27 November 2022

Char's Story: Mo Sister raising awareness for men's health

5 minutes read time

We had the pleasure to chat with Charmaine Shaw, one of our amazing Mo Sisters. Char has been a Mo Sister since 2020 and each year she goes above and beyond to raise awareness and vital funds for Movember NZ. We asked what Movember means to her, how she is fundraising and the incredible support she has seen from her whānau and friends:

Hey Char! Welcome back! It’s so good to have you here for another Movember campaign. You smashed it in 2021, can you tell us a bit about your epic fundraising efforts last year?

'Kia ora Movember NZ team! Last year I committed to cycling 510 kilometres over the month to represent the 510,000 men we lose to suicide every year worldwide. I put it out there to whānau and friends to submit a photo of a loved one they had lost to suicide and that I would do memorial rides to remember them. I created a ‘bike for a life’ wall, so for every kilometre I completed, I put up a silhouette of a ‘John Doe’ or the photo of the person I biked for. At the end of the month I had 493 silhouettes plus 17 photos or names of someone I had biked for. The rides were sometimes very emotional as knowing they had taken their own life was incredibly sad. The ages ranged from 16 to 60 and four of them were female. This was completed just 5 weeks after breaking several of my ribs in a cycling crash whilst out training for Movember!'

You have done some amazing things in the name of men’s health and you are an inspiration to so many, including us. Can you tell us what made you want to get involved with Movember?

" My son lost his father to suicide in 2011. As a mother it was incredibly heart-breaking to help him journey through that grief while dealing with all the emotions that come with that. "

'My son (then aged 9), lost his father to suicide in 2011. The trauma and tragedy from that death was horrific for my son. As a mother it was incredibly heart-breaking to help him journey through that grief while dealing with all the emotions that come with that. My husband has been an invaluable support to me through the hardest time of my life supporting my son. As a whānau we are very lucky to have had wonderful support including some positive male role models. He is almost 21 now and I'm sure when he has children of his own he will be an extra special dad to his children because of what he went through and also due to what he missed out on. I only found out about being a Mo Sister in 2020 and have not looked back since.'

Thank you for sharing that with us, we can't imagine how tough that would have been for you both. Can you share with us how you are getting involved this year?

'A friend came up with the caption 'Push for Prevention, which sounded great so I decided to go with ‘Push for Prevention - 30 for 30’. Which means 30 minutes of exercise every day for 30 days. I knew with my knee injury it would be a huge task so another friend of mine suggested getting others onboard and seeing if they would help me. The buy in on the challenge has been great with lots of people taking part. To date, I have not missed a day. I also completed a course today wearing full riot gear! This included going upstairs and downstairs, along two different corridors - successfully completing 60 laps in honour of the 60 men we lose to suicide per hour worldwide. This was by myself and two of my work colleagues.'

You mentioned your knee earlier. Incredibly you are about to undergo surgery for the 12th time. Despite this, you are still taking on this huge challenge. Can you tell us a bit more about this injury and how it has affected you?

'Originally I had a full ACL reconstruction in 1997, aged 15. I sustained this injury playing rugby league. Over the years I went on to have further reconstructions, MCL, PCL, meniscus and arthroscopy surgeries. This next surgery is still atleast 6-9 months away. I will try my best to keep working the whole time up to surgery!'

Can you give us an insight into what it’s like working at the prison and the challenges you face in your workplace?

'Working on the frontline in a prison presents many challenges. It is a busy place that requires you to be on your ‘A’ game for the duration of your shift. Thinking about situation awareness, tactical communications, working with integrity, having your colleagues and your leadership teams’ backs, building a good rapport with prisoners, showing up for your shift and leaving site safely to return to your family.'

Thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few of our questions and share your story with our Movember family. Is there anything else or a message that you would like to share with the Mo community?

'Please keep talking with your family and your mates. The ripple effect from a loss of life due to suicide is very painful. It still affects us all hugely now, even 11 years later. Especially our males - check in regularly and don’t be afraid to have that conversation if you notice changes in behaviour and attitude. We need our grandads, dads, brothers, husbands, uncles, cousins, nephews, sons, partners and grandsons to know they are loved and there is help.'

'Fa’afetai lava, nga mihi whakawhetai.'

If you would like to learn more about how to spot the signs or how to have those important conversations if you do feel like something is wrong, we have many useful tools on our website which we will link below:

Spot The Signs - Spot a bro who's feeling low.

Movember Conversations - What to say to a mate who's toughing it out.

Support Lines - Local resources for men's health.