For more than a decade, Movember has been raising awareness and much-needed funds for men’s cancers as well as men’s health awareness. What began as 30 “Mo Bros” in Australia in 2003 has grown to over 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas to date.
The concept is relatively straightforward: grow a moustache in the name of men’s health for the month of November. However, this “idea” has evolved immensely. What began as a means of raising awareness for prostate cancer has now grown to encompass colon and testicular cancers, as well as men’s mental health and suicide prevention.
This year, Canada is celebrating its 13th year of Movember, and two locals have been working diligently to help contribute to the annual cause.
Rodrigo Vergara, who lives in Old Montreal, is in the midst of his ninth year fundraising for Movember and has become an official Quebec ambassador of the cause.
“I had a buddy who introduced me to the mandate of the charity, and I started reading about the realities of men’s cancers and the staggering statistics of how many people around us are affected by it,” he explained. “There’s a lot we don’t know because we don’t talk about it, which is the calling card of men around the world: We don’t talk about our problems or ask questions. But did you know that if you detect prostate or testicular cancer early, for example, there’s an almost 100 per cent chance of survival, whereas if you are ever-so-slightly late, that survival rate goes down to 25 per cent?! The importance of talking about it and raising awareness very much became important to me.”
Over the past several years, Movember has certainly grown. “I never thought this movement could strike an even stronger chord in my heart, but I’ve gone through depression and some dark times of my own, and by sharing these experiences with other people, I know for a fact that I have potentially helped people go through the fight that is depression,” Vergara said.
In fact, three out of four suicides are men, and he strongly believes that this is caused by depression and mental health issues that Movember has taken under its wing. “I couldn’t be prouder in 2019, after nine years of being a part of this movement, to become the official ambassador in Quebec. I don’t think I could have been bestowed a bigger honour than to speak on behalf of these men who don’t have a voice.”
Sophia Manarolis Koulikas, who lives in TMR, has been an active Mo Sista since last year when her father was diagnosed with prostate cancer. “It hit us like a ton of bricks. I was feeling a lot of anger and signed up for fundraising for Movember.”
Koulikas decided to host an event in the Greek community called Let’s End Movember With A Bang that included dinner, live music and dancing. “The majority of men [in my community] don’t get help with mental health or talk about their cancers because there’s a lot of stigma there. So, I decided to hold an event last year, I got sponsors, and we raised more than $16,000. Doing this helped me get through my grief. There was a lot of loss: loss of the normalcy in my family, and my father no longer being able to work and losing his autonomy. The best way to channel it was putting my efforts into that, and I couldn’t be more grateful to Movember. This will be my way of moving forward.”
Koulikas, who’s father is doing really well, is holding a second Movember event on November 30. For more info, follow her on Instagram at @be.alive.feel.alive.
From humble beginnings in Australia in 2003, the Movember movement has grown to be a truly global one, inspiring support from over 5 million Mo Bros and Mo Sistas around the world and raising millions of dollars in the name of research and being proactive.
For more information on Movember, visit ca.movember.com