In the midst of karaoke on Thursday night, two men held a shave-off at Tir Na Nog in order to raise awareness for head and neck cancer treatment.
A similar concept to Movember, Manuary is a charity that started five years ago and is in its second year at Kingston General Hospital (KGH). It encourages individuals to grow facial hair and donate to raise awareness for head and neck cancer — cancers that are generally more prevalent in men but are rising among women.
The event at Tir Na Nog raised money through a raffle and by asking the crowd for money prior to their “shave-off”, when they shaved the beards of Dr. Jason Franklin and Kousha Azimi, a first-year medical student at Queen’s and the brother of one of Franklin’s patients.
The charity aims to raise $7,500 for the treatment of head and neck cancer at KGH by the end of the year.
Timothy Agapas, an orthodontist who was sponsoring the event at Tir Na Nog, said as someone who previously worked as a dentist, he had a keen interest in raising awareness about head and neck cancer, especially oral cancer.
“Last year, 93,000 men and women [in Canada] were diagnosed with oral cancer and the unique aspect of oral cancer is such that — if treated early — it can be cured completely,” he said.
Agapas encouraged regular visits to dentists to identify early warning signs of oral cancer.
“See a dentist once a year at least,” he said. “He or she is uniquely trained to look at diseases of the mouth to identify subtle changes that might not be noticed until they become very aggressive.”
Dr. Franklin, an otolaryngologist, brought Manuary to Kingston last year. Otolaryngologists treat patients with diseases and disorders of the ear, nose and throat; he specializes in head and neck oncology.
Franklin said head and neck cancers don’t get a lot of attention, which is why he feels the Manuary campaign and charity is so important.
“Why I think it’s so important is I think head and neck cancer doesn’t get a lot of notoriety in the public eye, yet we’re seeing an increase [in] incidents of head and neck cancer, and we’re seeing it in young people and females where we weren’t seeing it in that patient population before,” he said.
Franklin said the increasing prevalence of head and neck cancer in females is partly due to the human papillomavirus, or HPV.
Franklin added that with the Manuary “shave-off” event, it was important to raise funds, but even more important to raise awareness.
“Raising money is important and it allows us to buy equipment and treat our patients with better and newer equipment and better technology,” he said.
“But in my mind, the real issue here is to draw attention to head and neck cancer … It’s very important that we get the word out, that the disease is out there and make people aware of it.”
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