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Fáilte Moustaches: Growing Men’s Health in April for Testicular Cancer awareness month

The Head of Development of the Movember Ireland Foundation, Jack O’Connor, in an exclusive interview. Photo Credit: Jack O’Connor.

The Movember Ireland Foundation is helping to prevent men from dying too young and this April is Testicular Cancer awareness month

Fáilte moustaches, Fáilte April! Wait,  April is almost over. But thankfully there are a few days left! Oh man, you don’t know what I am talking about? Please read this article and find out how to improve men’s health.

Movember is a widely recognized campaign where men grow mustaches during the month of November to bring attention to men’s health issues and to educate on easy and effective ways on how to permanently remove body hair. However, did you know that the Movember Foundation is active all year round? They have just raised a new campaign for April called ‘Know Thy Nuts’, to encourage men to perform regular self-checks for Testicular Cancer.

The Movember campaign was set up by pals Travis Garone and Luke Slattery in Melbourne, Australia in 2003. Five years later, in November 2008, it arrived in Ireland and proved to be as much of a success here as in Australia. This reporter caught up with Jack O’Connor, the Head of Development of the Movember Ireland Foundation in an exclusive interview.

The Head of Development of the Movember Ireland Foundation, Jack O’Connor, in an exclusive interview. Photo Credit: Jack O’Connor.

What we want is for men to live happier, healthier and longer lives.” states Jack O’Connor, Head of Development at the Movember Foundation.

What role do you have in the Movember Foundation?

Jack O’Connor: My job title is Business and Community Engagement. I have worked there for 4 years. We are a small team, there are only two of us in Ireland. We attend fundraisers, visit corporate offices, organise events etc. The Movember Foundation is in 21 different countries around the world, with 6 different offices.

Jack O’Connor: Movember came to Ireland through the help of a man named Mark Breen, who owns a number of restaurants in Dublin. His father sadly passed away from prostate cancer. He had seen the campaign in the UK and online and he decided to introduce it to Ireland in 2008.

What is the purpose of the Movember Foundation?

Jack O’Connor: We are a mental health foundation. Ultimately, what we want is for men to live happier, healthier and longer lives. We do that by focusing on what we consider to be the most critical points of men’s health, which are prostate cancer, testicular cancer, suicide, mental health and also physical inactivity.

Jack O’Connor: There are two mains arms in what we do: on one hand, we fundraise for our programmes and our research. On the other hand, we’re raising awareness and we’re trying to educate men about their health. We want to encourage them to be more aware and to take more ownership and control of their health.

Onwards and upwards;” says Jack O’Connor referring to the popularity of the Movember movement.

Is the movement as popular now as it was a few years ago?

Jack O’Connor: We’ve still got a massive support base. We’ve been here for 9 years. Up until 2013, it was all growth, growth, growth. Since then we’ve started to level off, I suppose like any viral campaign that really takes off; it’s got to reach its breaking point. For years we raised around €1 million every year. Then in 2013 that peaked and went up to €2.2 million, and since then it has gone back to approximately €1 million per year. We’ve still as much support as we’ve ever had. Onwards and upwards.

Jack O’Connor: With regard to the this year’s campaign we’re bigger than last year, we’ve got more support than last year. We have new drives this year such as Move for Movember (this is where participants set a distance that they must run, walk, cycle, swim or row and they raise funds for so doing) and Host an Event. We’re diversifying and giving people points of engagement.

Jack O’Connor:  Whether people grow moustaches are not, men are still going to get prostate cancer, men are still going to get testicular cancer. The problems are not going to go away. Regardless of its popularity, it’s still needed, it’s still important. Our core support base is always going to be there. There are many guys who have been with us for the last 9 years.

Jack O’Connor:  After skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men in Ireland. Each year, about 3,400 men in Ireland are diagnosed with prostate cancer. 1 in 7 men will get prostate cancer in their lifetime. If prostate cancer is found early, it can be treated and cured. Also, around the world, a man dies from suicide every minute. It’s not possible to ignore mental health.

Lastly, this reporter asked Jack O’Connor, if he believed Irish men are good at looking after their health. “Irish men are getting better”, he explained. “What is still an issue (though) is getting men to talk, especially an older man, about their problems and encouraging them to get checked out It comes down to a masculinity issue, where men are too macho to go to a doctor or a therapist. We want to try to rectify that and focus attention on it.

A big part of what motivates me is my passion and background in psychology, and mental health”.

Christian Hoey, from The Fireplace Barbershop: He shaved off his moustache one year ago to help the Irish Cancer Society, partner of Movember Ireland. Photo credit: Jackie Costa Ribeiro.
Above (left) Gino, a hairdresser in Salon 19. He and his happy moustache are still supporting the Movember campaign since it started. (centre) John Rutledge, from The Grafton Barber supporting the campaign: ‘Gro a Mo, save a Bro’ with his charming moustache. (far right) Sarah, manager at Cezanne Hair & Beauty. No moustache but she gives a big thumbs up to this cause. Hey Lads! This is not only a cause for men. Sarah supports this campaign as well. Photo credit: Jackie Costa Ribeiro.

For more information and to get involved visit:

So, let’s help raise awareness of men’s health, brothers! ★

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