MOvember: It’s Not a Typo. It’s an Invitation to Grow Facial Hair

Local residents are encouraged to grow facial hair in November to show support for men’s health, especially men affected by prostate cancer

By Patrick Fisher


Contrary to perception, following Halloween and throughout November, women you see wearing fake beards are not doing so to protest facial hair on men. Rather, they have knitted, crocheted or purchased their beards in a show of support for men’s health, especially men affected by prostate cancer.

Prostate cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death in the United States, according to the National Institutes of Health. In Rochester and the Finger Lakes region, more than 16,000 men are living with the disease and thousands more are unknowingly at greater risk for developing it and should be screened. An early diagnosis can mean a successful outcome.

MOvember (a portmanteau of the Australian-English diminutive word for moustache, «mo,” and «November») is an annual event that started with two men living in Australia who realized the importance of early detection for prostate cancer.

Their original concept was to encourage their friends and family to grow moustaches (or wear fake ones) during the month of November and when people inquired to tell them they support early detection for prostate cancer. The movement has since evolved to include all facial hair and now includes discussion of men’s health in general and depression.

Today, the Movember Foundation runs the charitable organization and has since raised $174 million worldwide. In 2012, the Global Journal listed Movember as one of the world’s top 100 non-government organizations.

By encouraging men and women (aka Mo’bros and Mo’sistas), especially loved ones and families of prostate cancer survivors, to get involved in the MOvember movement the organization aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and effective treatments, and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths. Besides annual check-ups, the Movember Foundation encourages men to be aware of family history of cancer and to adopt a healthier lifestyle.

In Rochester, local business owners and college fraternities have created their own spin-off events whereby clean-shaven men check in with an event organizer on Nov. 1. They pay a nominal fee to join the month-long competition. Then, on Nov. 30 all contestants assemble at a pre-determined location where a panel of appointed judges determine whose facial hair is worthy of acknowledgement. Typically, all funds raised during these local spin-offs are then donated to a regional nonprofit 501c3 organization, such as Us TOO Rochester.

Us TOO Rochester is the regional affiliate chapter of Us TOO International, a nonprofit 501c3 organization providing support, education and advocacy for those affected by prostate cancer in Monroe and surrounding counties of the Finger Lakes region. The local group conducts peer support meetings in addition to patient education seminars where men get access to unbiased information regarding advances in screening, diagnosis, imaging and treatment options for prostate cancer no matter where they receive medical care. Us TOO seminars are facilitated by medical providers from across the region.

The next patient education seminar presented by Us TOO Rochester is planned for 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 18, in the education center of Unity Hospital at Park Ridge, 1555 Long Pond Road in Greece. The seminar is free and open to the public. It is presented by Radiation Oncology at Park Ridge Wilmot Cancer Institute. Morning coffee service and lunch are included but advance registration is required. Spouses or significant others are encouraged to also attend. To register, call 585-787-4011. For more information about the Us TOO organization, visit

Patrick Fisher is a Vietnam veteran and prostate cancer survivor living in Penfield. He is the chapter leader for Us TOO Rochester.