COLE MCNANNA // OCT. 25 2017 //

Sorry Dollar Beard Club, but I’m going to be taking this month off.

It’s about that time of year where I ditch my beard and embrace the same look my father has since he’s been in high school. I’m not looking forward to leaving my face subject to the elements with the New England weather coming up but this is more than about that 10-minute hike to the quad from the south side of campus.

For some, you kinda know what I’m getting at. For others, you may not know that Prostate Cancer runs in my family and this month I’m going to be raising funds for research that could stop my brother and me from going through the same process my father and his father went through.

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Joe (right) and his father, Raymond (left), at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Newport, R.I. //image credit: Cole McNanna

It all started with a homework assignment for a public speaking class, so here’s the plug: school work can actually be beneficial sometimes (you’re welcome, professors). I was able to look into something that meant a lot to me and I found the dudes over at the Movember Foundation who have been doing some pretty cool work.

They have been sporting hairy upper lips for Mental Health and Suicide Awareness as well as Testicular and Prostate Cancer research.

But they’re doing a little more than just that. They’re helping men be confident in going to get themselves checked out for what could be a serious issue.

Most men, from day one are generally taught to be strong and to always protect the ones around them. But the Movember Foundation is trying to alter that perspective in order to protect the body they have been given.

We don’t have to be the brute strength that knocks down a door, but we can be sincere and talk about our feelings. We don’t have to just rub dirt on it, but we should be able to go have a conversation with a professional who knows what they’re talking about.

My dad doesn’t like to leave many things up to others. When it comes to work around the house, he doesn’t hire someone else. When a car has an issue, he gets on his back in the garage to see if he can fix it before talking to a mechanic. I mean, he barely even lets my brother and I help with some things because he is just has a particular way of doing things himself.

However, a doctor’s visit in the fall of 2014 changed that hard-nosed approach. He had to take a step back and evaluate all of the options and how they were going to affect the ones around him. The same way he looks at the back of the house to figure out which piece of siding needs to be changed. But my dad knew he didn’t have to go at this job alone, and he called a huddle with those closest to him.

Mitch and I had just gotten back for Thanksgiving break, he was in his junior year of undergrad at Franklin Pierce and I was fresh off my first few months at Curry, finally back home with the three other people that have been there every step of the way in my life.

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Joe with both sons; Mitchel in the middle and Cole in the air circa August 1996 // image credit: Cole McNanna

My dad started to talk about a little health scare he had and I knew this wasn’t going to be a lecture about keeping my grades up. He went on to say a lot of things and knowing my dad, I’m sure he spoke very eloquently, but honestly, I blacked out. I have no other memory than sitting on the couch and trying to listen to my dad’s words while all of these questions were swirling around my head.

What does this mean? What’s going to happen? Is he going to be okay?

After a while I came back and realized that they caught it early enough for there to be plenty of options for attack. Seemingly the best option was a surgery to remove the cancer from his body and then keep an eye on any returners.

In February of 2015, he went under robotic arms that performed the surgery while the actual Surgeon was sitting at a desk maneuvering the da Vinci System several feet away from the operating table.

Joe has made a full recovery since then and being laid up on the couch for a couple weeks allowed him the perspective to evaluate the whole house and he never missed a beat on what to get to next.

Now, he maintains his mustache just as precisely as the MG convertible that he’s also had since he’s been in high school. This month, I’ll ditch my beard and adopt the look my dad has made cool since the first second I laid eyes on him.

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Joe’s mustache and his 1978 MG Convertible have been trademarks since graduating high school in 1983 // image credit: Cole McNanna

I won’t be able to deny any claims of “Wow you guys look alike,” now that my face is literally a clone of his. I haven’t shaped my beard since the middle of June and have accustomed to fixing it in class and having it be another thing I need to pay attention to when I roll out of bed trying not to be late for class.

I love my beard and I can’t see any reason as to why all men shouldn’t have one year round. I’ve enlisted in the Dollar Beard Club to receive shipments of beard oil to keep it maintained and growing to its potential.

But for the sake of my prostate, I’m going to be picking up a razor, for at least a couple weeks, and unveil the lower half of my face for the first time since I did this thing last year.

All the while I’ll be on social media and down in the Student Center, looking for donations to help excel cancer research and the overall conversation about Men’s Health.

You don’t have to donate your life savings. At the end of the day, I’m doing this to drive the conversation about Men’s Health and the fact that nobody, no matter how long and magnificent their beard may be, should hide serious health problems in the fear that you’ll be “less of a man” if you admit them.

How’s that saying go, “it’s okay to not be okay”? Well then yeah, it’s cool to tell the world that you’ve got cancer in your testicles. It’s okay to tell the world that you’re not always happy all of the time. You’re not alone. You aren’t the only one who feels that way and it’s okay to succumb to the realization that it’s okay to not be okay.

So, if any of this resonates with you and for some reason you’re still reading this (hey Linds) head over to mobro.co/colemcnanna and take a look at what it’s all about. Any retweet share or conversation started works for me so let’s change the face of Men’s Health.

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