Cover Story: Mo' Money

Cover for Nov. 16, 2012 edition of the South Delta Leader - Rob Newell Photo
Cover for Nov. 16, 2012 edition of the South Delta Leader
— image credit: Rob Newell Photo

It's that time of the year again, when fuzzy caterpillars crawl upon the upper lips of men everywhere, to the mixed horror and delight of all.

The purpose? To raise awareness and money for prostate cancer, a disease that affects an estimated one in seven men in their lifetimes.

Perhaps it's because the mustache has gone out of style among today's fresh-faced generation of razor enthusiasts, but "Movember" gives men the opportunity to try their hand at facial hair, while showing support for a popular cause.

James Sandberg, a police officer with the Delta Police Criminal Investigations Branch, says he knows many people who are growing out their "mo's".

"I put the challenge out to everybody, saying hey let's put this together, it's a good cause, it's kind of a fun cause at the same time that could create a little competition and camaraderie within the office."

Sandberg soon learned other departments were doing the same thing.

Each person has a different reason for growing their mo. For Sandberg, it's something that hits close to him.

"My family's been affected by cancer on a personal level," he says, adding his father-in-law is in remission for prostate cancer, something that surprised everyone because frequent previous checkups found nothing.

"It went from nothing to extreme in very little time."

Although his 'mo is growing to a respectable size, Sandberg looks forward to the day he can shave it off.

"I'm not going to trim it or anything and at the end of the month I'm going to have the Lanny MacDonald happening."

Captain Brent Thomas (in grey moustache) and Delta firefighters in a photo from early Movember. Rob Newell photo.

The boys at Delta Fire/Rescue are also mo-ing it up, says firefighter Derek Christiansen.

"There are male health issues that have to be made aware of and that's why the guys are doing it," he explains.

Some of the guys in the department get a free pass because they already have full-time mo's, laughs Christiansen.

There were others who actually started early because they don't have the mo-jo to grow it fast enough in just one month.

"Guys like to laugh at themselves every now and then," says Christiansen. "Especially us as firefighters. We enjoy laughing at each other."

Not everybody has the growth strategy to make a go of their mo. There's the Chevron, a thick and wide mustache common among State Trooper stereotypes. There's the Dali, which is narrow with long points bent or curved steeply upward, named for the famous artist. For the truly brave, there's the Fu Manchu, a horseshoe-shaped mo that takes a level of commitment beyond the month of November.

Dave McLellan, coach for the Delta Ice Hawks, says the team began participating in Movember back in 2010 when they wore a prostate cancer patch on their jerseys.

Although several players are already sporting their furry upper lips, they usually wait to snap a team photo near the end of the month and posts it on their website.

"We've got some young players where that's a challenge," laughs McLellan, pointing out junior hockey players can range in age from 16 to 20.

"Our players are having a lot of fun with it, I can tell you that. They all try and grow out the biggest mustache."

Dr. Dan Rubin and Dr. Sophie Low-Beer at Delta Hospital get into the spirit of Movember. Rob Newell photo.

McLellan enjoys participating but he keeps the mo under control because of his job as a real estate agent.

The corporate world has also jumped into the spirit of the mo-ment.

The entire male executive of Santevia Water Systems in Ladner are growing their mustaches, with proceeds going to a good cause.

"This isn't just lip service," says Bruno Hoffman, director of business development. "We give a huge percentage of our company revenues each year to giving back."

The four core values of Santevia are to treat people honourably, trustworthiness, health promotion, and giving back. It's the latter value that Hoffman says was the motivation for participating in the Movember campaign.

Santevia has been bundling a few of their products together with a portion of the sales going to the Vancouver Prostate Centre.

But it's not as easy as simply donating money, says Hoffman.

"We all had to not just talk the talk, we had to walk the walk."

Their female coworkers have put on fake ones for moral support, but in return they expect the men to wear pink bras in support of breast cancer awareness month next year, joked Bruno.

"I think I'm going to be out of town that month."

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