Thursday, November 17, 2016


Halfway through Movember.  And not much to show for it.

In 2004, I received a call from my dad, and after I hung up, I burst into tears in the Elmwood Shopping Center parking lot in New Orleans.  Dad had gotten a diagnosis of metastatic prostate cancer, and it was a very aggressive cancer.  He didn't provide much in the way of details, but I later found out that he was only given six months to live.

As most of you know, he not only survived that six months, but six more, then more, and more still.  He managed to live - really live - for nine years following his diagnosis.  And inspired so many people in the process, to follow their passion, to respond to a call to service that was meaningful.

Dad's cancer had no telltale signals, no warnings at the first.  It was completely asymptomatic, and was caught during an insurance physical.  And even caught before the first symptom, it was too late.

Once he had been diagnosed, other family members were tested - something that never would have happened without his example.  Cancer - an aggressive form much like my dad's - was caught early for one other family member as a result.

In SC, at the end of November, with my cousins...
For several years, the boys in the family would participate in "Movember".  We put together teams to shave on November 1, and then grew moustaches for a month and raise money for prostate cancer awareness.  Although my personal facial-hair-growing prowess leaves a little to be desired, several of my cousins sprouted some spectacular growths.

After a few years, the novelty wore off a little, and we didn't do it together, and joined other teams.  Fewer of us did it every year.

Every October 31, I decide whether I am going to do it again - whether I am going to join the people who do the whole raising money thing, asking people to donate, going from friend to friend, begging for loose change.  It is not something that comes easily to me, but it is the cost of the platform.

And this year I have decided not to.

I have not decided to avoid the fundraising out of any lack of conviction that the Movember movement is important.  If you are interested in donating, the link is easily available, and there are hundreds of teams that would love the income.  It is a powerful group, and they do good work.

And it is not because I think that the market is saturated with the message.  I see the Today Show and other , and the guys there now do "No-Shave November", but do so without referencing the reason behind it.  The Movember movement has continued, but it has become more of a cultural thing than a messaging thing.

Dr. Andrew Lawton can run, but can't
grow the facial hair, either.
This year, instead, I am throwing my fundraising weight behind my amazing cousin's marathon in New York this weekend, and the two charities he is supporting by doing it.  If you have not read Andrew's blog, it is totally worth it.  And if you just want to donate - either to Fred's team in support of the cancer research that ended up saving his life, or the Housing charity for the elderly that he supports, do that here and/or here (write in "marathon" in the notes section).

Even so, I did shave on November 1, and the result was predictable as always.  I look odd without the familiar goatee.  The double chin has gotten a little more prominent every year, making it less and less likely that I will keep the moustache alone once the month is over.  The facial hair is very patchy, and does not grow fast.  Predictably, I get a little bit of teasing about it.

Each time I am teased, it gives me a chance to tell the story of my dad, Mac Lawton.  Of how he fought cancer with positive attitude.  Of his strength.  Of how he shared hope with those around him.  Of how he inspired young men who did not know what hope looked like.

Of how important it is to be checked.  

It allows me to talk story, to connect with people, and to express my love - for my dad, for my brother and cousins.... and for them.  And ask them to please take the time to get checked if they are of the age (50 years old for most).

Previous Movembers

I turn to you, now.  If you can, get checked.  It is simple enough.  Then take a moment to think of a man in your life with an A-type personality (there is a correlation) and ask them whether they are checked.  Share  information that is available online.  Talk story, share, listen, and love.  

And please, don't forget the love.  It marks you as part of the tribe, every time.  Moustache or no.

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