With a little mental preparation, you can be ready for anything.
When was the last time you had a good feel of your testicles? Or your partner’s testicles, assuming they have them, of course? Needless to say, if you’re reading this at work or on the train, now is not the time to do it. But please, do it when you get home.
Having had testicular cancer myself—losing one of the crown jewels in the process—checking up on your balls is something I feel really passionate about. Obviously, I’m passionate about encouraging every aspect of men’s health (women’s too for that matter) but this one area could be so easily improved.
To me, it’s a no-brainer. There is nothing to be gained by putting it off and everything to be gained by doing it. And if you do find something you’re worried about, go and visit the doctor. They’ll have seen thousands of testicles in their time—even more, if we count both of them individually—so no need to be embarrassed. It could save your life. It really did save mine.
It goes without saying that men are protective about their balls. Maybe that’s why not everyone finds it easy to broach this subject. It’s just one of the reasons I’m filled with admiration for the Movember campaign. This simple idea started at a pub table in Adelaide, Australia many years ago and has turned into a global phenomenon. They’ve done an incredible job of raising money to fight testicular cancer, prostate cancer and now to support men’s mental health.
But it’s what the Movember campaign does for awareness around these issues really blows me away. After all, every individual Mo’ is a little top-lip billboard, it advertises the fact that its proud wearer is doing his bit to support the campaign, but it’s also a conversation-starter. In the age of social media, for every mo’ that grows, hundreds of people get to see it. While the conversation might begin with a discussion of Tom Selleck’s best movie roles, it’s one that segues quite naturally into men’s health issues. And let’s face it guys, when it comes to personal health issues, we’re not the best at keeping track, nevermind discussing these things with partners, friends or the local doctor. Who knows how many lives have been saved by this little conversational prompt. Men of Movember, I salute you.
As the co-founder of Headspace, much of my time is spent encouraging people to look after the health of their mind by taking some time out of each day to meditate. Apart from feeling calmer and clearer, there is some great scientific evidence showing it improves our physical health, too.
But of course, there are some things in life that are out of our control, no matter how well we take care of ourselves. Having a clear, calm mind and a good sense of perspective in these situations is invaluable. But I think that, in the end, you need to remember that you can’t do it on your own. Talking about your health problems might feel impossible. But there’s nothing manly about dying of something you were too embarrassed to mention.
So please, just for me, when you get a quiet moment, check those balls.