'Movember' raising awareness for men’s health

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PANAMA CITY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Ryan Crawford is on a journey that began when he was 19, growing up in Buffalo, New York.

“You have that feeling of invincibility and hanging out with your friends every day. Just normal life every day,” Crawford said.

But he said a sports physical would change the rest of his life.

“One day, they say, 'Hang on, do that again,'” Crawford said. “I coughed again, and they said, ‘We need to do some further research.’ And where the problem with me was that I decided, at that moment, ‘Well, I’m kind of freaked out about all this. So, I’m just going to hope that it all goes away.'”

After waiting a few months, he finally received the news.

“Nonseminomatous testicular cancer, of an aggressive nature as well,” Crawford said. “After that, I went through four months of chemotherapy. It’s probably the worst experience you could ever imagine. That whole 19-year-old thing of going out and hanging with my friends, and being a normal 19-year-old, I couldn’t even walk to the end of the street because I was just so tired.”

Crawford isn’t alone.

According to data from the American Cancer Society and Testicular Cancer Awareness Foundation, more than 8,400 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. A majority of them will be between the ages of 15 and 35.

Another form of male cancer, prostate cancer, ranks as one of the most common.

Both Crawford and Dr. Carlos Ramos with the Panama City Urological Center say the reason behind the numbers is the fact that guys, like Crawford, wait to get check-ups and don’t open up to talk about it.

“Men’s health is somewhat, in my opinion, neglected,” Ramos said. “We don’t put that much emphasis on men’s health issues.”

“I just think it’s the male bravado most of the time. Guys just don’t want to talk about it,” Crawford said. “They don’t want to admit there’s a problem, especially at home with girlfriends, wives, or others. They don’t want to freak anybody out. You lose that shield of invincibility.”

But a few years ago, Crawford found out about Movember, a movement to raise awareness for men’s health, with guys growing different mustaches and beards to get them to start talking.

Since starting in 2003, the Movember Foundation has raised about $650 million for men’s health programs all around the world.

“It’s all about a conversation starter,” Crawford said. “It goes into the whole conversation of about male form cancers, and talking about men’s health.”

For Crawford, he hopes by talking, more men will take their health seriously.

“The end result is just to get more guys in the doctor’s office,” Crawford said. “For most of them, it’s ‘No Shave November.’ It’s like, ‘Yeah. But do you know why?’ And, there are a lot of people that don’t know why. So, if you attach a cause to it, that guy that grows the beard today might be the guy that ends up in the doctor’s office tomorrow.”

Other than growing facial hair, the Movember Foundation has a 30-day physical challenge called, “Move in Movember.”