Firstly I’d like to apologise.
I must apologise to all blokes who can wear a moustache and maintain their dignity.
I must also apologise because I will never have the appeal that comes from the stylish Mo of Tom Selleck (as Magnum, P.I.) or the larrikinism of the big bushy Mo of Merv Hughes.
Still I am going to grow a Mo. Because it is Movember. And I want to raise awareness about men’s health and raise money to support research into a better test to diagnose prostate cancer.
Every hour in Australia, more than four men die from potentially preventable conditions.
This needs to change.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, 3294 men died from prostate cancer in 2011, accounting for almost 1 in 8 of all cancer deaths. In 2009 there were an estimated 19,438 new cases of prostate cancer in Australia.
Last year the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, in a major study funded by the National Centre for Monitoring Cancer, predicted that by 2020 there would be more than 25,000 diagnoses of prostrate cancer, more than any other cancer.
Of the total health research spend in Australia, cancer research gets a relatively small 6% and of this only 0.1% is allocated to improving our diagnosis of cancer.
This is not good enough.
While our government falls over itself to cut taxes for polluting industries and the wealthy mining corporations, the shrinking of the public purse means there will be even less money to allocate to cancer diagnosis and illness prevention.
And that’s why organisations like the Movember Foundation are so important.
Since beginning in Melbourne in 2003, the Movember Foundation has spread across 21 countries with more than 3 million men donating their faces while their sponsors have chipped in more than $443 million.
And the research the Foundation is funding is looking promising. In one project, Australian researchers are working with teams from 13 other countries to develop new diagnostic tests that can distinguish the low risk prostate cancer from the aggressive variety.
This will mean that cancer treatment can be personalised at the time of diagnosis, increasing treatment effectiveness and decreasing the human cost of the current “one kind fits all” approach to cancer therapy.
Almost three years ago, a prostate screening test indicated I had cancer. It was only after months of anguish and further tests and biopsies that I was given the all-clear.
A better diagnostic test for prostate cancer would definitely be a good thing.
We all know that most guys don’t want to talk about their health issues and are reluctant to go to see the doctor.
The Movember Foundation ensures that some of the funds raised go towards awareness and education about men’s health.
This is important because health promotion and illness prevention are fundamental components of an effective health system.
So if I look like Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman in the TV show Parks and Recreation) this November, I make no apology.
Councillor Michael Osborne can be sponsored at www.MoBro.co/MichaelOsborne4Newcastle