MOULTON, Ala. - It's no shave November. Guys put down their razors for the month to grow awareness about cancer. And for one north Alabama sheriff's office, the disease hits close to home.
Lawrence County Sheriff Gene Mitchell’s law enforcement career spans five decades. “Uniformed officers have to be clean shaven,” he said. That’s policy for a lot of guys who protect and serve our communities. “If you're wearing a uniform, you ought to be neat,” he added.
The sheriff practices what he preaches. He did have facial hair years ago. “Only one time,” he said with a smile. “I worked undercover with the narcotics unit with the state.”
This month, he’s relaxing the department's policy on no facial hair. Several guys are temporarily putting away the razors to raise awareness about prostate cancer. “It’s just a disease that we’ve got a chance at if we get folks to pay attention to it,” he said with a more serious face. “I’ve had several nephews that came down with that same cancer. And my dad had it."
Men don’t like to talk about things like that. “No, no, no. That’s true,” Deputy Ed Kirby said. “We’re all macho.” Deputy Kirby is still shaving. “I don’t do the shave thing because I was a First Sergeant in the military, so I never was into that,” he said. But he is still sharing the message. “I’ve had cancer three times,” he told me. And he’s beaten it three times. Talk about beating the odds.
Kirby told us, “I’ve had thyroid cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma.” He had surgery a week after being diagnosed with prostate cancer. “That’s how fast it was growing,” he said. “Had I not done it, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here talking to you right now.” But he didn’t lose his sense of humor. ”I’m not the man I used to be because everything’s cut out,” the deputy said laughing. “There’s nothing left.”
No Shave November will soon end. So what happens December 1st? “Shave it off,” Sheriff Mitchell said with a smile. “About December the second, we’ll see a lot of red faces where they shave it off.”
Early detection is key to finding and treating prostate cancer. Guys, get it done. And ladies, tell them you’ll be glad to make an appointment for them if they don’t.