Hot on the heels of Movember, there is a now a new fuzz-inspired fund-raising month - Decembeard.
Bowel Cancer UK is encouraging men across Lancashire to grow a beard to help raise awareness and extra funds for research.
All you need to do is clean shave on November 30 and let your facial fuzz grow throughout the month. Anyone with beards already can shave off, dye or decorate their beard to join the campaign.
Bowel cancer is the third most common cancer in men in the UK and the nation’s second biggest cancer killer. However it is treatable and curable, especially if diagnosed early. Bill Barrow, of Fleetwood, is one man who will be taking part after the charity helped him with his bowel cancer diagnosis.
Read more: These are the most common signs and symptoms of bowel cancer and Here is why bowel cancer screening can save lives
The 74-year-old father-of-two was sent an NHS home test kit, from the NHS Midlands & North West Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Hub, which detected he had the illness 10 years ago.
He says: “I was being treated by my GP who at first thought I had anaemia. I was feeling run down and I was given iron tablets but I didn’t get any better.
“I was sent a home test kit by NHS Midlands & North West Bowel Cancer Screening Programme Hub and I got in touch with the hospital as a result of what the test indicated.
“I was fast tracked and diagnosed with bowel cancer. I was put on a course of chemotherapy initially and, after making some progress, doctors decided to try me out on a new course of treatment, which is a combination of intense radiotherapy and chemotherapy for five weeks. The cancer had started to reduce through chemotherapy but with the combined treatment it had all but disappeared. I had surgery to clear the debris and a final session of chemotherapy to clear everything out. I have never looked back since. The whole process took 18 months from start to finish. I am invited for check-ups every three to five years. The test came at the right moment – had it delayed any longer the outcome would be different.”
Bill, who plays in jazz band Wyre Levee Stompers, adds he urges more men to order a home test kit and is backing the Decembeard campaign. The grandfather-of-four says: “Where I live, in Fleetwood, there is not much uptake on the tests and so every now and again I take part in campaigns to encourage people to use them. It proved to be a lifesaver for me and I urge people not to throw them away if they get sent one. More people need to be aware of Decembeard and it needs to be talked about and promoted as much as possible. I have lost friends to bowel cancer and I have friends who have survived.”
A host of celebrities have backed the campaign. Olympic gold medallist for Dressage Carl Hester says: “I’m thrilled to be supporting Decembeard, which is especially personal to me. I’ve had polyps removed from my bowel and now have annual check-ups, but the realisation that it could have developed in to bowel cancer hit me. This disease affects one in 14 men in the UK. ”
Sports broadcaster Jim Rosenthal agrees: “Dads, brothers, sons, nephews, grandads, uncles. Get growing and raise as much as you can. “It’s easy to do and a great chance to keep your face warm during winter.”
For more information visit http://www.bowelcanceruk.org.uk/decembeard