Little house, big mo’
After going to the gym at some point last January, Andrew Myles discovered that something wasn’t right with his body. Unsure of what it was, he got himself checked out and after a series of tests he received news that no male at the age of 20 ever thought he would hear.
He had testicular cancer.
“It will floor you. It’s something you don’t think you’re going to hear at age 20,” said Myles, a third-year geography student and a residence life don in Laurier’s Little House Residence. “Everyone goes through that phase that you think you’re invincible and that it’s not going to happen to them.
“But you know that it has to happen to someone, and it turned out that someone was me.”
Myles’ case, unlike so many others, was particularly lucky. They caught the cancer early enough, so all that was required was a quick surgery. No one knows this better than Myles himself.
“I’m so incredibly lucky to be living the time that I live in because even couple decades ago, if you had testicular cancer that was it. It was death sentence,” he explained. “There were no known cures; they didn’t know how to fix it. Now, in my case, I didn’t have chemo, I didn’t have radiation, just a little bit of surgery — that was it.”
He fought it and won. And he doesn’t want anyone to go through the same experience.
Myles, along with many other males at Laurier and across Canada, have stretched their hair-growing muscles and are sporting a moustache. As of press time, Myles had raised $3,515 — nearly $2,500-more than anyone else at WLU — for the Movember cause, a month where men grow the ‘mo and raise money for men’s health awareness, particularly for prostate cancer.
As of Tuesday night, Myles had raised the most money in Movember Canada’s ‘Big Moustache on Campus’ (BMOC) category, which includes all Canadian student teams.
In total, Myles’ team had raised $3,595, the highest amount at Laurier and good enough to crack the top ten totals in the BMOC category nationally.
According to the Laurier network page on the Movember website, the teams from Laurier have collectively raised $22,361 for the cause as of Tuesday evening, which puts the WLU network 30th in Canada, seventh among university networks.
Teams from across Canada, meanwhile, have combined to raise $13,992,069 as of Tuesday night, the highest total of any country globally.
The Movember cause, which originated in Australia, has picked up significant momentum in countries such as Canada and the United States, and university campuses are no exception.
“I think the most important part is to spread the word that men’s health is something to talk about, it’s not something we bury deep down, or we’re embarrassed about,” continued Myles, noting that keeping a positive attitude through such an experience is important. “It’s something that we need to actively seek out.”
Myles didn’t know how to talk about his situation, so he felt Movember was the perfect way to do just that.
Within the first six hours of setting up his Movember page and opening it up for donations, Myles’ team received about $1,000.
“I saw Movember as a way to educate people, let them know my story,” stressed Myles. “It’s not just about prostate cancer; it’s not just about ‘old people’s’ diseases.”
For Myles, the outpour he has seen from the community has been astonishing, and he’s hoping more people will learn about men’s health, whether that be physical or mental. He noted that Movember has shifted its mandate slightly to advocate for men’s mental health.
“There was no other way to put, it was just amazing. [Men’s health is] kind of taking the back seat to breast cancer and other things like that, [but] I don’t think any of them can take a back seat,” he said. “All of them are incredibly important.”
When asked what he thought about the Laurier community pouring in the donations, Myles responded by saying, “It’s amazing see how this community always pulls together for a common cause.”
According to Myles, despite the fact that Movember is primarily focused on prostate cancer — a disease that men usually receive later in life, male students shouldn’t forget about the dangers of testicular cancer. He stressed the fact that everyone should be checked out by their family doctor on a yearly basis and to live healthy lifestyle so other cancers, such as prostate cancer, can be avoided easier.
“Testicular cancer is the number one cancer in young men. So that’s something to keep in the back of your mind,” he warned. “Go get checked.”
Sitting on a couch in front of the Little House crest in the common lounge of that residence, Myles sports a skim handlebar moustache, but it’s a work in process.
“It isn’t growing too good, but it’s getting there,” he laughed, adding that he’s seen some impressive moustaches so far.
But to the female students on campus who cringe at the sight of usually half-grown moustaches across campus and in the community, Myles has one message for them.
“Yeah they can be disgusting …but if you look at the bigger picture and what that moustache represents, then you’re looking at a quality guy who’s got one on his face,” he said. “He stands for something, he stands for men’s health.
“To the ladies out there, if you see a man with a moustache, I would be locking him down. He seems like a pretty good guy.”