Like shrubbery that suddenly appears in an arid dessert, hair has sprouted on the faces of several normally clean-shaven Salmon Arm men.
It is Movember – a time when a moustache of any ilk is a silent but obvious way to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer – the number-one cancer among men.
Roger Parenteau, from Downtown Salmon Arm, calls Movember a good cause but one he wasn’t aware of until this year.
“It’s a mutually supportive guy thing that guys don’t normally do; we don’t seem to be big in the communication,” he says. “But when it gets down to life and death, then it’s time to start talking.”
Unlike some other Movember participants, Parenteau had his Prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels measured by a simple blood test last year.
“There’s a big genetic component, you kinda need to hear about,” Parenteau says. “I want to be around for my kids.”
Optometrist Robert Allaway, who is sporting a new Fu Manchu, points the finger of blame in Parenteau’s direction.
“He’s the main reason I am doing this. My lip wanted to challenge his lip and I know my lip is superior to his lip,” he laughs, before noting in a serious tone that he has seen a lot of patients with a history of prostate cancer. “Unfortunately for men, it’s like grey hair and wrinkles – everybody’s gonna get it if they live long enough.”
At the RCMP detachment, a team of “Movemberites” is pitting moustache-growing abilities while raising funds, led by one of the younger constables.
“We’ve all paid an entry fee and there’s a looming punishment fee should you not be able to make it the full month,” says Staff Sgt. Kevin Keane, who, in his mid-40s knows two policemen, one 10 years older and another 10 years younger, who have been diagnosed with prostate cancer.
“We’re just doing it because it’s for charity, it’s a good thing to do and within the detachment it raises morale. It’s nice to poke fun at each other.”
Keane says RCMP members get a thorough check-up every three years because they go into potentially dangerous sites such as grow-ops.
“They do a really good job of checking us from stem to stern.”
Another team effort is underway at Blue Canoe, where owner Al Boucher and three employees – James Williston, Ron MacKenzie and Brian Litwyn – have joined the challenge.
“We think it’s a good excuse to grow a moustache and it’s a good cause,” he says. “It creates good awareness when people ask you why you have that cheesy moustache.”
Pointing out that a family member is currently awaiting a diagnoses, Boucher says he has a more heightened awareness this year.
Customers have been filling a jar in his bakery and when the moustaches come off at the end of the month, the money will be going to the local branch of the Canadian Cancer Society.
Sporting hair on his upper lip, early-morning radio man Patrick Ryley says, “without your health, you don’t have wealth.”
He invites Movember participants, their significant others and friends to participate in the MOscars, an awards show and fundraiser for prostate cancer research, at 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 25 at the Hideaway Pub.
The MOscars will feature the Maritime Kitchen Party band, prizes for the best moustaches and a cover charge donation at the door.