GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — If you’ve noticed people around you are looking hairier than usual, they may be participating in No-Shave November. It’s an ongoing effort to raise awareness and money for cancer research. And while it may sound like a silly way to attack such a serious topic, these efforts have raised millions of dollars.
“We've been doing this for 13 years now and have been able to raise over $13 million in that time,” said Sara Svendsen, Executive Director for No-Shave November. “So we started in 2009 as a Facebook group that really went viral and blossomed. It was started by the Hill family, eight children who lost their father to colorectal cancer in 2007. They wanted to do something to honor his legacy and synonymously fundraise for organizations that help other patients. And so No-Shave November was born."
Participating in No-Shave November is simple. Cancel the haircuts and waxing appointments, then donate that money to cancer research. You can pick an organization in your area or choose one of the groups that’s currently partnered with the no-shave movement.
“We partner with 13 incredible nonprofit organizations that are doing boots-on-the-ground work with cancer patients and their families across the country,” Svendsen said. “We have representation for different types of cancer, from breast cancer and colorectal cancer to testicular and prostate, and even beyond that.”
You don’t have to start at the beginning of November. You can start anytime. Then allow your new look to be a conversation starter, because you never know who might benefit.
“There have been people who wrote to us and let us know their story. Having conversations over the Thanksgiving dinner table about their hair growth helped their family member go get checked, and they found cancer in stages one or two, which is incredible compared to what might have happened otherwise. So, it definitely has helped certain individuals,” Svendsen said. “We hope to help create an environment where people aren't afraid to go to the doctor and they're staying up to date with their screenings, because the earlier you catch cancer, the best chance you have of beating it.”
While beards and moustaches are commonly associated with No-Shave November, it’s not limited to just men. Women are encouraged to stop shaving their legs or armpits to provoke conversation about cancer research.
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