April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month: Survivors are sharing their stories

Posted at 6:42 AM, Apr 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-04-19 06:42:05-04

The month of April is Testicular Cancer Awareness Month, and while it may sound awkward to talk about, it's mroe common than you might think.

According to the Testicular Cancer Society, nearly 10,000 men will be diagnosed with the cancer in 2024 and 500 will die from the disease.

However, it's a very curable cancer with a 95% survival rate when detected early.

It's a topic that impacts thousands of people, including myself, and I spoke with two survivors whoa re also sharing their story.

My youngest brother, Hampden Meade Maxwell, was diagnosed with stage 3B testicular cancer in October 2019 and within 11 months, in September of 2020 at U-M Medical Center, a priest read my baby brother his last rights as he passed away at just 25 years old.

It's the hardest life experience myself and my family has ever gone through, and there's not a day that goes by where I don't think about him. My mission is to help break the stigma surrounding testicular cancer.

Dr. Daniel Krauss is a radiation oncologist with Corewell Health and said the first step is to remove the testicle.

"If caught early, a relative simple surgery in the majority of cases will be all the treatment that you need and you can save yourself a lot of the complication and risk associated with much more involved cancer treatments.

"As curable as the disease is if it's detected early. it's something that needs to be talked about," Schoolcraft College Baseball coach Rob Fay said.

Fay is a survivor. He was diagnosed in 1999 after finding a lump on his testicle during a self examination. He had it removed and underwent chemotherapy and radiation.

"The ironic thing about me being diagnosed at the age I was which was about 26. I was more worried about loosing my hair than anything else," he said. "I don't know if I was or really got scared. I just think it was something that came about and I had a great support system and the doctors I worked with made me feel comfortable with it."

Michael Craycraft is the founder of the Testicular Cancer Society. He's a survivor himself and every year, they launch a new campaign to raise awareness since it's been difficult to implement education in schools.

"Our most recent campaign is called "Highlight Your Balls" where we use YouTube to help us out," he said. "We've had to figure out ways to get around that to go where these young people are to educate them without the help of the educational system.

Warning signs of 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

Fay says he educates his players about the warning signs
"It's a simple conversation we have with our guys even in passing by asking if you have tested lately," he said.