01/04/2013 01:55 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

An Awkward Talk That May Save Your Son's Life

Stop. Right now.

And think of some of the young men in your life. Maybe it's your own son. Or that nephew in Newark. A squeaky-clean kid you work with? How about that cute kid down the street who is always outside shooting hoops?

You're probably seeing them smiling, right? And I'll bet money you picture them as healthy.

That's a nice image. Let's work together to keep it that way. Okay?

Would you be surprised to hear that those guys are in the number one age group for testicular cancer? Yup. It's the number one cancer in young men ages 15 to 35. If you didn't know that, you're not alone. Most people -- including most moms and dads -- had no idea.

As the executive director of Single Jingles, a testicular cancer awareness organization, I talk to parents every day who regret the fact that they didn't know their sons were at risk.

Like Tracy Grist, a mom with a teenage son whose own testicular cancer had spread throughout his body by the time it was diagnosed.

"The cancer had been present for two years before we caught it," recalls Grist. "Tim didn't know the warning signs. Nor did I."

Fortunately, testicular cancer is one of the most survivable forms of cancer if it's detected early. And early detection decreases of chances of the cancer spreading to other parts of the body.

For moms and dads, the key is to have a simple -- albeit awkward -- talk with sons about their testicles. As Grist explains, "Trust me, I would give anything to go back in time -- and have a million of those awkward conversations with Tim if it could have prevented the pain, treatment, weight loss and months and months of lost childhood."

The messages parents need to give their kids is simple:

  • Know your testicles!
  • Do a simple, monthly self-exam to look for changes in your testicles (size, swelling, hardness, lumps, bumps, etc.)
  • Make sure your sons know they should always come to you if they feel anything unusual or different with their testicles
  • Take your son to his doctor if either you or your son has any concerns about the health of their testicles.

It's as simple as that.

And if you need a little motivation to have that talk, see what some of your fellow parents have to say about the importance of having that awkward talk:

For more information or to request complimentary shower cards to help you share this life-saving information with your sons, visit the Single Jingles website.