Grow a mustache for men’s cancer

My dad and his brothers lived a tough life growing up decades ago in the working-class town of Canonsburg, Pa.

Struthers and Campbell remind me of the place.

When my brothers and cousins and I were younger, we’d keep our ears open near the pool-table room to hear their tales of growing up.

Of the four brothers, Uncle Butch was the toughest. I’m sure he wasn’t appreciated or understood by all in town. But if he was in your corner, you were always covered. No matter what.

In fact, the name “Butch” came from his bruising abilities. He was born Andrew, but Butch seemed more appropriate.

As tough as he was, he was not tougher than prostate cancer.

It cut him down at 65 when he was still as much a force as he was in his Canonsburg youth.

Look at a group of six guys; one of them will be affected by prostate cancer; three of them will have other cancers.

Welcome to “Movember” — it’s “November” with a “mustache.”

Movember is for male cancer awareness — what October is for breast cancer.

Like many good guy ideas, this one started over a few beers in 2003. It’s now an international movement led in the U.S. by The Prostate Cancer Foundation and The Lance Armstrong Foundation.

The idea is this: Grow a mustache for a month and raise money and awareness via that mustache, which the Movember leaders label “a little bit of luxury.”

In the Mahoning Valley, the movement is led by William Leonard’s Extraordinary Gentleman salon in downtown Youngstown. (Full disclosure: my haircut place.)

“Guys put off anything for themselves,” said salon owner Lisa Reali.

“It seems like men’s health issues are a hush-hush thing. But if we can bring some humor into it, and have some fun, hopefully we can bring it out in the open.

“Men are our fathers and sons, and we want you around,” she said.

Lisa has 16 men signed up to grow a mustache. I’m one. Will you become another?

Lisa’s idea came from a similar effort launched a couple years ago by the guys at WFMJ. Lisa picked up on it this year.

Her list includes downtown radio staples Lucky Penny and Louie Free, Jim Tropea from Tropea’s Fine Pastries in Campbell, Andrew Labedz from The Real Time Digi Mob band and Turning Technologies’ Howard Tattrie.

Along with her fellow salon stylists Paul Polito and Carlos Morales, we’ll all start Nov. 1 as clean-shaven guys. As the month grows, so will our “little bit of luxury.”

The Movember movement, though extremely serious, is laden with humor because “it’s a guy thing.” The website offers photos of mustache styles, including “The Trucker,” “Abracadabra,” “The Boxcar,” “Under Cover Brother” and more. (No, there’s no “Porn Star” — this is gentlemanly, please.)

Fundraising will take on various forms:

You can sponsor the men with a donation.

You can donate online.

You can donate at Lisa’s salon or also come down Nov. 15 for a cut-a-thon, where proceeds will go toward the effort.

Throughout the month, you can watch photos of us on Lisa’s page:

But if you’re a guy, consider growing a little bit of luxury with us.

One in six of us will have to fight this. Butch was one of the six and had all the fight in the world. But prostate cancer was too much.

The rest have a chance to help those guys.

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