Sarah O’Neill has joined men across the world in a 30-day challenge: Movember, or No-Shave November, a charity event that encourages men to grow facial hair for prostate cancer and men’s health awareness.

The 29-year-old ditched her razor and foam morning routine as she pledged to grow out her facial hair and debunk the myth that only men grow mustaches.

“My cousin does it every year and I just thought 'I have a mustache, I might as well raise some money with it” O’Neill told the Daily Mail.

O’Neill was diagnosed with polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) in 2006 after suffering from excessive weight gain and irregular periods — common symptoms of the rare syndrome. PCOS, a condition of hormonal imbalances, affects one in 10 and one in 20 women of childbearing age, according to womenshealth.gov. Patients with the syndrome typically have ovaries that produce more androgens — male hormones — than normal. In a woman’s body, having this particular hormonal imbalance directly impacts the development and release of eggs during ovulation, which can lead to a miscarriage, gestational diabetes, pregnancy-induced high blood pressure, and premature delivery.

Prior to the 29-year-old’s diagnosis, she felt frustrated that she didn’t know what was happening to her and was “sick of people staring at [her] in the street.” Although the rare syndrome has presented several obstacles for O'Neill, she was relieved to know her condition was the reason for her symptoms.

On a typical morning, O’Neill, like many men, can be caught shaving in front of the mirror. The young woman uses a hair-removal cream prescribed by her doctors to get rid of her facial hair. She also uses tweezers to get rid of stray hairs in between cream treatments. Her brother has even nicknamed her “Mac3” after she began using a razor to downplay her excessive hair growth.

O’Neill’s fiancé, 25-year-old Tina, widely supports her in this endeavor. “She is amazingly brave and I'm so proud of her,” she told the Daily Mail. “It's other people's problem if they can't accept Sarah for who she is, and the people who feel it's OK to stare at her just aren't educated about a health condition.”

The U.K. native is not the first woman to take on the 30-day Movember challenge. In 2012, 36-year-old Siobhain Fletcher from Staffordshire, U.K. — who also suffers from PCOS — saw Movember as a means to embrace her facial hair. Unlike O’Neill, Fletcher shaves every other day. According to the Mirror, she had self-esteem issues growing up and was often mistaken for a man.

“My condition used to contribute to depression and anxiety but this is for a good cause and I want to highlight that people shouldn’t judge you on what you have on your face, it’s what is inside that matters," Fletcher told the Mirror.

O’Neill and Fletcher have both sprouted mustaches and beards, respectively, for Movember to raise awareness of prostate and testicular cancer and the mental health challenges these diseases may bring.

“I might grow a full beard, you never know! I don't know what will happen, but it should be fun,” said O’Neill.

To support and sponsor O'Neill in the 30-day challenge, click here.

Published by Medicaldaily.com