JOHNSON CITY (November 29, 2012) – A “Movember” battle is coming down to the wire at East Tennessee State University’s James H. Quillen College of Medicine, with treasured facial hair on the line against flowing locks that have been described as … Fabio-like. Regardless of the outcome, there are two real winners: All who suffer from or fight to end prostate cancer and testicular cancer.
“Movember” is the label applied to a global campaign, held each November, when men agree to go with unshaven lips in exchange for donations to their Movember “teams.” In 2011, the non-profit organization raised $126 million for prostate and testicular cancer awareness and research.
Jeremiah Gaddy, a second-year medical student from Asheville, N.C., formed a team at Quillen in 2011 that raised $400. This time around, he set the bar higher.
“There were about 10 of us last year,” Gaddy said. “This year we said, ‘We can do better than that.’”
The Quillen group recruited more than 30 students to participate this month and sweetened the incentive by posing a challenge to Dr. Tom Kwasigroch, the associate dean for Student Affairs at Quillen. Kwasigroch is also director of the medical human gross anatomy program at ETSU and has taught every medical student who has graduated from the school.
Kwasigroch sports a beard and mustache and hasn’t shaved his facial hair in 41 years. Students proposed a wager to Kwasigroch: If they raised more money than Kwasigroch for Movember, he would have to shave away his facial hair. Kwasigroch agreed.
On Nov. 28, the students had topped $4,700 and were closing in on their goal of at least $5,000, with Kwasigroch far behind. As part of the wager, another second-year medical student, Philip Milam, said he would shave his head bald if Kwasigroch raised at least $5,000.
“Everybody knows Philip because he’s got this long, flowing hair, and everybody gives him a hard time about it. It’s sort of Fabio-like in appearance,” said Gaddy, referencing the Italian model who has graced the cover of countless romance novels.
Gaddy hasn’t shaved all month and is proud of the fruits. But he pointed out that a couple of students have reached handlebar mustache territory.
“There are a couple of guys who have some serious mustaches,” Gaddy said.
Gaddy said it’s been a fun experience to join his classmates in laying down their razors for a month. But in the end, he pointed out that Movember is serious business. Prostate cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among men behind lung cancer, according to the American Cancer Society.
“Prostate cancer in particular affects so many men, but there needs to more funding for awareness campaigns, education and research,” Gaddy said. “Movember has been an awesome experience. You celebrate being a man and bring attention to men’s health by wearing a mustache for a month.”