With support from JGH doctors, The Moustaches grow facial hair to raise funds for ovarian cancer
Every year during the month of November, men around the world grow moustaches to raise funds for prostate cancer. But a group of men in senior management at CIUSSS West-Central Montreal decided to use this year’s campaign for a different cause.
Instead of collecting money for a cancer that affects men, they decided to deploy their efforts in solidarity with women. They have ditched their razors all month to raise funds for ovarian cancer care and research at the Jewish General Hospital.
“After last year’s fundraiser, we asked ourselves what we could do this year. And we thought, ‘Why not men helping women?’” says Associate Nursing Director Serge Cloutier, who got the ball rolling with CIUSSS Assistant Executive Director Dan Gabay and André Poitras, Clinical-Administrative Coordinator in Emergency, Medical and Surgical Intensive Care and Cardiovascular Care.
Their idea quickly caught on: 17 men from senior management joined the campaign along with CIUSSS board president Alan Maislin. Three physicians also got on board, including Dr. Walter Gotlieb, Chief of the JGH Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Division of Gynecologic Oncology.
Dr. Gotlieb praises this year’s initiative for the symbolic value of men choosing to focus on a type of cancer that affects women. “They’re attaching importance to a cancer that men will never have. I appreciated that.”
Ovarian cancer will affect an estimated 3,100 women in Canada this year; it’s the most lethal gynecological malignancy, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. The disease is often very advanced by the time it’s detected, underscoring the need for funding to tackle care, research and treatment. “We need personalized medicine and targeted therapies so that more women can benefit from innovative treatments,” Dr. Gotlieb explains.
Dr. Gotlieb himself has given up shaving for the month in the interest of the fundraising cause. “I’ve got something hairy going on between my nose and my upper lip, but I’m not sure how to describe it,” he says jokingly.
The managers’ collective effort has also offered an opportunity for team-building. Calling themselves The Moustaches, the all-male group created t-shirts featuring a white moustache and bright pink lips against a black background.
The group’s camaraderie has come as a welcome relief during the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic. During their regular online meetings, participants rib one another about their facial hair and trade quips about becoming Tom Selleck lookalikes.
“We really have fun,” Mr. Cloutier says. “We wanted to mobilize and create bonds among ourselves for a good cause, which this one certainly is.”
Shaun McMahon, Manager of Communications and Media Relations, says he was thrilled when Mr. Cloutier asked him to join the campaign of the men in management, “who always find caring and creative ways to make a difference.”
“It’s heartwarming to pay tribute to all the brave women in our lives. To my young son and daughter, this moustache may be nothing more than a fuzzy new decoration on Daddy. But to many others, it has quickly become an important conversation starter for a critical cause,” he says.
Last year, the first edition of the CIUSSS’s November fundraiser last year collected nearly $18,000 for prostate cancer. The group this year has set its goal at $25,000. Donations will go to the JGH Fund for Ovarian Cancer and will be used for research and patient care.
You can donate through the JGH Foundation and see the full list of participants.
Moustaches t-shirts are available for $20 at the Milly Lande Boutique, in the main lobby of the JGH, every day from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. They can also reserved by calling 514-340-8216. Proceeds go to the JGH Fund for Ovarian Cancer.