No Shave November: Crowdfunding Cancer Research With Body Hair

Making charitable contributions makes us feel good. Especially in dealing with life-threatening diseases such as cancer, donating money that supports research into new treatments increases our ability to help family and friends who now or in the future may have the illness, maybe even ourselves. The male Today show hosts Matt Lauer, Al Roker, Willie Geist and Carson Daly are leading the charge for men's health.

This novel way to have fun and remind ourselves to make such contributions is No Shave November. Each of us avoids shaving for 1 to 30 days this month and makes a contribution equal to (or lots higher than) we would have spent on haircuts during that time. And we can also encourage friends who comment on our extra hair that they too should make a contribution. More hair, more donations, more research, and hopefully more cures. It makes sense and creates a fun social experience.

Where did this seemingly bizarre notion come from? In November, 1999, some guys in an Adelaide pub in Australia decided to help support men's health (mostly prostate cancer) by growing moustaches and creating Movember (moustache + November = Movember). In 2004 it became in Australia and New Zealand, and by 2007 it had moved to the U.S. and Canada. In 2013 it partnered with the American Cancer Society as No Shave November and expanded it to include all cancers: men's, women's and children. Somewhere it also acquired another epithet, Noshember.

But No Shave November also relates to an experience we have all seen: Patients battling cancer (all genders and ages) can experience severe hair loss with chemotherapy (and sometimes radiation treatments as well). These friends and family are still as attractive (bald is beautiful, since beauty is in the eyes and lips), but need support from us to reassure them. The No Shave November movement helps to relate our support to this undesired side effect of cancer treatment. The Today show hosts are to be commended for publicizing and participating in this project.

So here are my tips for November.

• Go at least a day (or 30) without shaving.

• Think about the importance of giving our personal support to family or friends battling cancer or other serious life-threatening diseases, and especially if they are experiencing hair loss.

• Consider recommending Look Good Feel Better to women undergoing chemotherapy who have loss of hair.

• Make a donation (easy to do online) to a charity fighting to overcome cancer or other serious disease (think American Cancer Society, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, Cancer Schmancer or others). Even if you didn't avoid shaving, think about making that donation.

• Consider donating your hair to help make wigs for patients battling alopecia (hair loss) from cancer treatments at Locks of Love, Wigs for Kids or others.

• If you ever have to experience hair loss from cancer treatments, remember how handsome or beautiful people can be even when they are hair-deficient (think about women like Melissa Etheridge, Joan Lunden, Natalie Portman, or Demi Moore, or men like Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis or Bryan Cranston). And know that there are programs that can help you.

No Shave November is your time to have a little fun and give a little (or lots) money to help others. Charity will make you feel good.

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