One year ago, NNU senior Aaron Wiebe found out that one of his mentors from his home church had been diagnosed with prostate cancer. “He was 42 years old and had a 5-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter,” says Aaron. “After less than a year, he passed away.”
Deeply impacted by the loss of his dear friend, Aaron began to do some research into men’s health issues. “A lot of guys, especially college-aged, don’t realize that 1 in 6 men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer and 1 in 12 pass away from it. For young men between the ages of 16 and 28, 1 in 20 will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. For some reason, we don’t talk about these topics enough, and issues often go undiscovered before it’s too late.”
Leading into the month of November, Aaron led the charge on NNU’s campus to elevate awareness for these health issues by challenging students and faculty alike to grow out their moustaches as a part of “Movember,” an international men’s health awareness organization. NNU students usually participate in an annual tradition of “No-Shave November,” and were more than happy to repurpose the month with the goal of raising awareness about men’s health issues.
“Faculty and staff have also been really excited about it,” adds Aaron. “In meeting with a number of professors, some told me about how they had actually lost their fathers to prostate cancer. Another told me that he called and made an exam appointment after our conversation. It’s great to see the community embracing the importance of this effort.”
The entire NNU community has indeed embraced the campaign, with over 25 faculty and staff joining with 100 students to grow out their facial hair. In accordance with the (relatively) strict rules of the “Movember” program, goatees cannot be worn with the individual’s moustache, prompting faculty members Ed Robinson and Brent Peterson to shave off their goatees of 35 and 15 years, respectively. Ladies on campus are also getting involved by registering as “Mo Sistas” and wearing moustache themed clothing.
“I am extremely pleased that the students take seriously the need to talk about our health,” says Dr. Stephen Riley, who teaches Old Testament and is wearing a moustache in memory of his father who passed away from prostate cancer. “Too often we fall into a false dichotomy of thinking that our spiritual and physical health are separate things.”
Now, with the month of November coming to a close and many students shaving to look presentable for Thanksgiving, the campus community is celebrating what has been a profoundly successful month for both the awareness campaign and for the bonding of the community as a whole. “We’re all part of the same community,” said Dr. Steve Shaw, professor of political science. “While we have different functions to perform here on campus, we also teach and learn from each other, too.”
And how do faculty members feel when asked about their facial hair? Dr. Shaw replied, “How do I feel? Like a student does exams, like a faculty member does faculty meetings, like a dog does tics? But I do like to think I look better than Ron Burgundy.”
You can watch an interview with Aaron from the local news by clicking here.