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A close shave for charity IT'S ALMOST MOVEMBER, SO JOIN THE GREAT TACHE GROWATHON GUYS, AND HELP RAISE FUNDS AND AWARENESS FOR MALE CANCERS, WRITES brian finnegan

DURING the coming month, you might find yourself thinking you've somehow walked onto the set of a 1970s cop show. Overnight, the streets will be populated by men wearing what was once a pre-requisite of a bygone era, a facial accessory that seemed all too popular with television gumshoes and porn stars -- the moustache.

In Ireland and across the world, November has been re-christened 'Movember' by the organisers of a charity that asks men to grow a 'tache' or 'mo' to raise money for research into prostate and testicular cancer, while raising awareness of the diseases.

Last year, Leinster rugby stars Jamie Heaslip and Cian Healy grew 'taches for Movember. The players are participating in this year's growathon and Heaslip is even contemplating dying his mo blue to match his Leinster strip. He's not the only one as Royseven, Nick Munier, The Original Rudeboys, Don Conroy, Go Panda Go are all growing. King of the 'taches Marty Whelan is lending a hand as an ambassador for Movember.

The first time November was turned into Movember on these shores was back in 1998 and last year more than 12,700 Irish men with mos and supportive women -- otherwise known as Mo Bros and Mo Sistas -- contributed a staggering €1.6m to the €123m raised so far.

The money goes to all the cancer societies in the world, according to Matt Farrell, who has been closely associated with the charity since 1998. Matt loves the camaraderie that comes with a month where lots of guys are sporting soup strainers for charity.

recognition

"You constantly meet other Mo Bros and that makes the whole thing a good laugh," he says. "There's recognition when you see each other on the street and you give each other a smile and a nod. There's lots of parties during the month, too, which is an attractive element."

It's not all about fun with the lads, though. Mo Bros and Sistas are encouraged to sign up to the Movember website, which provides a place where their friends and families can donate. Matt donates to Movember through the business he's part of, the Diep restaurant group, by adding special dishes to menus. Each time someone orders the Movember dish, the restaurant donates the cost to the charity.

"Men are much less likely than women to get themselves checked up for cancer," Matt says. "Movember works as an awareness raiser because it gets so many men involved in a way that's not challenging for them. They get to have fun at the same time."

Glenn Cahill (42) was not thinking about testicular cancer checks when, three years ago, he discovered a difference downstairs. "I was lying in bed beside my girlfriend late one night," he begins. "I can't explain why I was rummaging around, but I felt a hardness in one testicle compared to another. So I asked for a second opinion." Glenn's girlfriend confirmed the difference and insisted that he either go to A&E or to his GP. He chose the latter.

suspicion

"The doctor confirmed my suspicions and sent me around to the clinic for a scan. They showed me the cancer there and then and after that I went back to the doctor for the formal diagnosis. There were a lot of tears.

"Even though testicular cancer is one of the treatable forms, when you hear the word cancer it reminds you of your mortality.

"The doctor referred me to a specialist who I saw the next day. He told me that they would operate to remove the testes as soon as possible. I had surgery the following Saturday morning." Testicular cancer is one of the more rare forms of the disease and has a very high cure rate, according to Noreen Andersen, a nurse at the Irish Cancer Society, who says: "It would be wise for men to be aware of how their testicles feel. They should check themselves every month."

As luck would have it, Glenn's operation happened in October and he received an email about Movember after he got out of hospital. "With my girlfriend's encouragement, I started growing a mo," he says.

"I thought it would be a positive way of telling people about my condition." Precaution is the big message that comes with Movember. Diep man Matt will be shaving his moustache off today in readiness for fresh mo growing. "It's an absolute rule," he says. "You have to start off Movember clean-shaven. From there on in, the mo's the limit."