Testicular cancer prevention touch your balls, macho man

Testing for your testicles is likely not something you've heard much about. If you haven't heard much yet, you should.

Testing for your testicles is likely not something you’ve heard much about. If you haven’t heard much yet, you should get to know your balls much better.

Testicular cancer is the number one cancer affecting men between the ages of 15 and 29 and untreated it can cause infertility.

Scott Wilson is in his mid-thirties, lives with one testicle and his advice to young men is “for lack of a better term, don’t be a macho guy.”

“If you notice anything different go get it checked.”

He first noticed a lump last year before in April. “It felt like my testicle had dropped a little,” he said.

He was tested May 1, diagnosed May 2 and had surgery June 3, 2013.

He had an orchiectomy, which he describes as a “fancy term for taking off your testicle.”

“I’m lucky,” he said. Without his supportive wife, friends and family he said the journey would have been difficult.

He wants the message to get out for younger men because the disease can affect teens as well.

“When you’re younger you don’t want to talk to your friends, or even your parents about your [genitals],” he said.

Removing that taboo is why he’s speaking at the first ever Testicular Cancer Canada Patient Education Symposium on Saturday, April 5 at Toronto General Hospital.

He hopes that the word testicle will soon be as common as breast is now.

The Breast Cancer Society successfully made the word “breast” an everyday word, at least more so than it was “twenty or thirty years ago,” he says.

In an effort to help the word testicle along that path, the nurse Miller sees regularly has a slogan: “Testicle Tuesdays and Touch it Thursdays.”

Miller says, it’s all about knowing yourself.

He and his support group try to keep things light. There are three men in his group in Wingham near Kitcherner. One of the men has a prosthetic testicle implant, Miller and the other member do not. He jokes that between them they make two full pairs. They call themselves Three Testicles and a Falsey.

While there is a fine balance between being light-hearted and staying on message when it comes to any disease, he says, “If I lost my thumb it would be more traumatic.”

It was in this vein of diffusing with comedy that two Toronto ad agencies, Crush and BBDO, joined forces to raise money for Testicular Cancer Canada by producing the video called Not-the-sac Wax.

They threw a party where every man that came through the door had to either donate to the cause or submit to having their inner legs waxed while their reactions were filmed.

The result is a film that shows how short-term pain could help some with long term gain for the health of their testicles.

David Whiteson works for Crush and he participated in the wax-off.

“I manscape anyway,” he said, but he says he doesn’t “fit the rest of his body now,” since one section is so hairless.

The men’s reactions were filmed in real-time for partygoers to watch.

Twenty men had their inner thighs waxed all in the name of cancer prevention.

When NOW asked if he would ever get waxed again, he said “I’m not going to run out to do it,” but he said the campaign changed his mind about testing.

Cheryl Perry is the founder and executive director of Testicular Cancer Canada and she describes the exam as comparable to a breast exam.

The website explains the exam this way: “Feel each testicle and roll it between your thumb and finger. It should feel smooth. It’s normal to feel a soft, tender tube towards the back of each testicle. You shouldn’t feel any pain when checking your testicles.”

This campaign and Perry’s work is all about, “encouraging men to know their bodies.”

So, don’t be afraid to cop a feel for yourself. As the saying goes an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

cynthiam@nowtoronto.com | @cynthiajmcqueen

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