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Mustaches raise awareness about prostate health this month

Students are trying to help the Movember movement gain traction.

Nick Gregor and Brian Riefler (blue) sport 12-day-old mustaches for Movember, a month-long mustache campaign meant to raise awareness for men's health issues.
Nick Gregor and Brian Riefler (blue) sport 12-day-old mustaches for Movember, a month-long mustache campaign meant to raise awareness for men's health issues.

The Department of Urology at UNC Health Care has teamed up with several health care departments and campus groups for its annual Movember campaign to support men’s health.

John Stillerman, the associate chairman of administration in the Department of Urology, said the department began participating in the movement in 2012.

“I felt it was something our faculty and staff needed to be involved in,” Stillerman said.

Between 2012 and 2013, the department raised about $15,000 in honor of Movember — almost all of this money is donated to programs supporting prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. This year, the department hopes to raise more than $25,000 across the UNC Movember Network for the cause. As of Wednesday, the department had already raised about $8,329.

Over the past several years, the Movember trend has caught on around the country. Every November, participants toss their razors for a month in order to grow mustaches.

Although some men participate solely to grow a mustache, the reason Movember began was to initiate awareness of men’s health concerns, particularly testicular and prostate cancer, as well as mental health. The Movember initiative is separate from No Shave November, which doesn’t focus on growing a mustache and raises money for the American Cancer Society.

Sophomores Brian Riefler and Nick Gregor have been campaigning for Movember separately from the Department of Urology, trying to reach out to undergraduates.

“I found the mission of Movember really important — how it’s trying to raise awareness and funds for men’s health initiatives,” Riefler said.

“There’s a huge stigma associated with men seeking help. These issues are invisible struggles for people.”

Gregor said he started the tradition a couple years before he learned of the awareness Movember raises.

“First I just liked growing the mustache, and then I realized the cause, and I got really into it,” Gregor said.

Riefler said this was the first year they are actively promoting Movember, but both he and Gregor hope it will become more common at the University in future years.

“Once we generate enough support, we really want to make Movember an established student organization,” Riefler said.

The movement began in Australia and began to spread to the U.S. in 2007, said Doug Prusoff, head of college engagement efforts for the Movember foundation.

“It started with a couple guys trying to bring back the mustache,” he said.

Prusoff said one of the important things about growing these mustaches is that they become conversation starters, which allows for the spread of men’s health awareness.

“They become walking, talking billboards.”

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