We often interview people who have overcome disease, and hear their stories. But what about their loved ones? How do they deal with disease and possible loss, and what makes Movember so important to them? We spoke to Movember Run Ambassador Heico ten Cate.
Heico ten Cate has been living in Utrecht since 2010 and describes himself as the proud father of Nicole (24) and Joey (23), the ‘pretty kind’ brother to 3 sisters and 2 brothers, and a loving son of mother Sija Nauta and late father Wieger ten Cate. “I’m an interim Lean Consultant, Process Specialist and Change Manager who’s always looking for a new assignment,” he adds.
Active for Movember
“I’ve been actively involved in Movember for 5 years now,” says Heico. “It’s a special feeling when you can make a difference, together with your MoBros and MoSistas, because every year your contribution does make a difference. It’s how we get more attention for the challenges facing men’s health, and raise money for research, which is still very necessary!”
How did you hear about Movember? “It must have been five years ago, when I was watching a program about Movember on TV. I immediately felt I had to get involved. The next year I checked for Movember events around the Netherlands and found the Movember Run. Running is my passion and you can always get me excited for a bit of fun. The dressing up for the run part is great and brings a lot of joy to something very serious!”
How would you describe the Movember Run? “As a lot of fun, solidarity, a relaxing effort that is very effective. Every year I see more participants and the audience is also growing. That leads to a lot of fun. You can run, but also use your skateboard, or wheelchair. As long as you’re having fun, and complete the track, you’re okay. And if you find someone who will sponsor you, that’s a bonus.”
Fighting prostate cancer
Why do you participate in Movember? “I participate because it’s still needed. Men are still dying because of prostate and testicular cancer. There is also the mental and emotional toll that it causes – both for those recovering from it, and their loved ones. We certainly need more research, but also more support for the emotional and mental health of those affected.”
“My father discovered the disease by chance. He needed to go to hospital, where – I believe – they thought he suffered from a bladder inflammation. I have two brothers and three sisters, and remember that the impact of the news was huge. It brings you closer together. The disease and treatments changed his personality and made it very difficult for us. People react very differently to a situation like this; for some it’s easier than for others. I have deep respect for my brother and younger sister, who were able to handle our father’s personality change, and continued to support him.”
Did your father’s disease lead to you being more aware of the possibility of getting prostate cancer? For instance, do you go to the doctor more often to get a check-up? “I check my own body, which is also very effective, but I know it wouldn’t hurt to get regular check-ups from a specialist. Men tend to be less careful with their health than women. It’s the spirit of the age. I think women are more broad-minded than men. They dare to be vulnerable, and know their bodies better. Men are less open, feel uncomfortable and bury their heads in the sand, where they don’t find anything. We already had Pink Ribbon and now we have Movember. I think a platform is important, because it helps us to communicate with an audience more easily. And what’s more visible than a moustache? It’s the simple conversations that make the difference: ‘why do you have a moustache, that looks horrible dude!’ and you’ll have a conversation starter; a conversation about cancer that specifically affects men.”
How can we be even more alert to prostate cancer? “I think it’s important to check your own body. Women self-examine, and men should too. If it runs in your family, be extra careful. outlearn more online, because knowledge is a great start to both prevention and healing. And talk about it with your brothers, cousins, friends or GP.”
Movember Run Ambassador
What – in your opinion – can Movember do to make people even more aware of prostate cancer? “I think we should continue with Movember, because more people need to hear our message. We coud involve some famous people, or even better, create an international Movember hero. The same goes for the Movember Run - having someone famous as one of the ambassadors would be great. It would also be good to get more companies involved, more media attention and grow the event even more! It’s a cool and fun event, so there’s so much more to get out of it. It’s not just about donations, the money, but about the attention and turning the issue into a topic for discussion.”
This year, you are a Movember Run Ambassador. What does this mean to you and how do you give meaning to your new role? “I want to do a lot more than in previous years. More attention for the topic, being a collaboration partner for you as the organisers, making connections and going wild on social media until they block me.”
Is there anything else you’d like to say to people who are still unsure about joining the Movember Run? “Are there any left? Give them my phone number and email address, and I will pull their moustaches until they say yes!”