Month of Staches at Greene Tweed

by:Pragati Verma

The hairiest season of the year just got over at Greene Tweed. Throughout November, several volunteers at Greene Tweed grew facial hair to show support for the annual ‘Movember’ mustache movement, established to help increase awareness about men’s health issues, such as prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and suicide prevention.

As we entered December and our participants grabbed razors, we asked a few to share their before/after pictures, experiences, and what motivated them to participate.

Jeremy Midwinter, VP and CFO

Movember is something I have been aware of for some time now, going back to when I was still in the UK and I had always asserted that I would take part.  I am very proud that as an organization we chose Movember as our initiative to promote men’s health, I believe we have a social responsibility to ensure we create awareness of all aspects of an employee’s health and wellness.

I know for myself, in the past I have had the tendency to defer scheduled check-ups, not talk about any health items I am feeling and have somewhat of an “I’m a healthy individual, I’m fine” attitude.

Then 9 years ago, my father was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer and after 3 years had metastasized.  Admittedly I had no awareness of prostate cancer, with the fact that it impacts 1 in 8 men.  My Dad has had a rollercoaster ride over those 9 years, from a less invasive medication of hormone and trial drug treatments, to back in 2021 commencing Chemotherapy and now on a trial radiotherapy drug (leaving him radioactive for 2 weeks after each treatment), we all know that at this time, the treatment is deferring the inevitable.

One aspect that we did not appreciate during this journey is the mental health side of having cancer, this is something that Dad has struggled with and continues to.  He is someone that is always on the go, having had his own businesses throughout his life and always taken care of his health and an aspect of ‘why me’ & ‘how long have I got’, is always at the top of his mind and something he continues to have internal battles with, which is the hardest part on him and the family.

My advice to everyone, is never to take your health for granted, if you are concerned with anything, be open and talk, ensuring that you seek professional medical advice early, but also with friends and family, you often find that you are not alone.  Just remember, for anything health related, the earlier is always better.

Finally, with regards to my moustache (where I tried to copy Henry Cavill, will leave it to you to judge how successful I was)……it certainly has provoked reactions from friends and family, although most thought that it was a look that I could not & should not keep!

William Hughes, Senior Human Resources Business Partner

I decided to participate in Movember this year to help raise awareness for prostate and testicular cancer, men’s mental health, and suicide prevention. Fortunately, I nor anyone in my family has been impacted by prostate or testicular cancer, but we have been impacted by cancer, mental health issues, and attempted suicide.

Cancer regardless of the type is a nasty horrible disease that impacts not only the patient but their loved ones as well.  I lost my mom to lung cancer at 62 years old, a dear friend to pancreatic cancer at 55 years old, and currently have a friend going through treatment for kidney cancer.  There is not a day that goes by that I do not miss my mom and feel robbed of all the years that she could have lived.  All the memories, birthdays, and especially around this time of year, the holidays, that we no longer share together. Sure, I have the wonderful memories of the 38 years we had together, but nothing can replace her touch. It is critical to take advantage of whatever types of preventative testing is available. It can literally save your life. While I am not a cancer expert, early detection can make a huge difference in being able to be cured or give you more years of life.

I don’t believe that mental health issues get enough coverage in our society. I think people still believe that mental health issues are taboo. They are not something that generally come up in conversations. In my experience, people are not generally going to say “Hey, I am feeling down today, I am struggling with some issues lately” etc. No one wants to be labeled or judged by what they might be going through. No one wants to show up at work or to their personal commitments seeming weak or not at their best. But sometimes, we need to give ourselves space for self-care.  When I was around five years old, my nan tried to take her own life by taking some kind of pills. Luckily, she was rushed to the ER in time, survived, and lived to be 82 years old. As a child, that scared me so much that 45 years later it is still a vivid memory for me.

I share all of this because my hope is that by sharing, someone will get preventative testing for cancer, take mental health and suicide prevention seriously and someone’s loved ones won’t have to experience the pain and loss that I have experienced. We are all more alike than different, so let’s pause and reflect on what you may do to fight cancer, mental health issues, and suicide prevention, not just for men but for all.

Shannon Swarb, Quality Supervisor

I set out at the beginning of November to raise awareness in the memory of my later mother and uncle. I lost my mother to pancreatic cancer six years ago and my uncle was bipolar and committed suicide.

Like so many others, my family has been personally touched by mental health issues and cancer. My late uncle, for example, suffered in silence and didn’t seek help. There are so many horror stories out there of someone with health issues that could have been treated.

I learned about Movember about five years ago.

These activities sound like fun but they are very important because they give us the opportunity to talk openly about things that matter. Men are aware of their health issues but tend to brush them aside and ignore them. They usually don’t discuss it with family or male friends until it is severe. If men would realize they can ask for help and not feel the stigma, my uncle might still be alive.

That’s why I’m now ensuring that we are able to openly share our emotions. I discuss this with my family, especially my son, because times are changing, and men shouldn’t hold back. And growing facial hair for Movember has provided me with an opportunity to raise awareness. My co-workers and friends have started calling me Doc Holiday since then and I like the new nickname. Whenever my friends ask why I haven’t shaved, I explain what I am doing and why.

All the fun activities aside, the main thing is just raising awareness and letting your loved ones know that you are there for them. And if you aren’t comfortable reaching out for help, start with baby steps — Reach out to one man that you really trust, and hopefully, that will break down barriers.