Teen Dies of Cancer After He's Too Embarrassed to Tell Mom He'd Found a Lump

Michael RushbyWhen was the last time you sat your teenager down for a talk about his or her private parts? Ohhhh, you think they're too old for that? This might change your mind: a teen died of testicular cancer this month. He was just 16 years old.

It's tragic. And sad. And it all could have been prevented.

It turns out Michael Rushby was too embarrassed to tell anyone he'd found a lump in his testicles. Sadly, that fear is what killed him. By the time he told his older brother, eight months after he first noticed something was off, it was too late. His parents took him to the doctor, but after just two weeks, their son was dead.

I don't blame the parents here, nor do I blame the poor kid. But as his mom makes the rounds of the media to push talking to kids about medical issues, no matter how embarrassing, I'll take it one further.

We need to de-stigmatize talking about our bodies. Period.

Kids need to know that it's OK to come to us not just with something as scary as a big lump in the groin, but the simpler stuff: tampons vs. pads and hair growth and body odor and ...

Particularly, we need to keep the lines of communication open during the teen years. When you stop talking to your kids just because you think they're old enough to know everything, what message are we sending? That these things aren't to be talked about?

I know, it's kind of uncomfortable to think about talking to a son who is taller than you are about his penis or a daughter who has a bigger bra size than you about her breasts. But you're the parent. Deal with it.

There's a lot more at stake than your comfort here.

Do you talk to your kids about their private areas? When did you stop?


Image via Rushby family

body image, health


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nonmember avatar Emmie

We talk very scientifically and matter of fact about our bodies. They are bodies - we all have one. Nothing to be embarrassed about.

Histo... HistoryMamaX3

This is so tragic... and it starts with the parents. So many people consider them 'bad' parts- they can't even call them by their real names! We are so ashamed of our bodies we have to hide them behind ridiculous names in order to even address their existence.

Get over it. Grow up. You're not being cute or modest- you're doing your child a disservice.

nonmember avatar kaerae

This is why it makes me so mad when people won't use correct terminology for their own body parts. It's not cute to call a penis a "weiner," it tells your kids it's not meant to talk about, and makes them less likely to tell you about abuse or illness. I can't believe people still give stupid little names to their child's body parts, If you can say ears, you can say penis. This poor family, I'm glad his mother is helping spread the word!

2nino... 2ninos4me

thats so sad :/ 

we live in a society that makes watching porn something normal but talking our bodies a taboo and an embarrasment :/

i will definitely talk to my kids about their bodies and any concern they may have when they are older ( theyre too young right now , as in not even kindergardeners lol ) i rather have " a weird and embarrasing convo about what our bodies and such than mourn my child because i was too embarrased too talk to them :/

may he R.I.P and  my condolences to his family :/ 

hello... hellokd87

This is sad for everyone involved. My prayers are with the family.

nonmember avatar NoWay

My cousin died a couple years ago for a similar reason. He found a lump but was embarrassed to go to the doctor (or he just didn't take the time). The cancer spread to his brain and he died. He was only in his 20's. I tell my boys that they can tell me anything and if they are not comfortable because "I'm a girl and it's a boy problem", they can always talk to their dad, step-dad, grandpas, uncles, etc. Or, they can always have me call the doctor. We don't mess around with that kind of stuff.

Lacey Tierney

We talk openly about our bodies. it's important that my boys feel they can do this with us so we encourage it.

Jaime Swift Sundin

Um doesnt matter what a parent calls their boys private parts, the parents could have been totally open and discussed health issues with their son way before hand.  If the son CHOSE not to say anything then how would the parents know?   Its not like a mom is going to say whip out your penis and let me check it for lumps give me a break.  NO ONE is to BLAME..  Bad things happen and have a tragic ending, its a horrible part of life and it sucks.  I feel so much pain and anguish for this family and what their going through and for people to judge the parents is really pathetic.

Lesa Helms

I'm a 23 year old mom. Last week I asked my mother to feel a lump on my breast. She thinks that it isn't cancer, but is urging me to go to the doctor. It could be as simple as an infection or worse. I am waiting for an appointment as I don't have insurance. Point being is that even though I am 23, I still need my mom to feel the weird things and put my mind at ease while I wait for an appointment. I hope my children will talk to me like I can talk to my mom.

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