By Carlos Olvera
It’s a question I get asked a lot these days.
Everyone agrees that the mustache is not the best look for me, but not everyone knows the reason behind it. Every November, also known as Movember, men and women join together to raise awareness and funds for men’s health. The Movember Foundation aims to increase early cancer detection, diagnosis and ultimately reduce the number of preventable deaths.
So what triggered my decision to participate in this campaign? Over 15 years ago, my dad was diagnosed with stage IV colorectal, prostate and bladder cancer. He never went for his routine colonoscopy. For years he experienced rectal bleeding but didn’t think much of it. He thought it was just hemorrhoids and he never mentioned the symptoms to his primary care physician.
To this day, I still remember the emotional roller coaster that my family endured. His treatment plan was brutal; it included chemo, radiation, and multiple surgeries. After months of aggressive treatment he was left with needing two ostomy bags. All of this could have been prevented if only he had done his routine colonoscopy. According to the American Cancer Society, beginning at the age of 50 both men and women should have a colonoscopy. When I think of it today, I wish I was more educated about cancer screening and had that open conversation with my dad. Unfortunately, we have no control of the past but we can control the future.
I’m not growing my mustache alone; I approached my colleagues in Hospital Guest Relations and Interpreter Services, and they quickly joined me to support this cause. Soon team Rush Mostachos were ready to go. The entire experience has been educational for us and others, and even created an employee engagement opportunity for us to share.
Here are some general statistics to keep in mind:
- 1 in 2 men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime
- 1 in 7 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer
- 1 in 36 will die from prostate cancer
- Annually there are 8,820 new cases of testicular cancer diagnosed each year
Carlos Olvera is manager of Interpreter Services at Rush University Medical Center.