Hong Kong’s Reigning Movember Ambassador Claudia Leung Talks Her Journey So Far
November 21, 2022
As we are surpassing the halfway checkpoint of Movember, we are seeing many free-growing beards flourishing, and new health achievements being unlocked as a show of solidarity. Spearheading the movement locally is the non-profit cause Phenomenally Pink, which has been temporarily re-named to Phenomenally Mo for the month.
Led by Claudia Leung, team leader for the Phenomenally Mo crew and Hong Kong’s reigning Movember ambassador, the city has been growing its support through conscious consumption and community fundraising.
Stepping into her seventh year of canvassing, The Beat Asia chats to Claudia on her journey of fundraising for men's cancers so far, and how she found the motivation to tackle her most memorable challenges.
Why did you begin taking part in the Movember cause?
My Movember campaigning started in 2016 because my dad was diagnosed with prostate cancer and Movember provided me with the tools to learn what [the disease] was, what my dad was experiencing, and how to support him through it. I then started fundraising to give my dad the confidence to talk openly about what he was dealing with physically and mentally, and not as something to be ashamed of.
My dad’s biggest regret was that he didn’t get checked early – I have two older brothers too, so this really stuck with me. I wanted to do this for my dad, family, friends, and their loved ones too. Six years later, I’m still trying to get the message out there. Awareness is key!
What does being a MoSister mean to you?
Even though Movember is about men’s health, this made the role of a MoSister even more significant. I wanted to inspire women to support the men in their lives to speak more openly about mental health and encourage them to get checked early. Currently, my dad was told his cancer had advanced to stage 4, spreading to his bones and lymph nodes, and I always think: if only we had checked it earlier.
What would you consider the biggest growths or achievements you’ve encountered as part of the Movember movement so far?
My biggest Mo’ achievements so far is seeing how much Movember has grown in HK since 2016! It’s so special to me to see the communities I’ve touched that continue to support Movember after I introduced it to them, from my previous gyms at Pinnacle Black, to Coastal Fitness, and now at my current gym, HYBRID.
I’ve even had old colleagues in F&B and friends that reach out to me to say that my dad’s story had inspired them to support Movember too. This has been the ongoing motivation behind my campaigning efforts, to try and raise awareness and make an impact through different communities.
What has been your most significant Movember challenge so far and how did you overcome it?
The challenge every Movember is me because over the course of 6 years, I have raised over HK$330,000 to support Movember, so I’ve always put immense pressure on myself to raise more donations than the last, as it’s only natural to want to try and do more.
I am not an ‘athlete’, so having to balance the month-long challenge, my day job, trying to see friends and family, eating right, sleeping… it gets hard both mentally and physically. So, for me to overcome this, I’ve had to take a step back for my well-being, to use my family and friends for support. And that’s how I’ve always overcome this challenge, because of the amazing people motivating me— a reminder I always tell my dad too.
As the Phenomenally Mo Team Captain, where do you find inspiration to create these challenges and collaborations?
My first strength and performance coach from Pinnacle Black, Danny Atamu (aka my seven-year MoBro) has been a huge inspiration behind my yearly Movember challenges. I do hard challenges because I wanted to motivate my dad to get into fitness, since he has to be mentally and physically stronger to fight the cancer. Plus, fundraising is easier when you’re doing something that really impresses people…
Over the years I have rowed 360,000m for the men that lost their lives to prostate cancer, did an iron-woman workout challenge, and just last year I deadlifted 100,000kg, ran 150km, rowed 200km, and biked 250km in 30 days. This Movember, I am running approximately 7km a day (for my 7th year) and taking part in four big MO’ challenge spread across every weekend. These include lifting 100,000kg in 6 hours, a 65km coastal trail hike in 12 hours, and competing in HYROX and Hybrid gyms first MO’ throwdown event.
How would you describe the MoBros and MoSisters community? How can we all get involved and participate?
The Mo community has really grown this year ever since more COVID-19 restrictions were lifted. You can find lots more gyms, restaurants, bars, sports clubs, and corporates getting involved with fundraising teams and events. Even with Phenomenally Mo, we had a few small businesses reach out to do fundraisers with us, including Calibrate Studios and XYZ, most of them female led too – so it’s impressive to see a lot more women waving the MoSister flag!
Any words of advice for those who wish to start a conversation with their loved ones about health and mental wellbeing?
Be patient, positive and go in with an open mind. My dad took a long time to really talk about the cancer at the beginning, especially within Chinese culture, it wasn’t an easy topic. My brothers and I researched a lot into prostate cancer and the types of treatments available, to educate my dad so he knew he had options. We all found it easier to understand what he was going through too when we accompanied him to his doctor appointments, to know how we can better support him through his journey.
What do you hope to see in the future of men’s healthcare and men’s mental health awareness?
Over time, I hope people automatically think of Movember every November in Hong Kong – breast cancer awareness month is so well known and always connected to October, so I want the same effect for Movember across the local and expatriate communities. Hong Kong people need to know the resources available when going through prostate or testicular cancer, for mental health and suicide prevention, as The Hong Kong Cancer Fund has a lot of programs to support men that need it.
I also hope more of the community, businesses and corporates, continue to support Movember as well, as it’s through these different networks and reaching more people that will really make an everlasting impact on men’s health and stop men from dying too young.
Another great way to support Claudia’s 2022 Movember journey in Hong Kong, all whilst adding traction to the fantastic global cause, is to order from Nutrition Kitchen with the special Movember code: CLAUDIA200
Apply the code to enjoy a HK$200 discount on your orders, with a portion of sales going to the Movember fund! The code is valid until next week (Nov. 30) and requires a minimum of two weeks' orders. Make your meals matter this month! For more information on fun Movember events and activities you can be a part of, check here.
What’s more the Phenomenally Mo group is also organizing a one-day Hybrid Gyms Mo’ Throwdown that’s open to all. No matter your fitness level, the wellness event welcomes any duos who wants to get involved in fundraising by offering hour-long sessions of dopamine raising activities. Signs up are here, with a HK$200 donation per team.
Keep up with Claudia and the Phenomenally Pink/Mo team by following their official Instagram page here.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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