The meaning of Movember

How top-lip topiary is supporting vital services for men living with cancer

If you’ve begun to notice an increase in bristling top lips this month, then you could be witnessing the effects of Movember.

The annual moustache-growing campaign boosts awareness of men’s health issues and raises funds for related charities. One of those is Prostate Cancer UK, which receives money from the Movember Foundation towards its projects. And while the month-long event puts prostate cancer in the spotlight, the charity’s work continues all year around.

In particular, its specialist nurses provide support and information for men living with prostate cancer or worried they may have it. RCN member Teresa Lynch has worked on the charity’s helpline for eight years alongside 12 other specialist nurses to provide support.

“The men who call can be anything from 30 to 60 and beyond – although most of our calls are from those over 40,” she says. “Sometimes it’s just a one-off call, but on other occasions you can talk to the same person a number of times. We always tell people not to hesitate to call us back and often they do. If it’s appropriate, we’ll call them back too.

“We give a wide range of support, from helping people deal with emerging worries to coping with diagnoses and symptoms. Many are reluctant to bother their GP and call us first, which is an opportunity to help them into the care of professionals.”

Photomicrograph of prostate hyperplasia

Micrograph of metastatic prostate carcinoma

A chance to talk

“It’s not unusual for callers to be very quiet. We use our skills to ask the right questions to get them talking and give us the facts we need to begin to help and reassure them.”

The service isn’t just confined to the phone. “As well as calls we talk to people via email and live webchats,” explains Teresa. “Additionally we speak to support groups and can help to train volunteers. Our fatigue support service is having more success each year. Levels of fatigue are going down, which is really satisfying.”

Teresa Lynch

Teresa Lynch 

Keeping the team’s knowledge and skills up-to-date is also a priority for the charity. “A variety of external specialists provide clinical supervision,” says Teresa. “It could be a counselling expert or clinical nurse specialists from specific areas. Every nurse also takes part in regular 360 reviews and we’re encouraged to work on our continuous professional development.” 

Taking around 14,000 calls each year, every day provides new challenges and situations for the team. “It’s a different type of nursing,” Teresa says, “It’s not hands on, but I’m happy to give support from a different perspective. It’s good to know that we’re helping nurses who are busy on the ward and giving men and their relatives a private, uninterrupted chance to talk.”

Find out more 

Prostate Cancer UK

Prostate Cancer UK aims to shift science over the next 10 years to focus on radical improvements in diagnosis, treatment, prevention, and support, stopping prostate cancer from being a killer.

Find out more about available funding, educational opportunities, the latest research news, key policy documents, information on best practice and resources to support your patients visit.

RCN Cancer and Breast Care Forum

The RCN Cancer and Breast Care Forum supports nursing staff who work in cancer and breast care. It provides opportunities for development, networking and leading innovative patient care.

Movember Foundation

The Movember Foundation is a global charity which was started in Australia by friends Travis Garone and Luke Slattery. Since 2003 it has raised over £400 million to support projects aiming by 2030 to reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%.

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