(WXYZ) — The month of November, also known as "Movember," is all about men's health awareness. It brings attention to prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health and suicide prevention.
Many men grow beards or mustaches to raise awareness and start a conversation on men's health.
Talking about testicular cancer may be uncomfortable for some, but it's a conversation that needs to be started. It may help save a life.
Testicular cancer is one of the biggest health issues facing young men between the ages of 15 and 35 today. It's time to raise awareness of the disease.
Mike Craycraft is the founder of the Testicular Cancer Society. He's also a survivor of testicular cancer.
Craycraft wants to bring resources to men who are battling this rare but common cancer.
"I felt a lump and waited seven months to get diagnosed, so I figured as a healthcare professional, there's a lot of other people doing the same thing," Craycraft said. "If I can help prevent that as well as be the spoke of the wheel to get people to come to me, I can show where resources are."
My youngest brother, Hampden Meade Maxwell, was also diagnosed with stage 1 testicular cancer in October 2019 at the age of 24.
The first step in treating the cancer is to remove it, according to Henry Ford Hospital Urologist Dr. Craig Rogers.
"After that, there are treatments that may include chemotherapy, radiation, or further surgery to remove lymph nodes and what's on the retroperitoneum. It truly is multidisciplinary care," he said.
Hampden battled day in and day out, chemo round after chemo round, week in and week out. But, the cancer grew stronger and became more aggressive to stage three quickly.
It eventually spread throughout his entire body, and despite all the treatments, radiation and chemo, my brother sadly passed away at the young age of 25 11 months later.
I am sharing my brother's story with you to raise awareness and normalize the conversation, and to break the stigma around testicular cancer.
According to the American Cancer Society, testicular cancer is the most common cancer in men ages 15-34.
About 10,000 men are diagnosed annually, and about 450 men will die from the disease. The survival rate is 98% if caught early.
"It doesn't matter what the body part is. It's cancer, right? So a lot of time there's humor used in raising awareness. That's because generally you're talking to young men and you need to grab their attention but it should be like any other conversation," Craycraft said.
Warning signs for testicular cancer include:
- Painless lump or swelling in your testicle
- Pain or discomfort in your testicle or scrotum
- Dull ache in your lower abdomen or groin
- Sudden build up of fluid in your scrotum
The biggest advocate you can find, Rogers said, is yourself.
To learn more, visit cancer.org.