THE BLOG
10/06/2014 04:20 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2014

I Touch Myself

I asked my husband, David, to touch his crotch one morning this week. He gave me a strange look and shook his head, "No." But maybe if he reads this post he will reconsider, along with other men. (We know you probably touch your privates in private anyway!)

#FeelingNuts is an initiative to promote Testicular Cancer Awareness by encouraging men to examine their privates for any irregularities. Much like the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge which raised both awareness and millions of dollars to help support research for a cure for ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), #FeelingNuts is about bringing awareness to and opening the conversation about testicular cancer. Actor Hugh Jackman posted a photo holding his crotch and challenged Michael Strahan and Ricky Gervais to cop a feel. Other male celebrities are taking the lead, and I hope many more men will do the same.

Approximately 1 in 250 men will be diagnosed with testicular cancer. Testicular cancer is the most common form of cancer in men ages 15-35 and it is one of the most treatable cancers, especially if caught early, according to The Testicular Cancer Society.

Being comfortable and familiar with your body and conducting self-examinations to look for signs of anything out of the ordinary is an important part of self-health. We listen to our stomachs when they growl and we feed ourselves. We take Ibuprofen when our head hurts or muscles ache. But are we taking a hard look at our bodies and taking the touch test?

October as we all know is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. And we know early detection is important. But it's more than getting an annual mammogram or having your ObGYN examine your breasts. It's about examining your breasts each month. I found one of my three breast tumors during a self-examination nine months after my mammogram exam detected no irregularities. Imagine if I had not been as vigilant about my health and waited four more months until my next mammogram!

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer. Forty percent of diagnosed breast cancers are detected by women who feel a lump, so establishing a regular breast self-exam is very important, reported Johns Hopkins University.

You should ask your doctor what you can do yourself to examine your body on a regular basis and not just during your annual check up. Self exams for testicular and breast cancer are two examples. Another is skin cancer. It is far more important to peer at the moles or irregular spots on your face and body than stare than at your cellulite and wrinkles.

One in five Americans will develop skin cancer in the course of a lifetime. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that everyone practice monthly head-to-toe self examination of their skin, so that they can find any new or changing lesions that might be cancerous or precancerous. Skin cancers found and removed early are almost always curable.

It's up to you to be proactive. No one is going to look for you. I remember asking doctors to check a dark mole on my father's face when he was hospitalized in critical condition for kidney failure and metastasized prostate cancer. The oncology and renal care specialists were focused on the other end of his body. No one thought to biopsy what was growing on his cheek. It was a melanoma. When would someone else have noticed?

Maintaining self-health is the best self-help you can do for yourself. You should never be embarrassed about your body, caring for it or touching it. And you should always discuss abnormal changes or irregularities within and on your body with your physician. Aside from prevention, early detection is the best way to fight a life threatening illness like cancer. Unfortunately, I know people who were less vigilant about monitoring their bodies with self exams for whom it was too late.

So get in touch with yourself and give yourself a hand... or a feel. And feel good knowing you are taking better steps toward managing your health. Please share this with anyone whom you feel needs to get in touch with his or her health. #ITouchMyself