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No-Shave November kicks off early

October 30, 2019
The Town Crier

Austintown Schools administrators, teachers, public safety forces, community leaders and physicians taking part in No-Shave November, a campaign to raise awareness about prostate cancer, are starting early this year; they jump-started the month-long event this morning at Partners for Urology Health, 6262 Mahoning Avenue.

"We really want to involve the students as much as possible, to help them understand the importance of routine prostate cancer screenings," says Samantha Rivalsky, one of the event organizers. "So, we're starting early to accommodate the school calendar, avoid holidays, and fit into busy students' schedules."

During No-Shave November, men who are ordinarily clean-shaven grow their facial hair to spark conversations about prostate cancer and the importance of annual screenings for all men 40 years old and older.

Article Photos

A broad range of community leaders gathered at Partners for Urology Health to jumpstart No-Shave Novemer, an annual event sponsored by Mercy Health Foundation, to raise awareness about the importance of prostate cancer screening. From left: Lt. Tom Collins and Chief Bob Gavalier of the Austintown Police Department, Steve Burbrink, a prostate cancer survivor and one of the event organizers, Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, and Kelan Bilal, owner of Excalibur Barber Grooming Lounge.

"When you see someone who is normally clean-shaven with facial hair, people ask questions," explains Steve Burbrink, a prostate cancer survivor and another of the event organizers. "That's an opportunity to have a conversation and raise awareness about prostate cancer and the importance of routine cancer screenings."

"If prostate cancer is diagnosed early, the better the outcome," says Laura Boomhower, manager, oncology liaison at Mercy Health Youngstown. "The problem," Boomhower continues, "is that men wait until they have symptoms to get checked. If they ask their physician to do a baseline PSA, they can monitor it yearly for any changes. That's why routine screenings a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood draw and digital rectal exam are so important."

Participants in No-Shave November grow and groom their facial hair through the end of November, Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. "We're hoping that having teachers, school administrators and police officers take part will inspire students to talk with their parents and other family members about the importance of age-appropriate cancer screenings," Burbrink says. "It may even prompt them to encourage their parents, grandparents and other family members to have a prostate exam and PSA blood draw. We're also hoping that getting kids involved at a young age will raise awareness about the need to take charge of their own health and make informed decisions when it comes to health care."

At the end of the month, those taking part will come together for a mass shave-off at Austintown Fitch High School. Professional barbers from Excalibur Barber Grooming Lounge will provide the straight-razor shaves free of charge during the event.

While the purpose of No-Shave November is to raise awareness, funds raised by Austintown students and the adults taking part will help to provide free prostate cancer screenings for men throughout the Mahoning Valley. Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley, the philanthropic arm of Mercy Health, supports the free prostate cancer screenings that Man Up Mahoning Valley hosts during several annual community events including the African American Male Wellness Walk, Mercy Health Day, Panerathon and Fuel the Fight car show.

This year, 252 men took part in free prostate cancer screenings provided by donors to Mercy Health Foundation. Sixty-five of the men had never been screened before and 25 had an elevated PSA. Elevated PSA can indicate a problem a silent, painless indication that cancer may be present.

For information on how to support free prostate cancer screenings or other programs that improve the health of Mahoning Valley residents, and ensure access to anyone in need, call Mercy Health Foundation Mahoning Valley at 330-729-1180.



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