It has been a year since the doctor removed a Stage 1 melanoma from my back. Easily removed (10 external and 4 internal stitches to a depth of 5mm), I have made it through the year with a further 2 biopsies on suspicious spots and another nice scar at the top of my chest after a couple of basal cell carcinomas were removed. I have also had a few blemishes frozen off my face and forehead the last year as well.
I have just turned 50. I felt the love of my family and friends. With the unexpected gifts, the unexpected visitors to the “50 hours of Russ” event I ran for a whole weekend; suffice to say, in the words of my wife, “Russ, your love tank is full.”
It’s taken me awhile to recover, but it is just what I needed to get me back on track.
This is why I “mo”
Men, we need to take the state of our health seriously. Whether it is our physical, mental, emotional, social or spiritual health- we need to take a good, hard look at ourselves and use the next month to take a personal inventory of our life.
Suicide is now the leading cause of death for Australian men aged 15-44. And alarming new research suggests that some men choose to take their own life, rather than appear weak by asking for help.
Men are dying on average 6 years earlier than women, and for largely preventable reasons. Unchecked, prostate cancer rates will double over the next 15 years. Testicular cancer rates have already doubled in the last 50. And across the world, one man dies by suicide every minute of every day, with males accounting for 75% of all suicides.
During November each year, Movember is responsible for the sprouting of moustaches on thousands of men’s faces (supported by their Mo Sistas - female supporters) in Australia and around the world. There is a serious side to the Mo growing. The money raised goes to support and raise vital funds and awareness for men’s health.
In 2020, Mo Bros and Mo Sistas from across Australia helped raise $35.5 million for Movember. These donations are used to raise awareness, invest in vital men's health initiatives and run Movember each year.
Why help men live happier, healthier and longer lives?
In 2020, Australian fundraising and administrative costs are 18.3% of funds raised. In the previous financial year, Movember conservatively retained an exceptionally high percentage of its funds raised for investment in future campaigns due to the uncertainties of COVID-19.
Following the success of the 2020 campaign, funds retained have been released to Programs Investments resulting in a net release of 10.1% of funds raised during the year.
In other words,91.8% of all Australian funds raised, comprising 10.1% of prior year retained funds and 81.7% from the 2020 campaign, have been devoted to helping men live happier, healthier, and longer lives.
The Movember community championed men’s health in 20 countries across the world. Through the growth of 394 650 moustaches (Mo sistas included!), $135.1 million was raised.
The focus for funding, as it was in previous years, is for prostate and testicular cancer research along with mental health awareness campaigns. They are committed to raising awareness on the dangers of physical inactivity and investing in initiatives that encourage physical activity. Physical inactivity is a big deal. It’s the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality, causing 3.2 million deaths globally per year.
I am overwhelmed each year by the donations and the jibes I get from my fellow staff and the students I teach.
A simple strategy
Movember provides a simple strategy for men. They are strategies we ALL can do to take control of our health. Why not get that special man or special men your life to do the same?
1. Make man time
Stay connected. Your mates are important and spending time with them is good for you. Catch up regularly, check in and make time.
70% of men say their friends can rely on them for support, but only 48% say that they rely on their friends. In other words: we’re here for our mates, but worried about asking for help for ourselves. Reaching out is crucial.
2. Have open conversations
You don’t need to be an expert and you don’t have to be the sole solution, but being there for someone, listening and giving your time can be life-saving.
3. Know the numbers.
At 50, talk to your doctor about prostate cancer and whether it’s right for you to have a PSA test. If you are of African or Caribbean descent or have a father or brother with prostate cancer, you should be having this conversation at 45. Know your numbers, know your risk, talk to your doctor.
4. Know thy nuts. Simple.
Get to know what’s normal for your testicles. Give them a check regularly and go to the doctor if something doesn’t feel right.
5. Move, more.
Add more activity to your day. Do more of what makes you feel good.
Take a walking meeting
Park further away from the station
Get off the bus a stop or two earlier
Instead of the lift, take the stairs
Cycle to work instead of driving
To discuss with other men on staff and with students in my school about the joys and struggles of marriage and raising kids allows me to realise I am not alone. This great cause brings to the forefront of my mind, for one month every year, the fact I am not bulletproof.
Why not encourage the men in your life to head to the doctor and let this year be the start of their annual check-up? Head to their website, for more information.
Russell Modlin is in his 30th year as a Secondary English and Physical Education Teacher. He has taught in Mackay, Brisbane, Alice Springs and currently on the Sunshine Coast. He is married to Belinda (26 years) and they have three sons- 2 have finished High School, 1 to go!
Russell Modlin’s archive of previous article can be found atwww.pressserviceinternational.org/russell-modlin.html