Last month I donated my face to science. To be more specific, I donated the space between my nose and my mouth in the form of a ridiculous mustache.
Despite the fact that the Seventies ended over thirty years ago, thousands of young men around the country proudly grew out their mustaches (aka Mo’s) in November to raise awareness about prostate and testicular cancer as well as solicit for donations to support research to find the cure.
Movember began in Australia several years ago with a group of friends looking for an excuse to grow entertaining facial fuzz, and has since grown into a global force. In 2011, they managed to secure 854,000 participants who raised over $126 million towards the cause in just a single month. This year, judging by the amount of hype I saw in various forms of social media, Movember is bigger than ever….WAY BIGGER. I am not sure how many people participated or how much awareness and funding were raised, but I do know that my mustache was not alone. In fact, everywhere I went, there were guys (mo bros as they are known) sporting wild and intricate facial hair and women (mo sistas) were supporting their efforts as opposed to cringing in disgust.
As a graduate student, it can be difficult to be a philanthropist; my money is more likely to be spent on ramen noodles than charity, but that does not mean that I cannot participate in tzedaka. People can donate hair to children with cancer, blood to hospital patients, volunteer hours to their favorite causes or various other non-monetary “in-kind items.” In my case, putting together a team of mustached walking billboards ended up raising more than $1,000 dollars, which is way more than I could afford to donate on my own.
Not to mention the awareness I helped raise. Most people do not know that these cancers affect one in six men over the course of their lifetimes. That is a lot … more frequent than breast cancer, which thankfully is part of our societal conscience thanks to various high-profile campaigns. Men are less amenable to sporting fashionable, pink ribbons, but we do like a good excuse to grow a mo.
Now that November is finished, I have shaved off my mustache, but I find that I cannot stop supporting the cause. Today at lunch I still found myself telling people to go to movember.com to educate themselves. Though the disease has not affected me, my involvement in a silly fundraiser has made me a full time advocate. I look forward to next year’s event, the creativity in facial hair growth and the opportunity to change the face of men’s health.
Dovi Kacev grew up in South Africa and San Diego and is a resident of the San Diego Moishe House. He is an avid surfer, and he studies sharks.