Guest Post from Live Better With Cancer
Looking around, it seems like November is the month of moustaches and furry faces. The men we know and love are suddenly appearing with handlebar moustaches we never thought possible – and it’s got us thinking.
At Live Better With, we’ve been focusing more and more about men’s health. We aim to make day-to-day life with cancer a little bit easier, with 1000s of products, expert guides, tips and content – all recommended by our community. If you’re living with cancer, we’re the go-to destination for practical support.
Lately, though, we’ve come to realise that we could be doing more to support men living with cancer. Live Better With serves a diverse community of cancer patients, but the people we hear from the most – and, as a result, engage with – are almost all women. So why aren’t we hearing from the men out there? And what can we do to help reach them?
The Rise of the Moustache
First of all, let’s talk about those moustaches. Why do men of all ages spontaneously stop
shaving as the weather gets cold? Chances are they’re doing it to support men’s health and
raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancers.
Movember, the men’s health movement sweeping the globe, encourages men of all ages to
grow a moustache (or a “Mo”) to raise awareness and funds in support of men’s cancers.
“Grow a Mo, Save a Bro” is Movember’s well-known tagline, and men from all walks of life
choose to participate every year.
“A little facial hair goes a long way,” the Movember Foundation explains. “More than just
follicles on your face, your Mo is a ribbon – reminding the people in your life of the
importance of men’s health.”
Men Living With Cancer: Shifting Our Focus
Movember is a great and important cause. But during the month of Movember, as thousands
of men are growing moustaches, there are thousands more who can’t. At Live Better With,
we’ve written extensively about hair loss due to cancer – but too often, we’ve neglected to
consider how men with cancer might feel.
A few weeks ago, we got the wake-up call we needed, and it came from a concerned man
who took the time to email in. This is what he said:
“When I went through my first chemotherapy 9 years ago, I lost all my hair. But the
worst bit about it was that I lost my trademark moustache.
Nobody knew me, people walked past me and didn’t recognise me. I felt like a
stranger in another world. It was really depressing.
So, come on you people at Live Better With, spare a thought for the males! We have
feelings too when it comes to living and dealing with cancer.”
But also – great point.
So this month, we’re changing things up. Because, as our community members so rightly
pointed out, men’s health – and men’s feelings – matter, too:
“My partner has half a face of beard now due to radiation, and we have stopped
noticing, but I do sometimes wonder what others must think!?”
“Lost hair at the start of chemo, just growing back. He hates it as when he looks in
the mirror it reminds him he is ill and doesn’t look like himself. I was very surprised it
worried him so much. I’m very glad it’s growing back for his sake. Especially
eyebrows, eyelashes, and his beard. Beginning to look his old self.”
“No one seems to care about men who lose their hair due to cancer. It must be very
hard for some of them to deal with and a lot more needs to be done to support them.”
When we put this out to our community on Facebook and asked for their input, a woman
named Mae Lou wrote:
“Thank you. I for one needed to hear that. I have never even thought of that – the
mustache and all. Cancer makes you feel so fragile and vulnerable mentally and
emotionally. Add physical changes on top of that and you are just on overload.”
– Mae Lou
It’s Not “Just Hair”
We know that hair is important to our sense of self. What we look like has a big effect on
how we feel, and, in turn, on how we behave in the world.
Hair loss due to cancer may be one of the toughest parts of your cancer experience. While
some people find it very freeing to say goodbye to their hair, others find the experience
upsetting and emotional.
This is true for women. But it’s also true for men.
In fact, it may be a bit harder for men to talk about how they feel when they’re living with
cancer. As the Movember Foundation knows all too well, conversations about men’s needs
and men’s health and needs are often non-existent.
We noticed this ourselves on Facebook. Even though our community members were keen to
talk about men’s experiences with hair loss due to cancer, we realised that many of the
people writing in were women talking about their husbands. Why aren’t men more active in
seeking the help they need?
Our 5 Best Community Tips For Blokes
We realised that men might not know about the fantastic range of products that are available
to help them live better with cancer. Whether it’s hair loss or chemo nausea or sore, itchy
skin from radiation, we can help to find a collection of products that will make a real
difference in day-to-day life.
So in honour of Movember, and all the men growing moustaches or recovering from cancer
treatment, here are our 5 best tips for living better with hair loss (for men!)
- Don’t be afraid of hair-growth shampoo.
Hair-growth shampoo can go a long way in helping to re-grow your hair after cancer
treatment. Brands like Nioxin and FAST Shampoo come community-recommended
with great reviews. Opt for this in the shower, and you’ll see some re-growth in no
- Hair fibres are your friend.
A little sprinkle goes a long way. Hair fibres like these Toppik ones are designed to
stay in place through wind, rain, and any manner of weather – or sweat-related –
crises. As your hair is regrowing, sprinkle a little bit of Toppik on any balder patches
for a fuller look (this will work on patchy beards, too!)
- “Makeup” isn’t just for girls.
Losing your eyebrows and eyelashes can be distressing. Both make a big difference
to your appearance (even if you’ve never given them much thought). Strengthening
products like RapidBrow and RapidLash can help to grow your eyebrows and lashes
in a subtle, effective way. They can restore thickness and growth discreetly, and help
get your face back to normal.
- Try a hat.
There are plenty of great men’s hats for those days when you’d rather not be out and
about bald. Try something soft like the men’s Bold Beanie for a neutral, comfortable
- Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise.
Your skin can take a beating during chemotherapy and radiation. It’s important to
start moisturising regularly if you want to keep your skin feeling comfortable and
encourage hair growth once your treatment ends. Choose an unscented moisturiser
like this Nourishing Face Cream from Bentley Organic to keep your skin healthy and
hydrated (bonus: it will also make you feel more comfortable).
No matter your situation this Movember, we wish you all the best, and encourage you to start
a conversation about men’s health with your families and friends. It’s never too early to start
talking prevention and good health.