Tell Your Story | Bringing Men’s Health Issues To The Forefront. Mo’On!
Editor’s Note: Movember - You've heard of it, you know it has something to do with adorable and creative men growing a mustache during the month of November. Correct. And here's why: The Movember Foundation is a global organization changing the face of men’s health, specifically prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health. For 30 days a community of men across the globe join forces by each growing moustaches for the entire month of November to raise funds.
Since 2003 the Movember community has raised $550 million and is currently funding over 800 year round programs in 21 countries. This work is saving and improving the lives of men affected by prostate cancer, testicular cancer and mental health issues. The widespread campaign also serves as a catalyst to continue to spark conversation surrounding men's health issues.
Justin Mills, leader of the Stache and His Whiskers Mo team, opened up to Conscious Mag about what the Movember community and challenge has done for him in his life. Read his story below.
As the heat from the sun pierce through the blinds onto my face I begin to roll over, my mouth is sticky, my breathe thick, my brain is hazy, and as I try to swallow I reach for my blue jeans. Yep, the harsh truth hits me; I smoked a whole pack of cigarettes the night before. As I reach for the half empty beer on the night stand to provide relief to my arid mouth, taking a large swig, a member of my Marlboro family comes back to greet me. As the hops soaked butt caresses my lip I instantly start to gag. Dragging my beaten down body to the bathroom I catch a glimpse of the mirror. A smirk comes across my face as I start rubbing my prize winning keg that has been fermenting for the better part of a decade.
This was life; this was what it was all about, working during the week, and forgetting what happened on the weekends. I can’t tell you what really caused me to trade beer bongs for bike rides, late nights for long travels, or midnight fast food runs for juice fasts, but I can tell you there were several little things. A cute girl in college commenting on how she would have dated the high school me, a Vegas trip in which I was finally the one that couldn’t keep up, a best friend that to this day still impresses me with his insane post college transformation, an expired TB test that gave me a false positive, many hours of reflection on what I was trying to achieve in the precious little time I have on this planet, reminiscing on the all the good times I had with the love ones that were taken way to soon from cancers, heart disease, and suicide, and finally a little organization that first gave me a place to showcase my mo’growing abilities and eventually brought men’s health issues to the forefront of my conversations.
I was introduced to the Movember Organization in 2011 by one of my college mentors. I was unaware of the purpose behind the organization and was simply sold on the idea of being able to use my unique abilities to develop an epic stache quickly. During my first Movember, despite the negative feedback from my girlfriend at the time, I grew the most hideous mustache. I have to say that there were times in which I avoided looking at myself in the mirror. It was my first time and I was still learning the ropes and it showed. While it may have sparked up several conversations with my friends my fundraising efforts netted me about $0 and that was being generous.
By the time 2012 rolled around I was excited and decided that a little effort needed to accompany this year’s Movember campaign, both in regards to fundraising and mo growing.
To my surprise, Movember 2012 was much more than a few laughs with friends. 2012 is when I started to realize that getting old is a bitch and my health is really the only thing in life that matters. I went to the doctor to get my check-up, this is huge because I hate doctors, hospitals, and anything that is associated with death. This is also the year I started cutting back on my drinking, started going weeks without smoking a cigarette, and started attending the gym consistently. The 2012 campaign ended with me raising about $60 dollars, but more importantly I started learning more about the purpose of the organization.
Early on in 2013 my little brother put me up to the challenge of completing a Tough Mudder, a 13-15 mile obstacle race. My idea of fun is not paying someone to go running but since I had several friends interested in these types of events I decided to go for it. What excited me even more is that this race was in the middle of Movember as well as close to my birthday. What is healthier than running 13-15 miles over hills and through obstacles?
In 2013, I decided to use my new photo shop abilities to superimpose my face and moustache onto famous photos This quickly gathered attention from my friends and almost immediately generated donations. My friends and family loved the Movember campaign and showed it by donating to the cause. I never thought I would gander that much attention but my network was willing to give $600 dollars to the cause but better than that, people started asking me about the organization and overall health in general.
2013 was an amazing year for health, wellness, and achievements. I completed my first ToughMudder during Movember, I won Mr. Movember for my category dressed as Mr. Monopoly, I started going months without smoking instead of weeks, and I lost over 20 pounds of excess weight. I was happier and healthier then I have felt since high school.
Now we come to 2014, this will be the last Movember in my 20s. On November 24th I leave my young adult years behind and turn into an “adult”. Ever since I can remember every teacher and/or “grown-up” I have had a relationship with told me that I would grow up to do some amazing things. As I sit on the cusp of 30 years old I feel as though I have not come close to my potential or the potential that all these believers had in me. So as I make my way to another Movember, I felt like this was my time for a dare to be great moment, to do something that I never thought possible, overcome what others choose not to, to really push myself to the edge to see what I can accomplish. I have decided to build my Movember campaign around a journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Santa Monica Pier via Bicycle.
I want to turn heads, show people that there are a million and one excuses of why you can’t accomplish something, and only one reason that will make you want to try. I was once pushing 230 pounds and 25% body fat has been reduced to just over 190 pounds with about 15% fat. I have a passion for life, living, and experiencing more of what this world has to offer then the bottom of a glass and the inside of a toilet.
I am just shy of 30 years old and my wisdom is green, but I suppose green wisdom might be useful to someone with no wisdom. “The self is finite, you time is precious. Spend your days finding enjoyment and realize with every sacrifice births opportunities.”
Learn. Connect. Act.
Learn more about Movember
Connect via Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram
Act by joining Justin's Movember team, The Stache and His Wiskers, for updates on his moustache growing efforts for Movember and his bike ride from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Santa Monica Pier. All donations are accepted via his personal Movember page.
From the Editor
At Conscious, we are inspired by remarkable people, and so we set out to tell stories that highlight real human interactions and human dignity. You can read more stories like this when you pick up your copy of Conscious Magazine. Subscribe today via our Conscious Shop and subscribe to Conscious Updates.
Images: Justin Mills