Monday, 14 November 2011

Mo reasons this month to raise money for prostate cancer

Bobby Roy

When the calendar flips over from October to November, the days get shorter, the temperatures start to plunge, Christmas commercials start popping up and things start to get a bit harrier.

A bit harrier? What does that have to do with November, you ask?

That’s what November, or what is now commonly known as Mo-vember is all about. Some men around the world sacrifice their usually clean-shaven upper lip for a hairy little buddy to promote awareness and help raise funds for prostate cancer research this month.

As the midway mark of November is now behind us, I’m sure you’ve begun to notice men sporting their own unique moustache, whether they be thick, not so thick and maybe not so physically attractive.

While these mustaches may cause some women to cringe, chuckle or smile and for some men to doubt sporting a ‘stache is really worth it, what each unique mustache represents is the most important aspect of what Mo-vember is all about.

The global movement of Mo-vember has been growing steadily since its humble beginnings in Melbourne, Australia in 2003, and adding up last year’s figures, the movement has raised $176 million for prostate cancer research.

The amount of Mo Bros and Mo Sistas, the nickname given to the men and women who sign up online, involved in the cause has exploded exponentially each year with more than one million taking part as of last year.

Last year, I decided to do my part for the cause and signed up online, created a profile, grew a mustache (attempted to anyways) and tried to fundraise for prostate cancer.

This is now the second year I’ve decided to take part in Mo-vember and, although my mustache was called “pathetic” by my editor, continues to lack in darkness and thickness, is itchy and is less than physically appealing, what it represents is worth the lack of female attention I’ve received so far (and probably will continue to until the end of this month).

I’ve never had a family member who has been affected by prostate cancer, but since it is the number one cancer that affects men, taking part in Mo-vember is a good way to help fundraise and have a little fun while doing so.

Men who are taking part in their Mo-growing efforts are walking, talking billboards for prostate cancer awareness. Don’t forget about the Mo-Sistas either, who may not be taking part in the mustache growing, but are doing their part to help raise awareness and cash for prostate cancer research.

Like any other fundraising effort for cancer research, it should be a yearly focus and not just for one month, but having the month of November dubbed, Mo-vember does provide more exposure on prostate cancer and its affect on men.

The real winners are the ones who have donated and raised awareness this month, have in the past and will continue to do so in the future. No amount of mustache can compete against those who are truly dedicated to helping raise money for prostate and other cancers.

But, if you can, donate to a Mo-Bro or Mo-Sista for the remainder of this month.

And I will continue to campaign for donations for prostate cancer even in my mustache continues to lack in every other department.

Visit to donate or for more information.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Getting gutsy in the name of IBD

Did you know Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is about three times more common than multiple sclerosis and HIV amongst Canadians? According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of Canada, it is and November is Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Month. To mark the awareness month, I decided to share my experiences—good and bad — with Crohn’s Disease over the past four years in hopes of explaining the disease to people.

It was back in 2007 when I was diagnosed with the disease (after many misdiagnosises), given numerous new prescriptions and released from the hospital after spending more than a week there. But what the busy doctors failed to explain to me in detail was, what is Crohn’s Disease?

I like to describe Crohn’s to people as speed bumps in your intestines. When you eat something the intestines find difficult to digest (strawberries, high fibre foods, or nuts for example), your body rejects the food. When you have Crohn’s, your intestines become spoiled brats: They decide what they want to digest, when they do it and just how much pain they are going to inflict.

The docs out there give it a little bit more of an elegant explanation. Crohn’s Disease is an IBD and like I mentioned before, it affects the intestines but can target anywhere from your mouth to your well, um, ‘exit.’ One website gives a pretty good summary, saying “People with Crohn’s disease have ongoing (chronic) inflammation of the gastrointestinal tract. Crohn’s disease may occur in any area of the digestive tract. There can be healthy patches of tissue between diseased areas. The inflammation causes the intestinal wall to become thick.”

And I know what some of you are probably thinking: “Wow, this sounds gross.” And really it is. But I am a firm believer that unless people start talking about it, nobody will know what the disease is or want to find a cure. I have met a lot of ‘closet’ Crohn’s sufferers over the years, people who are afraid to talk about this chronic, painful and sometimes humiliating disease. Many people are often surprised to discover that I have Crohn’s but when I tell them, nine times out of 10 they are interested and surprised to learn what I have to do to avoid pain.

Eating with Crohn’s Disease

Since it’s a gastrointestinal disorder and since I assume everybody has taken biology, that means Crohn’s has to do with digestion, making dinner parties and staff lunches a nightmare for people like myself who have IBD.

Since the body reacts different to all types of food, I have to be very selective with what I eat, otherwise I will be suffering with bad cramps, a migraine and just overall exhaustion, sometimes lasting days. Luckily, my Crohn’s overall has been going well in the past few years, thanks to the two needles I take every week. It’s tough, I admit, but it needs to be done and I am just happy to be able to go home to my own bed every night and not a hospital bed.

Although I try to keep a positive spin to the cards I have been dealt, sufferers of IBD share my pain and know just how much of an impact this disease has on your everyday life. I would love to eat whole wheat bread, strawberries and spinach, but instead I’m stuck with white bread, green beans and a muffin top.

My goal is to educate as many people as possible on the disease, since it impacts so many Canadians. I don’t do it to complain about my trials with the disease, but I do it so when people are diagnosed with IBD, they’ll know what it is and won’t have to go through the months of confusion and battles with food I did. As painful and frustrating as it can be, I look forward to the future of IBD research, with discoveries about this little-known disease developing each day. And that is something worth talking about.