Editorial: MOmentous quest ends

Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
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SHOW OF SUPPORT: Angus Westgarth and his kids Nathalia, 4, and Felix, 2, show off their best Movember mos.

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It's a complete coincidence that the Opinion page in The Timaru Herald newspaper today has ended up on Page 5, but sometimes such seemingly chance scenarios turn out to be serendipitous.

And today is one such occasion, because this leader finds itself opposite the final blog from Timaru's own Angus Westgarth, about his travels during the month now widely known as Movember, in order to raise awareness of serious illnesses that affect men, such as prostate cancer, and of men's mental health issues.

Angus, as he demonstrates in his blog today, is pretty open about his own struggles with depression, and is clearly fired by an important calling; to help raise awareness of these issues among men, in an effort to help them be effectively addressed.

It's been a heady month for him. Those who followed his daily updates on Twitter will have been aware of just how many towns and cities he visited in a whirlwind few weeks, trying to raise money and awareness. He was - and it's certainly something to be proud of - the first person to take Movember across the country in this way.

Angus didn't raise as much money as he'd hoped to, but around $5000 is not something to be sneezed at, and more importantly than that, he undoubtedly raised awareness of the Movember concept, hopefully ensuring that in the future there will be more participants in such a worthy fundraising cause.

Happily, South Canterbury, and specifically Timaru, have latched on to the Movember concept in a fairly big way in recent years, possibly more than some bigger centres. The signs at either end of down, declaring that travellers are entering TiMoru during the month of November, make it clear awareness is strong here. Angus' effort, and that of his supporting cast, can only help to raise that profile even further.

And it needs raising, because let's face it, we blokes aren't necessarily quick out of the blocks when it comes to admitting we have a problem, either mental or physical.

Angus concludes his final blog with some sobering thoughts: "In New Zealand, one in two men will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime. We lose more men to suicide than we do on our roads."

Those two facts alone should be enough to convince us of the importance of the Movember concept in raising awareness. Particularly in the mental health area, it slots in neatly alongside campaigns like that tackling depression fronted by Sir John Kirwan.

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It's important, and it deserves all the attention it gets, and more. The efforts of Angus Westgarth and many others in South Canterbury to make people aware of this cause, deserve to be saluted.

- The Timaru Herald

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