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Give Yourself a Testicular Exam
Today we're going to examine ourselves. And by ourselves, I mean our balls. Why, you may be asking, are we examining our bits and pieces today? Well, testicular cancer is the most common malignancy in young men between the ages of 20 and 34. It's also is the number one cancer killer among men in this same age group. Who knew that the one thing two things that makes a man a man, can also be the very things that kill you?
The good news is that if detected early, testicular cancer is almost always curable. But in order to detect cancer, you need to know what to look for and also how to look for it.
Do I Need Regular Testicular Self-Exams?
Most health professionals recommend all men between the ages of 15 and 40 have regular testicular exams performed by a doctor. This is usually done once a year at your yearly physical.
If you have a history of testicular cancer in your family or if you had undescended testicles as a baby, it's recommended that you perform monthly self-exams. Studies have shown that male children with a history of undescended testicles have about 10-40 times higher risk of developing testicular cancer. And here's the kicker: both testes are at higher risk, not just the undescended one. If you don't know if you had an undescended testicle, ask your parents.
The American Cancer Society doesn't recommend that men who have no risk of testicular cancer perform regular monthly self-exams. But even if you aren't at a high risk for testicular cancer, it doesn't hurt to examine yourself every now and then. It's fast, painless, and will give you peace of mind to know that everything is fine under the hood.
Today's Task: Give Yourself a Testicular Exam
Here's how to do it:
It's best to perform the exam right after a hot shower when the scrotal muscles are warm and relaxed. You know when your balls are saggy.
1. Stand in front of a mirror and check for any swelling on the scrotum's skin.
2. Exam each testicle with both hands by rolling the testicle gently but firmly between your thumb and fingers. Don't worry if one testicle feels larger than the other. That's completely normal. Fast fact: A man's left testicle is usually larger than the right one. While you're rolling each testicle in your hands, look for hard lumps on the surface of it.
3. Don't confuse the epididymis for a lump. The epididymis is the spongy, tube-like structure that collects and carries your sperm to the prostate. You can feel the epididymis on the top and down the back side of each testicle. This isn't the sort of lump you're looking for.
4. If you notice any sort of hard lump on your testicle, don't freak out yet. Just contact your doctor immediately. Complete and accurate diagnosis can only be performed by a trained medical physician.
Other things to look for:
In addition to lumps on the surface of your testes, be on the look out for these signs of other problems:
Sudden acute pain during the self-examination could mean you have an infection in the epididymis or it could mean the spermatic chord is twisted up and blocking blood flow to your testicles. If you feel pain during the exam, go see the doctor.
You feel a soft collection of thin tubes above or behind your testicles. It's often described as feeling like a 'bag of worms.' This may indicate a varicocele.
Established by his family, friends, and fraternity brothers of E. Paul Suhs, class of '75.
E.(Edwin) Paul Suhs was an outstanding student scholar, leader, and pacesetter serving this chapter in various positions; including chapter president for two years, active leader on campus, and instrumental in leading Illinois Gamma to apply and earn distinction as a chapter receiving the National Fraternity's highest honor, a Buchanan Cup; a Grand Chapter award in chapter excellence from our national fraternity in 1975.
During the spring term of 1974, Suhs was instrumental in leading the SigEp chapter through fund raising and advance ticket sales to secure a concert date with the Chicago Symphony Classical String Quartet to perform live at Monmouth College. The event concluded with a reception at the fraternity house with artists and patrons. This event was talked about for years. Imagine a group of fraternity men spending their time and talents to bring classical music performers of this magnitude to Monmouth and have fun in the process!
In the very early spring of his senior year, Paul was anxious in anticipation to the potential outcome of his acceptance to medical school. While many students at the time tended to apply to as many as a dozen medical colleges, if the were "on the bubble" so to speak, Paul applied to "only" four (the medical colleges of Harvard, Yale, U of Chicago, and Northwestern.) Acceptance letters arrived from all four, and while he may have enjoyed leaving the Midwest to attend an Ivy school, his decision to remain in Chicago, at Northwestern Medical School, became his quest.
Probably Paul might not have told it exactly this way, but brothers of the house knew Paul held a great passion of boat racing! While we'll never know, I'm sure he found the conditions of Lake Michigan up to his liking so much more.
We knew he was among the best students at Monmouth (at the top of his class, doubt he ever earned below an A for a class) during his four years here. No doubt medical schools were wanting him for his wit, character, hard work ethic, and good nature fun he seemed to carry all the time. Learning from him was a given, as much as he cared about our perceived achievements and struggles, he wouldn't sugar coat his disappointment if he felt we could have received higher grades on papers or tests, but in the next minute he was always cheering you on to your next challenge.
After medical school, acutely during the final phase of his residency and preparing for research or private practice, Paul became aware of discomfort and pain which wouldn't cease, tests determined Testicular Cancer. Chemotherapy and radiation treatments were devastating to the body, yet Paul was willing to go through different medical trials with the hopes to gain a cure. As one who spent an afternoon with him shortly before his death, I saw in him the resolve to never let this disease win, yet his medical knowledge was far superior and doctors didn't hold the truth from him, he knew his time was short, he fought the good fight, he was so strong to the end. He married a beautiful girl within weeks prior of his passing. We want to hear from brothers and family members to share their memories. Most importantly, we welcome survivors of Testicular Cancer to share your story as well.
Those whom knew him, his family and friends, knew Paul experienced life to the fullest in everything he pursued.
In 1984, Monmouth College awarded to Paul's family, with fraternity brothers came from afar to be in attendance, a college honor in the hearts of Monmouth alumni as he was so named Young Alumnus Award recipient for his achievements and successes in life.
Illinois Gamma is proud of Paul's contributions to this chapter and proudly recognize him for the life he lead as leader within the Monmouth college community and as a member of our fraternity. Paul stood strongly in the Cardinal Principals of our Fraternity - Virtue, Diligence, and Brotherly Love.
Gifts provided in his memory endowed this scholarship into perpetuity! Brothers continue to fund this endowment. We thank you! Paul, your memory lives on in this scholarship which bears your name.
- Stephen Ehrhart '77