Movember Creates Change
Movember is a crazy month full of donation requests and men trying to raise some dough for their charities. Some start a month early just so they’re not embarrassed by other men having a Magnum P.I. within a day! However it grows, it’s fun and it has been a stunning initiative by a small group of men from Melbourne (although apparently they nicked the idea from some Adelaide blokes – but let’s not get into that!).
The simple nature of it: a set time frame, a visual progression and an easy way to donate has seen it get great traction around the world in many countries, raising close to $200 million worldwide.
But is the campaign’s main objective working?
My answer is yes. In my line of work I see many men who have what we call red flags. These red flags are signs and symptoms that need special attention, possibly even a referral to a GP. These may include such presentations as swelling in one calf, a persistent cough for more than 6 weeks or a different type of headache than usual to name a few. However, getting a male to get his red flag checked out used to be very difficult, but recently I feel attitudes are changing. Two examples of that this year were two patients of mine who chose not to dismiss advice given to them and they are now in much better positions to deal with their health.
Patient Example 1
One had a suspect mole on the bottom of his foot, rarely exposed to sunlight. He had had it for years but his partner noticed that it had changed, she urged him to get it checked out and it ended up being a very rare form of melanoma that needed urgent removal. A big chunk of his foot was taken out, but it healed and he now has peace-of-mind that it won’t be an issue in the future.
Patient Example 2
Another patient of mine had dull, low-grade back pain that was just not healing. It wasn’t getting worse, it just wasn’t getting better. Now this can be very common with older men who are very stiff with large frames. It can take months of treatment to get them better. But this patient was not seeing any improvement at all. After a month or so of treatment we urged him to see his GP. He resisted early, but then bit the bullet and had some scans. It has turned out to be bowel cancer. A shock, yes, but he is now in a position to tackle this, rather than it being found at the end stage with not much hope.
I feel organisations like the Movember campaign has given spouses, partners, family and even, surprisingly, practitioners more of a platform to launch their health preaching to males from. And I think males generally are more receptive to getting their red flags checked out.
Males: please listen to those who matter to you. Everyone else: keep looking out for us!