An annual campaign to bring awareness of men’s prostate cancer is in full swing this month and next month. The Dare to Flash a Stache campaign is hosted by Winchester area agency Black Walnut Group, and is supported by Prostate Cancer Network Ottawa.
This year’s campaign will raise money for two different programs. One is the Cancer Care Coach program of the Winchester District Memorial Hospital Foundation, and the other is the prostate cancer research program at the Ottawa Hospital. Money raised will be split evenly between the two programs, with Ottawa’s portion of the donations being matched 10-fold by the Ottawa Hospital Foundation.
A poster distributed by Black Walnut Group strongly encourages both men and women to get involved in spreading awareness and raising funds, reading in part, “We dare you men to grow beards, or shave them off, and to solicit friends and others to support you. Ladies, don’t feel left out, decorate a stick-on moustache and wear it with pride.”
The Times met with Tom Clapp from Black Walnut Group, who shared his story. Tom is a prostate cancer survivor, and he largely credits local doctor, John Burke, for catching his cancer early and saving his life. This is because Dr. Burke regularly checked Tom’s prostate-specific antigen (PSA) levels, which is a test that is as effective in identifying prostate cancer in men, as a mammogram is for testing breast cancer in women. However, Tom told the Times that many doctors do not actively encourage their patients to get PSA tests, which cost $35 each, unless the doctor decides to waive the fee. One of the many goals of the Dare to Flash a Stache campaign is to help raise awareness of the importance of PSA tests in catching prostate cancer early. Tom has even had people thank him for telling them about PSA tests after they go for a test and catch their own prostate cancer early.
Donations are being accepted at various Foodland locations throughout the region, including the locations in Winchester, Osgoode, Greely, Russell, Ingleside, and Iroquois. There will be a fundraising concert at Stone Crop Acres Winery & Vineyard on November 13 at 7pm, featuring live entertainment, refreshments, and food available for purchase. To end the campaign, there will be a Wind-Up Celebration at the Winchester Foodland location on December 4 at 10am, which will feature music, prizes, food, and refreshments and will see the recognition of the top individual and group fundraisers.
Tom told the Times that Dare to Flash a Stache was born after he became interested in doing a “Movember” campaign, but he found out he would have no say in how funds were allocated. “So we said, to heck with you, we’ll start our own!” Tom joked. Last year, the campaign raised about $12,000. As a cancer survivor, Tom is hopeful that, one day, men will feel just as comfortable as women when it comes to talking about their health, and cancer in particular.
Registration for Dare to Flash a Stache is available online at bit.ly/DTFAS2021. Tickets for the concerts on October 30 and November 13 can be purchased from https://www.harmonyconcerts.ca. Those seeking more information about Dare to Flash a Stache can call 613-774-3565 or visit www.daretoflashastache.ca.
Brandon Mayer, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The North Grenville Times