As a 17-year-old junior in high school, Loyola’s men’s volleyball middle blocker Owen McAndrews was diagnosed with testicular cancer. He underwent two surgeries; the first removed the cancerous lump, and the second removed the lymph nodes in his abdomen.
He said this diagnosis and battle has shaped him into the person he is today.
“Testicular cancer was a huge chapter in my life,” said McAndrews. “It taught me to appreciate every moment, and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve adopted this mentality to experience as much as I can and enjoy life as much as I can. Moving forward, I hope I can pass on some of those values to the younger guys on my team.”
Loyola’s men’s volleyball team is one of thousands of teams around the world taking part in “Movember,” which includes people participating in “No Shave November” and growing, or at least attempting to grow, mustaches throughout the month to raise awareness and funds for men’s health research.
In 2003, Movember began as a joke between Travis Garone and Luke Slattery. The two Australians had 30 participants take the challenge to grow the largest mustache possible. Originally viewed as something fun, the group raised no money that first year.
But one year later, the Movember foundation raised more than $40,000. That number has continued to rise ever since, and today the foundation has raised more than $649 million overall. Movember has grown as an international organization and is ranked No. 72 of the best non-governmental organizations in the world.
Even though Movember’s mustaches tend to draw attention to themselves, the group began to donate the proceeds to the Prostate Cancer Foundation of Australia and to other men’s health organizations.
The “Mo Bros” have raised more than $4,390 in November and a running total of more than $19,000 the past four years.
McAndrews said Movember gives a platform for survivors and families impacted by men’s health issues to raise awareness about diseases that are sometimes overlooked.
“Movember has been a great avenue to talk about men’s health and really touch on the important issues associated with it,” said the human resources and marketing double major. “Men sometimes don’t like talking about their physical, mental and emotional health but it’s such a huge issue that affects so many people [that] they need to. Movember has helped me facilitate some of those difficult conversations.”
Head coach Shane Davis has also been a participant during the event, but typically keeps a full beard. Davis said he supports the cause and applauds McAndrews for his leadership.
“It’s a great program and it does a terrific job of raising awareness for a very worthy cause,” said Davis. “Owen has spearheaded the campaign the past few years, and our team has rallied around him in embracing the Movember program.”
Davis said the entire team participates, no matter how ridiculous some may look.
At any rate, the important question remains: Who has the best mustache on the team?
The prestigious award for the best mustache on the team this season was given to senior Nick Olson, according to McAndrews, who added he was a close second.
McAndrews has been cancer free for four and a half years and has his last check-up in May to be fully cleared of cancer activity.