There But Not There

I’m now one-third of the way through my Movember campaign, growing out a moustache to raise (visible) awareness and funds for men’s cancers. I’ve gone from the “sloppy shaving” starting point to actually having to work carefully around the wire brush that’s growing above my lips. The last time I sported any kind of facial hair was in March 1981 when I went through the de rigeur bearding up that comes with your freshman year in college. This effort is more intentional, more focused, and more thought-provoking.

My ‘stache is both there and not there. It’s not there in that I don’t think about it, or plan how I’ll groom or style it from day to day. It’s not part of my attire (yet). But I accidentally nicked the left side while shaving the other day, and had to even out the “big stubble” at least give the impression that I intend to look like this, and the ‘stache was suddenly there, front and center.

This is what it’s like when you’re dealing with any sort of illness in your circle of friends or family. It’s there and not there; there are times when you know it’s there, in the back of your mind, and you play out how you’ll deal with certain scenarios, situations and social interactions, what you will say and not say, and how you choose to discuss your current family reality. Then it’s not there, and you sleep a bit better, you get a reprieve from worry, you re-align to some semblance of whatever passed for “normal” before illness stuck its nose in the tent. I’d never suggest that growing a moustache is at all, in any way, shape or form, equivalent to fighting cancer. It’s not. But the feeling of there-and-not-there, of the constant wondering which side of the mental fence you are on from moment to moment, is something that comes with the territory for friends and family members. It’s about raising awareness, and understanding, and shining a light on early detection and health planning.

If I can help others detour around the foreboding sense that there’s something new and very unwelcome that makes itself known with precise randomness, then I have become a moustache merchant, a purveyor of facial hair with a bit of hope and empathy as well.

Please support your Mo Bros and Mo Sistas through the month of November.

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