KAMLOOPS - Every morning in November, Melanie McConnell woke up, made herself a cup of coffee and began getting ready for work, an ordinary routine for a working woman.
But somewhere between that first cup of coffee and arriving to work, she made the time to draw a moustache on herself. McConnell, 42, says since she can't grow a mustache, she came up with this idea to help raise awareness for Movemember and prostate cancer.
"It’s a great cause that’s worthy of exposure," she says. "It just kind of came to me one day. I thought 'I can’t grow a mustache, how can I participate? I’ll just draw one on.'"
During November, men across the world grow mustaches to raise awareness for men's health issues, including prostate cancer. Kamloops' mayor Peter Milobar even got into a friendly battle this year with the mayor of Prince George to see which city could raise the most money for Movember.
McConnell says although she received strange looks from time to time, people were generally supportive of her awareness campaign.
"My husband’s not the hugest fan of the actual moustache, although I think he kind of likes the idea," she laughs. "The reception’s been very, very positive for the most part."
This was McConnell's first year 'sporting a mo' to raise money for the Canadian Cancer Society. She collected donations from friends, family and colleagues and although she raised under $1,000, she hopes the trend will catch on in the years to come.
"I just kind of wanted to get the ball rolling," she says. "I think I’m going to make it an annual thing and maybe expand my fundraising activity next year."
McConnell says she's had family members who have battled different kinds of cancer, but she knew she wanted to raise awareness around prostate cancer when she met a man in his 90s who had been through it.
"My husband’s grandmother, just before she passed, she was seeing this wonderful man, he was just lovely and he had had a battle with prostate cancer," she says. "He sat me down and told me the story of his struggle... I’ve never witnessed an old man cry before and it just tugged my heart strings. That was the first time that I thought I need to get involved and do something about this."
More than anything, McConnell wants to see the conversation around prostate cancer open up more.
"I think men talking about it more would be good," she says. "We know so much about women’s cancer because women just seem to be more expressive and more open about their bodies than men are."
For Movember 2017, she's hoping to create a GoFundMe page to rake in more donations for the Canadian Cancer Society and is urging women to join the movement.
"I would like to invite other women to get on board and sport a mo’ for Movember," she says. "That would be wonderful, then I wouldn’t have to be a freak all on my own. My youngest daughter’s best friend told me that she would like to participate next year. She’s 13 so I think that that would be really special."
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