With it being the middle of “Movember“, I thought it was only appropriate to ask someone more qualified than myself to weigh in on testicular cancer and men’s health. My friend, Jessica Karlsruher, development director of the Testicular Cancer Foundation here in the ATX, is that person. Read below to hear why she feels it’s important to educate young men about testicular cancer and what they can do to stay healthy.
I work with the Testicular Cancer Foundation (TCF), a national 501c3, dedicated to awareness, education and support of testicular cancer, the most common cancer in males ages 15-35. Recently, I was approached by my friend, Marisa, to write an article for Austin Mom’s Blog.
At first I was flattered and also excited to share TCF’s life-saving message. Then I started to panic –what in the world am I going to say? I, thankfully, haven’t had experience with cancer and I’m not a male. So I procrastinated. Unfortunately, many males procrastinate with their health too.
Forced with a deadline I had to snap out of it. I started to think, “How do I do my job? What makes me so passionate about the work TCF does?” First, I know that young men are dying of testicular cancer when they could be saved – testicular cancer is 99% treatable if caught in its early stages. Second, having been around TC survivors for almost a year and hearing their stories I know that most of them didn’t think cancer would happen to them. They thought having a swollen ball was funny or that back pain was nothing and it would just go away.
These survivor stories motivate me to work every day to spread the TCF message that detection is key and knowledge is power. Know that you’re talking about BALLS so get the giggles out of the way and then get real.
My husband is in his late 30s, active and healthy and, along with my beautiful 4 yr old daughter, I have an 18 mo old son, who are also active and healthy – and I wake up every day being thankful we’re blessed with good health and fortune. I just couldn’t FATHOM it any other way. But what if you had to?
How well do we women take care of ourselves, get annual check ups, do self-examinations and know signs to look for it there’s something amiss with our bodies or we just don’t feel right? The answer is pretty darn well. We know every line, every blemish, every spider vein. We check our breasts, are diligent about doctor visits and always want to make right what is wrong.
Not men. How well do you know your man? His body? Do you book your significant other’s doctor appointments, encourage overall body self-examination and overall wellness? What about your sons, if you have them? Other than a routine physical (checking for hernias and the prostate, I might add) do the men in your life know about self-examinations and testicular cancer?
The Testicular Cancer Foundation is a survivor-led organization started by Matt Ferstler in 2009 after his testicular cancer diagnosis. Matt was 22 yrs old and finishing college. He had his whole life ahead of him and then heard those three horrific words “You have cancer.” That left him with so many questions. “What is cancer?” “What’s the pain like?” “Will I live?” “Will I have kids?”
These are exhausting emotions to deal with while all your friends are having fun in college, making summer plans, going on job interviews. It’s a heavy weight and the unknown of it all is absolutely draining. Draining for the patient but just as draining for the loved ones – the brothers who are scared they could be next, the sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins, and the parents who think – how could I have prevented this? Why didn’t I know?
Now a 5 year survivor, married and with a child on the way, Matt is more passionate than he was when he first heard those three words. He talks to survivors every day, speaks in front of high school and college kids and is constantly championing for young men to be more aware of their bodies and their health.
Here are some tips on how you can know more about testicular and be a champion too.
- Get smart and learn about testicular cancer.
- Spread the word by using shower cards.
- Have the conversation with your husband, your son, your brother – any male in your life between the ages of 15-35 yrs of age.
- Tweet and post – find out more at www.TCancer.org.
- Help raise money for the Testicular Cancer Foundation. You can host an event, run a race, do a bicycle ride or other fun activity.
Create a fundraising page at www.tcf.causevox.com or donate directly to www.TCancer.org/donate. Every dollar goes back to the awareness and education of testicular cancer through the production and dissemination of our brochures and shower cards as well as partnerships with hospitals, high schools and colleges in local communities.
- Most importantly, self-examinations lead to early detection.
For more information on testicular cancer and the Foundation call us at 855.390.TCF1 or visit www.TCancer.org.