Mighty Melbourne-born charity Movember has funded more than 1320 men’s health projects worldwide since being born from a “chance conversation” between high school mates 20 years ago.

Travis Garone and Luke Slattery’s mission to bring back the moustache – and, more importantly, tackle prostate and testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide – has skyrocketed from comprising 30 participants in 2003 to almost seven million today.

The money raised by the pair has notably led to the development of five life-extending therapies, three PET imaging radiotracers and a revolutionary blood test, including two of the 21st century’s most significant breakthroughs in the management of advanced prostate cancer.

Five countries where Movember operates have recorded declines of up to a third in the disease’s death rate.

Since 2003, Movember has also:

Invested $350m in more than 600 biomedical research projects focusing on prostate and testicular cancer;

Developed the world’s largest prostate cancer registry network, allowing trends in the disease to be spotted faster; and,

Funded initiatives aimed at early intervention and prevention of mental illness, fostering improved mental health discussions and supporting men doing it tough.

Garone said he and Slattery were “proud (of) the impacts and outcomes we’ve had with men’s health”, after dreaming up the charity over beers at now-defunct Fitzroy watering hole Gypsy Bar when they were both aged 29.

“We wanted to disrupt and challenge the charitable sector to create something for men that we could relate to at the time, something that was fun and irreverent and a bit cheeky,” he said.

“Movember was a simple idea … to grow a moustache to have a conversation about your health. The moustache is a catalyst for conversation. It’s our walking, talking billboard.

“The world just grabbed on to it. It was like a rocket ship taking off.”

Movember chief executive Michelle Terry pledged the charity would continue “to help shape the health and wellbeing of men for generations to come”.

“The harsh reality is that globally, we lose one man to suicide every minute of every day, prostate cancer is estimated to be the second-most diagnosed cancer in men, and testicular cancer is the most common cancer in young men,” she said.

In addition to growing a mo, participants can support Movember by running or walking 60km throughout November, hosting an event that raises awareness and funds, or choosing their own challenge.

Throughout the month, anyone who donates blood or plasma at an Australian Red Cross Lifeblood centre nationwide will receive a limited-edition bandage Garone has designed to feature a handlebar moustache in the shape of two clasping hands.


Markov’s mo-mentous pledge

Fresh from winning a premiership, Collingwood defender Oleg Markov has moved onto his next challenge.

Markov will shave off his famous mo for the Movember cause if he can raise $50,000 for men’s health.

“Look, I’m proud to rock a pretty wispy mo all year round, but this Movember, I’m willing to shave off my follicles for a great cause,’’ he said.

“To help start important conversations about men’s health. In life, and certainly in professional sports, mental health often takes a back seat, but for me, it’s just as important as my physical health. That’s why I really love what Movember is about — encouraging guys to talk about their feelings, breaking down old-fashioned stigmas about what it means to be a man, and empowering guys to look after their physical and mental wellbeing.

“It’s important that we tackle life’s challenges head-on, just like we do on the field.”

Markov will do the shave on November 12 and will let the person who donates the most money shave off the moustache on the day.


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