Speaking candidly about our genitals’ state of health is something not many of us would readily do, so it’s understandable that mums would shy away from addressing the topic with their teenage sons. However, taking the time to talk testicles with your boys could end up saving their lives in the long run.
Testicular cancer is one of the most commonly diagnosed types of cancer in men between the ages of 15 and 39 and claims the lives of many young men who are often too scared or embarrassed to speak up when it comes to finding lumps or irregularities in their testicles.
While it’s certainly not something you’ll be bringing up at the dinner table, talking to your sons about the risk of testicular cancer, how to perform a self-exam, and the symptoms they should be looking out for, is vital for early detection of the disease.
Here are some helpful tips to turn ‘the talk’ into a healthy dialogue between mother and son, and useful facts about testicular cancer to bear in mind.
Create the right environment
Let your son know that he can chat to you about anything that might be on his mind. This doesn’t have to be limited to his health, but can include other aspects of his life – girls, school, friendships, or how much he hates maths (just like you probably did). Show your son that he can come to you with anything that’s bugging him without having to worry about you using your ‘mum voice’ to lecture or scold him. This creates a healthy and accepting environment in the home, so that he feels comfortable enough to talk about even the most embarrassing issues he’s facing, such as having an ache in his testicles.
Look out for the signs
While most men become a lot less vocal about aches and pains as they get older, there are some tell-tale signs mums can look out for that could indicate a problem. For instance, if you notice that he’s experiencing pain in the lower abdomen or back, or if he seems to be experiencing any pain or swelling in his legs, it’s a good idea to book an appointment with the doctor for a check-up as soon as possible.
Make sure he knows how to check himself
Many doctors recommend that teenage boys perform a self-examination of their testicles from the age of 15, and that they do this at least once a month to ensure early detection of the disease. It’s as easy as feeling around after a warm shower or bath for any hard lumps, as well as any noticeable changes to the size, shape and appearance of the testicles. If you’re not up for explaining the process to him, you can simply direct him to the Cancer Association of South Africa’s website, where he will find a thorough explanation of testicular self-exams.
Make it a family affair
Cancer weighs heavily on the victim’s family and loved ones too, so what better way to rally together as a unit to give cancer the finger than taking part in cancer awareness initiatives like the Hollard Daredevil Run 2017? The Run itself is just for the boys and men in your life, but anyone can cheer from the sidelines in solidarity with the runners, who are men of all ages, shapes and sizes coming together for a common cause.