Why I'm Thankful For No-Shave November, As A Person Affected By Cancer

To all men currently sporting scruff, handlebar mustaches or full-on Santa beards on their faces, a male friend of mine yesterday told me, “For No-Shave November, I plan not not shave until the Patriots lose.”

Although the sound of this seemed completely idiotic to me, I realized his plan quite literally had no purpose.

Every November, thousands of men choose to neglect their razors in order to participate in the widely-known event that produces an abundance of fuzzy faces.

But has the true meaning of the trend been lost in all the hype?

No-Shave November actually started as an annual trend promoted by the American Cancer Society to raise awareness about prostate cancer, a disease that affects over 3 million men per year.

As a girl who lost her mother to cancer at a young age, a month of awareness for a disease without a cure truly means the world to me.

But even I, a 22-year-old recent college grad surrounded by dozens of no-shave participants, forgot what the month of November is supposed to represent.

Maybe it’s because what some men really look forward to this month is competing with their friends for the mustache that best depicts a pedophile, or the most absurd, overgrown beard that scares away pretty much any stranger encountered.

Perhaps these men never had to face cancer in a significant way throughout their lives.

So for these men, I have a story of how cancer personally affected me.

My mother was the type of person you couldn’t get enough of.

Even sporting a bald head, sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt, she was undeniably beautiful, wearing a smile from ear-to-ear and a light in her eyes proved she was full of life.

She could dish out a joke about anything at any time, and have you gasping for breath as a result of laughing uncontrollably.

She was silly, clumsy, graceful and smart all at once, and she was my absolute greatest hero.

But fate took a toll one day shortly after I was born, and after an eight-year battle, she was gone.

Compensating for her absence has been the biggest struggle of my life.

Even at age 8, her sudden disappearance was blatantly obvious to me.

Her familiar face wasn’t there to greet me when I hopped off the bus at the end of the day and the soothing sound of her voice could no longer comfort me when I fell down and scraped my knees.

Now, I’m not quite sure what it’d be like to have a mother, and although I have the wonderful memories to remind me of when she was here, I still have to face life without her with every day that passes.

Cancer ultimately took my best friend away from me, as it does to millions of other people every year.

Therefore, a month that promotes early detection, awareness and research for this disease that affects so many is something everyone should take seriously.

So men, before you decide to tuck away your razor for the next 20 plus days, think about why you’re doing it, who you’re doing it for and how you can actually help.

Because honestly, the difference you make will mean at thousand times more if your actions are backed by the right reasons.

Stay true, furry-faced participants.