Shaving for a cause: med students do Manuary
Here in the Faculty of Health Sciences, I am continually amazed at the extra-curricular work that our students do. Despite the demands of clinical education, our students still find time to give back, dedicating themselves to the causes that they find most important.
Take Vince Wu and Kousha Azimi, both first year medical students, both aspiring otolaryngology/head and neck surgeons. Together with third year student Jennifer Siu and fourth year student Josie Xu, they led the organizing committee of Kingston’s Manuary campaign.
Manuary is a campaign similar to Movember, where men are encouraged to grow beards throughout the month of January as a means to not only raise funds but also raise awareness of head and neck cancer. The second fastest growing cancer in Canada, last year oral cancer alone affected more than 93,000 men and women.1
Our own Dr. Jason Franklin, who is a head and neck cancer surgeon, initially brought the campaign to Kingston. One of Jason’s residents started Manuary five years ago in London, ON and the campaign has spread to four other cities in Canada. Here in Kingston, Jason participates both in organizing and in growing a beard. He credits the “remarkable relationship” between Kingston General Hospital (KGH) and the medical students, which is unique to Queen’s, in making the local Manuary campaign a success. This year he was in the spotlight at the campaign’s wrap-up party where he participated in a “shave-off” (left: Jason is being shaved by Jennifer Siu) in honour of one of his patients, raising $1200 from the group of supporters who came out to watch. In total, the campaign has raised over $6000.
What is unique about the funds from Manuary is that they stay in Kingston. Some of the funds will support head and neck cancer research, while another portion will be used to provide support to patients right here at KGH.2
When you talk to Vince and Kousha, what is most significant, in their eyes, is the importance of raising awareness. “This kind of cancer is devastating for patients, particularly because of the high incidence of scarring,” says Vince. “While traditionally head and neck cancers were seen as self-inflicted (from smoking or excessive alcohol use) we are now seeing an association with HPV, and more and more young people are affected. We want to see an end to the stigma.”
Vince and Kousha (at right) are already looking forward to next year’s campaign, with an eye to connecting with the greater community by engaging local orthodontists and dentists. And of course, they will be looking to recruit even more beard-growers starting on January 1st.
Share your thoughts about Manuary by commenting on the blog…or better yet please drop by the Macklem House. My door is always open.
I would like to thank you to Jen Valberg for her assistance in preparing this blog.