer amount of dollars raised speaks for itself.

And as I’ve learned personally from the males I love most in my life, humor is often the best way to tackle the most somber issues. And, seriously speaking, we need the men in our lives healthy, taking proactive roles in their well-being. So if growing a big mustache sparks a conversation and even prompts a more healthy and aware husband, son, father, brother or friend, I’m all for that. 

Speaking of conversations, here’s some facts to spark those discussions.

Prostate Cancer Quick Facts

What exactly is the prostate, you ask? It’s part of the male reproductive system, which has the main function of producing fluid that protects and enriches sperm.

After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men, and it often can be successfully treated. This year approximately 233,000 new cases will be diagnosed, according to the American Cancer Society, with close to 30,000 deaths.

“Although prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in American men (behind lung cancer), most men diagnosed with prostate cancer do not die from it. In fact, more than 2.5 million men in the United States who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer at some point are still alive today.” (Source: American Cancer Society)

Of particular concern is that prostate cancer can develop without men experiencing symptoms in the early stages, making it important to be aware of risk factors.

Prostate Cancer Risk Factors

Gender: prostate cancer only affects men.

Age: the older a man, the more likely he is to be diagnosed with prostate cancer. More than 65 percent of all prostate cancers are diagnosed in men over the age of 65.

Family history: a man with a father or brother who developed prostate cancer before 60 is twice as likely to develop the cancer.

Ethnicity: African American men are more likely to develop prostate cancer and are nearly 2.5 times as likely to die from the disease.

Lifestyle: poor diet and lack of exercise.


Prostate Cancer Symptoms

– Urinary issues

   (slow flow, hesitancy, frequency, urgency)

– Blood in the urine or semen

– Reduced ability to get an erection

– Painful ejaculation


Testicular  Cancer Quick Facts

The American Cancer Society states approximately 8,820 new cases of testicular cancer were reported for 2013, with about 380 deaths. This cancer largely afflicts young men between the ages of 18 and 40, but about six percent of cases occur in children and teens.

Although the causes of testicular cancer are unknown, it is one of the most curable forms of cancer. Like prostate cancer, men may experience few or no symptoms of testicular cancer, so understanding risk factors is important.

Testicular Cancer Possible Risk Factors

• Undescended testes at birth

• Family history (father or brother with testicular cancer)

• Previous occurrence of testicular cancer (Around one in 25 men who have had cancer in one testicle are likely to develop cancer in the other testicle at some stage)

• Down syndrome may also increases  a man’s risk

There is no known link between testicularcancer and injury to the testicles, sporting strains, hot baths or wearing tight clothes.


Testicular Cancer Symptoms

• Swelling or a lump in either testicle (usually painless)

• A feeling of heaviness in the scrotum

• Change in the size and shape of the testicles

• Aches or pain in the lower abdomen or groin

• A sudden build-up of fluid in the scrotum

• Pain or discomfort in a testicle or in the scrotum

• Enlargement or tenderness of the breast tissue

Because often the first sign of this cancer is a lump on the testicle, the American Cancer Society recommends a testicular exam as part of a routine cancer-related checkup. Regular self-examination is important for young men, especially those at higher risk of developing testicular cancer. Being familiar with the size, shape and usual level of lumpiness can help you determine if something is not quite right.

Please click here for the American Cancer Society’s step-by-step guide on self-examination.


Mental Health Quick Facts

Mental health and well-being is an extremely broad topic, but the Movember Foundation has highlighted five areas which most affect men: depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis/schizophrenia and eating disorders.

“Mental health problems in men can often go undetected or untreated,” states the foundation. “Men may not be able to recognize or confidently articulate the signs and symptoms they experience. There is additional pressure due to associated stigmas (shame and embarrassment) preventing them from taking action and accessing mental health services.”

If you are concerned about these or any other aspects of your health, please see your medical care provider. Health facts and figures were compiled from Movember and the American Cancer Society’s website,

Shaveless in San Diego

At press time, the official Movember San Diego page reports 2,725 team members are letting it grow to the tune of nearly $72,000 raised–with most of the month still left!

Local Mo Bros have left touching reminders of the motivation behind their mustaches:

“For my cousin … who practices community medicine and has one of the biggest hearts I know of giving his time, talent and treasure to others. He is on the front lines of this fight. Let’s beat this! Let’s do it!” – Sam, first year participant (national fundraising ranking is No. 10)

“A dear family friend fought a long, hard, nine-year fight with prostate cancer and passed away in 2013. You will always be remembered! Rest in peace! Here’s to advances toward a cure and raise awareness of men’s health!” – Chad, 3-year Mo Bro

“My goal is to continue to bring awareness and share information regarding men’s health. Since my dad’s diagnosis of prostate cancer, I have been an advocate by supporting and going strong during Movember. No conversation or audience is too small to discuss and inform men and their loved ones about prostate cancer.” – Chad, 5-year Mo Bro

Mo Bros and Sistas are invited to show their Movember pride

every Tuesday in November from 5-9 p.m. at Societe Brewing Co.,
8262 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego, 92111
(ages 21 and older).

A portion of sales goes to Pints for Prostates.

Free brewery tour at 5 p.m. for those interested. Info:

Need just a little more incentive to abandon your razor this month?
“Women are more attracted to men with mustaches. Fact.” (Movember)

‘Nuf said.

Resources   |   |   |

No-Shave November

Another hairy November campaign, No-Shave November was born five years ago by friends Rebecca Hill and Bret Ringdahl.

“The goal is to grow awareness by embracing our hair, which many cancer patients lose, and letting it grow wild and free,” states No-Shave’s website.

Instead of spending money on grooming products or trips to the salon, the group encourages men and women alike to donate that money to fight cancer and raise awareness, also with a focus on men’s cancers.

“What started as a family effort in 2009 has turned into a worldwide phenomenon and a brilliant way to encourage men to make their health a priority,” states the American Cancer Society, which joined forces with No-Shave November last year.

More details: