Testicular Cancer Care: The Ball is in Your Court

As you gain experience as a nurse, you also become a little numb to all things gross. So many different bodily fluids splatter on your scrubs that it eventually stops being nauseating. Fortunately, this is not a bad thing since it makes it easier to do your duties as a nurse.
There are, however, a few things that still make even the toughest male nurse cringe. Testicular cancer is one of the most prominent. After all, any man would agree there is one special place on your body you never want to feel any pain or discomfort. As a male nurse, testicular cancer affects your life in a lot of ways as you juggle getting your own examinations, as well as caring for patients and/or family members who suffer from this type of cancer.

Taking Care of Yourself: Routine Checkups

As a nurse, you are compassionate and provide care to a lot of people. The question is – how often do you provide care to yourself? You must remember that your patients need you, and you can’t continue to care for them if you do not also take proper care of yourself.

Statistically, 92 percent of Americans believe a routine physical is important, but only 62 percent go to the doctor for that important checkup. How often you must go to the doctor for a routine checkup varies by age:

  • Ages 19 to 21, once every 2 to 3 years
  • Ages 22 to 64, once every 1 to 3 years
  • Age 65 and up, once every year

According to the Testicular Cancer Society, it is also important for you to perform a self-exam once a month. Just do it once a month after you get out of the shower. You can even text @selfexam to 81010 if you need a monthly reminder via text to perform your self-check.

Caregiver’s Story

Working in the medical industry, you are often the first person close family members and friends call for medical advice. So, you may find yourself in a situation where you provide caregiver support to a family member suffering from testicular cancer. Most people don’t realize that testicular cancer affects more than just the person suffering from the cancer. This time is also stressful for caregivers and even medical providers.

According to the caregiver of Ian McWhirt, a 19-year-old with a Stage IIIB testicular cancer diagnosis, providing care to someone who is a victim of this type of cancer takes an army.

It requires an extreme amount of organization.

“At home, Ian’s 12 medications were in his bedroom with doctor’s instructions next to them, and a thermometer, hand sanitizer, and doctor’s emergency numbers. I logged Ian’s temperature from 2-4 times each day and rated his symptoms and side effects as they did in the hospital. Persistent chest pain, headache, signs of internal bleeding, or slight fever meant a trip to the ER.”

You must always stay prepared.

“We kept an extra pillow and blanket in the car for driving to his appointments, and a plastic bag in case he needed to throw up. I always carried items for Ian in my purse — bottled water, earplugs, his music and headphones, hard candy, dried fruit, chewing gum, and occasionally a package of Pop Tarts, one of the few foods he could eat without throwing up.”

You must remember they are more than a cancer victim.

One of the biggest struggles when providing care for a cancer patient is to remember they are more than just a cancer patient. According to Ian’s caregiver, the 19-year-old appreciated the way his nurses spoke to him about his life and his interests. He found it frustrating when anyone questioned what it felt like to have testicular cancer since it was not a question he could answer.

The Scary Statistics

Every year, between 8,000 and 9,000 men in the U.S. will receive a testicular cancer diagnosis. The diagnosis is most common in men between the ages of 15 and 44, with the average age of 33. However, 14 percent of testicular cases are men older than 55 or younger than 15. The number of testicular cancer cases continues to rise, but the number of men dying from the diagnosis does continue to decline.

Statistics also estimate that roughly 400 to 450 men die from testicular cancer each year. These deaths are the result of the cancer spreading or infective treatment. Monthly self-examinations and yearly doctor examinations are crucial in catching testicular cancer early. Catching testicular cancer early decreases the chance of it spreading to other parts of the body and increases the chances of effective treatments.

As a male nurse, it is only a matter of time before the ball of testicular cancer lands in your court. Just remember to perform your monthly self-exams and encourage male friends, family members, and patients to do the same.

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