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Local Firefighters Fight Cancer with Moustaches

Facial hair provides firefighters an opportunity to talk about men's cancer.

Hopefully you haven’t had a visit from South Shore firefighters recently but if you had, you’d have noticed that some of them were sporting mustaches.

This past month, seven of the firefighters have been growing a moustache or beard as part of a national movement to raise awareness about men’s health. 

While it may appear to be a superficial way to show support, it’s an issue the men are taking seriously.

South Shore Firefighter Dustin Ellis said it’s an important issue for the team because firefighters, who are exposed to a variety of chemicals while working, are more apt to get cancer.

Firefighters face a greater risk of testicular and prostate cancer, in addition to other cancers, Ellis said.

A 2006 study by the University of Cincinnati found testicular cancer was twice as likely to affect firemen. Firefighters also faced a 53 per cent greater risk from multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer, according to a New York Post report on the study. 

Non-Hodgkin lymphoma and prostate cancer had also occurred at significantly higher rates in firemen than in other workers, according to the report.

“So it’s not a matter of ‘if’ but ‘when’,” Ellis said.

When asked why they’re sporting a ‘stache, the fire fighters use it as an opportunity to start a conversation about men’s health and cancer.

“We have had some comments. We’ve had to do some education about why it’s important,” Ellis said.

In addition to growing facial hair, the men are also raising funds to benefit the Movember Foundation, which supports awareness/education, survivorship and research of prostate and testicular cancer, the Livestrong Foundation and the Prostate Cancer Foundation.

The firefighters have raised about $225 so far. To donate, here’s a link to their Movember team page. 

There are only a few days left to the challenge, which ends this weekend. Ellis said that while they’ve gotten used to the facial hair, it is getting a little scratchy.

“My wife is looking forward to it coming off more than anybody,” he said.

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