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

michael rushby cancer
Rushby family

When 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 testicles or a daughter who is acing Microbiology class about her breasts. But you're the parent. Deal with it.

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

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