It was a few years ago that my dad was rushed to the hospital after he began seeing double while driving my little brother to the airport. He was suffering from a massive migraine and couldn't see. It was a few days later that he was diagnosed with a brain tumor that was pressing on his optic nerves.
It turns out that prior to his rush to the hospital he had been having spells of double vision and intense migraines- but he didn't go to a doctor. He instead took some Advil and hoped it would go away. My dad ended up being ok, but it was only after a hospital transfer, major brain surgery, and, well, luck.
A few years before, my father-in-law endured a long, painful, sleepless night because he couldn't get rid of what he thought was severe heartburn. The next morning, the heartburn still hadn't gone away so he drove to the clinic. It was there that he was told that he was having a heart attack and was rushed to the hospital, where a few days later he had surgery to place a stint in his heart. It turns out that a few weeks before his trip to the hospital he had stopped taking the statins his doctor prescribed because he thought he didn't need them.
Too Tough to Need Help
I could go on and on with stories of the straight cis men in my life who have ended up in the hospital, under the knife, or diagnosed with an untreated medical condition after ignoring the warning signs and thinking that they can handle it.
It's not their fault that they have this view about their health. They are held in the grip of toxic masculinity, the social norm that makes men feel like they have to be a man. Someone who doesn't need any help, knows everything, and feels no pain because he is tough. It is this unspoken rule that stops many male identifying people from taking their health seriously. That's where Movember becomes so necessary.
Spreading Men's Health Awareness
Movember, the month long moustache growing fundraiser, was founded by a group of 30 guys who decided to raise money to grow their moustaches to spread awareness of men's health issues. The main focus is on awareness and prevention of prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide, the 8th leading death of men in the US. Since its first year in 2003, it has become an international event working to raise money and awareness about men's health.
By having fun and making light of what can be embarrassing and uncomfortable health topics, Movember works to change and disarm the stigma around men's health. It's ok to talk about how you're feeling, mentally and physically, and it's ok to ask for help- it's not a threat to your masculinity.
Grow for a Bro
If you want to get in on the action, check out the Movember Foundation website, and start growing that mustache. Ask your friends and family to sponsor your 'stache growth and talk about men's health a lot, to anyone and everyone who will listen, especially the men in your life.