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Movember events aim to raise awareness, and donations, for men's health and wellness

'If you’re not afraid to talk about it, it’s about making one person more aware and getting tested themselves,' says Jeff Morrison

An upcoming fundraising campaign in Guelph for Movember isn’t just about raising money, it’s about starting conversations regarding men's health and mental health.

“In my mind, there’s not enough about men’s health and wellness that's out there," said Jeff Morrison, a former Guelph resident who is organizing the upcoming events, "I would love to get it up to equal awareness to when you think about breast cancer, that you also think about prostate cancer, testicular cancer and men’s suicide prevention, which is also up there."

This year, Morrison has teamed up with community partners Wellington Brewery, Danby, the Italian Canadian Club and the Guelph Cornhole League to host a series of events to help him raise $5,000.

Since 2012, Morrison and his team have raised around $70,000 to support the Movember campaign. What started as a fun thing to participate in turned into a personal cause for Morrison after his father was diagnosed with the disease in 2014, and then himself in 2015.

“If it’s in your family, there’s more than a 70 per cent chance you will end up with it as well,” said Morrison, who was 45 at the time his father was diagnosed.

After his doctor refused to test him before he was 50, Morrison went through his workplace and got a series of tests done.

“I found out my diagnosis was actually a lot worse than my father’s was," he said about the results, "And that was in 2015, so just a year after my dad got diagnosed, I was diagnosed as well."

About three years cancer-free, Morrison got in touch with Movember Canada under his surgeon's suggestion, and has a more active role with the organization, travelling to different Movember events across the country and doing interviews.

“It was about silly moustaches for the first couple of years, but now I do it for such a more personal reason for myself, my dad and for friends and family out there,” he said.

On Oct. 29, Morrison will be kicking off his Guelph campaign with a launch party and giveaway at Wellington Brewery with a beer called Pencil Thin Lager. For every can sold, 50 cents will be donated to Morrison’s campaign.

This isn’t the first time Morrison has partnered with Wellington Brewery. He explains it has been helping his campaign since 2016, and came out with a small batch of light beer in 2020 called Last Year. 

“We canned it and then we ended up selling out in two weeks,” said Morrison. “We didn’t even get through the entire month.

"We went with the same recipe, the same artwork and we're going to promote it more this year than to the people who show up at the brewery."

After the launch party, a 50/50 draw and online auction will be held throughout November. A cornhole tournament will be hosted on Nov. 27 at the Italian Canadian Club in partnership with the Guelph Cornhole League. He adds tickets for the event will include a lunch-in, prizes and more.

“We’re going to do a double tier tournament,” said Morrison, mentioning one tier will be for league players and the other for casual participants.

"We're actually anticipating raising a few thousand from this event alone."

By hosting these events and sharing his experiences, Morrison aims to get more men comfortable talking about prostate cancer and address misconception about how healthcare professionals test patients for the disease.

"Truly, when I have this conversation with my friends and people at these events, nobody knows that you initially get a blood test," said Morrison, mentioning the test examines PSA levels. "Once people started understanding that, they have gone to the doctor and gotten the blood work done."

With many man not comfortable expressing their emotions, Morrison adds it makes it harder for them to seek help when they do need it.

“If you’re not afraid to talk about it, it’s about making one person more aware and getting tested themselves."