Grow Your Own for Movember
By: Chris Kazarian, November 25, 2011
Gene Marchand - From left, Bill Duffy, Nathan Keith and Ian Conboy show off the mustaches they've grown in honor of Movember.
With all apologies to Magnum P.I., never has the mustache been so cool— at least during the month of November.
Or as some call it: Movember.
While some sport facial hair year-round, a group of men throughout the Upper Cape have been growing a ’stache since November 1 as part of a campaign to raise funds and promote awareness for men’s health. Specifically, about prostate cancer.
One contingent can be found in Woods Hole, many of whom work at the NOAA’s Marine Fisheries. Under the leadership of Timothy Miller of West Falmouth, a group dubbed the Dueling Ditkas—in tribute to former Chicago Bears coach Mike Ditka—have together changed their appearance, all for a good cause.
At the age of 39, Miller admitted, “I have never grown a mustache before. I’ve tried to grow a beard, but never went this far.”
He recruited his coworkers William Duffy and Ian Conboy, who pledged to start growing hair on their upper lips this month.
So far, 16 Dueling Ditkas have raised a hair over $1,600. Those funds, according to the Movember website, go to raise awareness about prostate cancer and other illnesses that affect men as well as fund efforts by the Prostate Cancer Foundation and Lance Armstrong’s Foundation LIVESTRONG.
A personal connection
Miller, whose mustache nearly forms mutton chops, admitted the exercise was a way “to have fun because most people look silly with a mustache.”
But at the same time, he said, it is one of the best forms of advertising, particularly when trying to raise money.
“People will ask why I’m growing a mustache, and I’ll tell them and then they can donate if they want,” he said.
Not all have been a fan of his facial artwork. His wife of two years, Alicia, is still getting accustomed to seeing her spouse with a 'stache on a daily basis.
“I don’t think she likes it, but she is supportive of it because she thinks it is going to be gone at the end of November,” he said.
Miller, himself, is not necessarily comfortable with his effort. “I don’t like mine that much either. It is not as thick as it should be,” he said.
Still, it has personal significance to him. A few years ago his father, Donald Miller, 60, was diagnosed with bladder cancer, with some cells showing up on his prostate.
While he is fine now, Miller said it was “pretty stressful at the time” to see his father undergo treatment, which included surgery, for the disease.
And at least for this month, father and son share a common bond.
“My dad has a mustache,” Miller said. “He almost always had one while I was growing up so he is supportive of this. He thinks they are cool.”
Getting into character
Cool is perhaps the last word Duffy, a biological science technician at NOAA, would use to describe his first foray into Movember.
“It does look weird. It looks very weird,” he said.
Sporting a thick Fu Manchu, or what he calls “an ode to Hulk Hogan” on his face, Duffy said he gets comments not fit for print.
“People either think it is funny or creepy,” he laughed.
Under Movember’s guidelines there are specific rules Duffy and his cohorts have had to adhere to. All participants must be clean-shaven to start. The mustache cannot be connected to one’s sideburns. It cannot be a goatee. The mustache must also be well-maintained.
And perhaps the hardest rule for him is that “you have to accord yourself as a gentleman through the entire process,” Duffy said.
Whether he has fulfilled this last obligation is up to debate. “I haven’t changed. I’m still the same person,” he said.
While some may argue this is a passing fancy, the Movember movement seems to be gaining momentum. Last year in the United States, 64,500 participants helped raise $7.5 million for the cause.
Businesses are getting into the act as well. On Saturday night, a mustached Patrick Bonzagni, owner of the Beach House in North Falmouth, is hosting a “Mustachio Bashio” in honor of Movember with the funds raised going toward prostate cancer awareness and education.