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Gareth DavisFebruary 14, 20234 min read

The Movember Meaning

We have all heard of ‘Movember’, when the comedy moustaches start appearing on social media – we see our friends and colleagues engage in the movement by growing a ‘tash’ for the month of November. But how many of us know what it all means, especially when the theme is not publicized as much as it used to be?

We don’t want to see the theme redundant - it’s important to know the facts about Movember and try to ensure that our friends and co-workers keep growing that facial hair so that the right questions are being raised by men. It is important to recognize and understand symptoms that could be potentially life-threatening whether it's mental or physical.  

So, what is it and what does it mean? Movember is the month where men grow a moustache to raise awareness of male diseases, which include men's mental health, suicide prevention, prostate cancer and testicular cancer.  

At TSI our Head of Learning and Platforms, Gareth Davis, had a life shattering experience, being diagnosed with testicular cancer at the age of 27. Gareth is keen to talk about his experiences to provide other men with insight that might help them in the diagnosis phase as well as providing an understanding of what it means to both him and those around him; dealing with the prospect of potential mortality at an age where it is so unexpected to receive a diagnosis of the big ‘C’.  

How did you get diagnosed?

"It was difficult getting diagnosed, even the doctors didn’t think I had cancer, it was not mentioned. The doctors thought that it was a number of other conditions, so the cancer was growing and becoming more and more painful. After a long and extremely painful period of time, I eventually got diagnosed with cancer. I was at university at the time, and it was a big shock to receive the diagnosis, but I was relieved that they knew what it was, and after having an operation I was finally cancer free."

What would you say to anyone experiencing pain or discomfort?

"I would say don’t ignore the pain, don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed, your doctors have seen it hundreds of times, and it is a young man’s disease. It was not something that I knew at the time, which is why I never considered that I had cancer. So, please, ensure that if you have pain that you ask the doctors to check for cancer if the symptoms are there, even if you are in your twenties, like I was."

You cannot ignore the stats:  

“The average age at the time of diagnosis of testicular cancer is about 33. This is largely a disease of young and middle-aged men, but about 6% of cases occur in children and teens, and about 8% occur in men over the age of 55.

“About 1 of every 250 males will develop testicular cancer at some point during their lifetime.”

What are the key things that you would like to let other young men know about, that you wish you had known, at the time of having testicular cancer?

"Seek support and help as soon as you can, through friends and family, be open and talk to everyone. Mentally it is very tough, not just because you are starting to think about your own mortality, but also because there is a big impact on your loved ones, around you. I remember having a sense of guilt that I carried around because I didn’t want others to suffer from the emotional pain of seeing me sick. The mental anguish is equally important to address – so getting professional mental health support is something that I would advise, to ensure that you have an outlet to get you through the most difficult time of your life that you may ever go through. There are specialists out there – who are trained to help people in this exact situation – so please get all the support that you can." 

How has having testicular cancer at a young age impacted your health in later life?

"After having the cancerous testicle removed, I was still able to have children, in later life. I generally lead a ‘normal’ life, health wise, and there is nothing negative that I can attribute to having cancer all those years ago. It does make me appreciate life more, for sure, and I really enjoy being able to do what I do with training young people in technology – which helps others significantly in their careers. It gives me a lot of satisfaction being at such a key stage in the careers of others, I have trained thousands of young people in the latest technologies and watched their careers blossom over the years. Technology is such an exciting career to get into, I love seeing the different industries that my alumni trainees go into and how the training that they get at the start of their career enables them to progress into highly senior technologists and leaders."