Directly Speaking - The No Shave November Challenge

by Scott A. Meyers, Executive Vice President
December 8, 2014

I know this is the December issue of KeePosted, and there’s not much any of you can do about this past November, but I wanted to share some thoughts for next November. I’m not sure how long the “No Shave November” or “Brovember” or “Movember” (whatever you want to call it) has been used to bring attention to men’s health issues, but it seems like last year and this year the momentum, at least from the television media, has picked up and many celebrities and men in general are not shaving for the 30 days.

For those who know me, you may remember that I normally sport a mustache and goatee, and for the past couple of summers I have tried to grow a beard while on an extended vacation or to honor the Blackhawks’ Championship run in 2013 (playoff beard). The handful of you that may have seen those beards know it is a struggle for me to cover any other space on my face with a reasonable layer of hair. But this year, I’ve done the “No Shave November”, and here’s a picture of the pitiful specimen I was able to raise.

December 1st, this baby comes off and it’s back to face you’ve known since 1997 (the year of the goatee). But my facial follicle challenges are not the point. “No Shave November” is meant to raise awareness of two significant health issues for men, testicular cancer and prostate cancer – the latter being a disease a vast majority of men will face sometime in their life.

So as health professionals, why shouldn’t male pharmacists take a stand every November and do their best, even if it is pretty meager, to bring attention to these two diseases?  In fact, I think all male health professionals should pick up the call and observe “No Shave November”. Think about the attention wearing pink in October brings. Not only do the ladies wear pink, but you see professional, college and even a few well off high school football teams sporting pink on the playing field. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not asking our female counterparts to stop shaving legs and armpits (that is, if you usually do) during this month, but maybe someone needs to create some sort of button that the ladies could wear (perhaps a mustache button since mustaches now appear on almost everything) that would support the cause!

“No Shave November” really got me thinking that health awareness should be an ongoing campaign. Anything that health care professionals, and yes, pharmacists qualify and are perhaps some of the most visible on a daily basis, can do every day to bring attention to a preventable or treatable diseases in a positive manner should be considered. Wearing pink t-shirts or dress shirts under your white coats in October, not shaving in November, taking the ice bucket challenge in the summer, etc., would bring more attention to these diseases and perhaps even save a life or two.

As pharmacists, we have an identity problem. The pharmacists most people know sell them their medicine and work in a retail outlet. They may be thought of as a health care para-professional or even just a storekeeper, even though they can and do so much more. By observing each “health issue awareness month” celebration, we all can demonstrate to our patients that pharmacists are health care professionals who care!  And as I mentioned earlier, we might even save a life by wearing pink, not shaving or whatever the monthly observance calls for! Think about taking this challenge.

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