StarMetro journalists raise RM16,000 in pledges, promote awareness on men’s health issues


The writer (third from left) handing over the pledges to Ratnasingham. With them are (from left) Tan, Star Media Group executive editor Brian Martin, Viji and Lee.

AS WITH all good things, November has come and gone and with it, StarMetro’s Movember Challenge.

In October, the men of StarMetro decided to take it upon themselves to help promote awareness on male-related cancers, such as prostate and testicular, by organising their very own Movember Challenge.

The rules of the Movember Challenge are simple – participants must grow their moustaches for the entirety of November and talk to people about male-related cancers.

Beards, goatees, sideburns and such are optional.

We decided to take a more proactive role as well so aside from just getting hairy, we would actually help drum up funds for charity.

The charity we chose to assist was the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM), which is one of Malaysia’s oldest cancer charities.

Established in 1966, NCSM was founded by Datuk Dr S.K. Dharmalingam and was launched by former prime minister Tun Abdul Razak.

It provides holistic cancer support to patients and caregivers, taking them through their journey of understanding and dealing with cancer at its four cancer centres – Cancer and Health Screening Clinic, Nuclear Medicine Centre, Resource & Wellness Centre and the Children’s Home of Hope – as well as branches in Johor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Perak, Penang and Sarawak.

Five of us stepped up to the plate and each vowed to raise RM1,000 to help NCSM conduct free screenings for male-related cancers at its centres.

Participating was Randeep Singh, 43, Jacobus Raj, 39, Vincent Tan, 32, C.Y. Lee, 31, and yours truly, 37.

(Clockwise from left) Tan, Jacobus, the writer, Lee and Randeep after a month of fuzzy facial hair growth.

As the month progressed, we each went through our challenges of finding willing donors and dealing with the growing fuzz.

For some of us, it was the first time we had ever “let it all grow out”, so it was an educational experience.

Randeep thought it was crucial for all men to be aware of the dangers of testicular and prostate cancers.

“Awareness and education on male-related cancers are not highlighted enough and it is encouraging to know that events like this help to increase understanding of the issue,” he said.

Jacobus said he was happy to contribute in any way he could.

“It had been awhile since I last let my beard grow out so it was an interesting experience. Furthermore, I got to do it for a good cause,” he added.

Tan’s response was a bit more tongue-in-cheek: “Trying to grow those pitiful strands one mislabels as moustache and beard, I had to go through a range of emotions from excitement and inadequacy to regret. Mainly inadequacy! But I was doing this for charity, so I endured.”

By the end of November, the StarMetro Movember crew managed to raise an impressive RM16,000 in pledges, which was three times our original target.

On hand to receive the pledges was NCSM project director vice-president Clare Ratnasingham and NCSM project director Viji Nair.

“We were very happy to work with StarMetro, as these donations will go far in detecting cancer in men at an early stage,” said Ratnasingham.

“Early screening can help save lives,” she said, adding that NCSM looked forward to working with StarMetro again next year.

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