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Airdronians flying a flag for men's health this Movember

Movember is back, meaning many Airdrie men's moustaches are looking more fulsome than usual.

And while it can be a fun way to take part in a quirky fundraising campaign, there is a serious statement at the heart of it – the crisis facing men’s health in Canada and throughout the world.

According to the Movember website, men continue to die five years earlier than women on average, in many cases from largely preventable causes. Men also account for about 69 per cent of suicide victims.

About 10.8 million males around the globe will be diagnosed with prostate cancer this year, and the most common cancer among young men is testicular cancer. While men’s health in general remains the focus of Movember, it is prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health on which Movember seeks to put particular emphasis.

Every year, thousands of men in Canada take part in helping to share this men’s health message by growing out their moustaches and documenting their progress to raise money to support Movember’s mission.

Tyler Sande of Rockyview Insurance Services, the Co-operators, has been publicly participating in Movember since 2013. He and brother Travis have a very personal reason for doing so.

“Our father was actually diagnosed and has survived prostate cancer,” Tyler told the Airdrie City View in a recent interview. “It’s something we want to take part in every single year we can, and make sure we are raising as much money and awareness for it as possible.”

“It was a new treatment he (our Dad) actually had,” recalled Travis, who also works at the Co-operators. “So research is something that is very important to curing it, and we are passionate about it, for sure.

“It seems like something a lot of guys brush (health issues) under the rug, saying, ‘It will go away.’ So you have got to raise awareness that there are issues that need to be looked into.”

It needs to start with men themselves, said Tyler – they must seek a better understanding of their own health and well-being.

“It feels like sometimes that men don’t advocate for themselves as much as maybe they should,” he explained. “(Movember) seems this is one avenue we can take to try to do that in a playful way, but at the same time you get the seriousness of this issue. It puts it more into the public mind. We understand that this is something that continues to be an issue … Traditionally, we probably haven’t done a good enough job of talking about it.”

Prevention is key, according to Travis, and being actively engaged in taking care of your own health.

“After age 40 they basically tell you need to start going in for check-ups more routinely,” Travis stated. “I think a lot of guys are more the mentality of letting things heal on their own. Constant check-ups are very important, and also early detection. You need to get (cancer) figured out, diagnosed and treated as early as possible.”

And it’s not just men’s physical health they must pay better attention to, added Michael Acheson, owner of Rockyview Insurance Services. It’s also their mental health. Movember raises awareness of that too, he said.

“Because I have a number of friends that struggle with their own mental health, and if I can do one thing that helps, I do,” he stated.

As men, we need to do more to support each other and help each other strive for better health, said Tyler, which is why he, Travis, and Michael are all proud to fly the moustache flag for men’s help by taking part in Movember.

“(Men) need to go from being reactive to proactive with respect to your health,” he said. “Take those proactive steps you know you need to do.”

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