These days, everywhere I look there is talk of health. From medical shows on TV to magazines on display at the supermarket, we are presented with health information everywhere we turn. We are told to eat this food…take this supplement…do these exercises in order to be healthy…only to be told to do the opposite sometime later when new research is published. It can really drive a person crazy!
It is rare, however, for the television doctors or magazine articles to advise their viewers or readers to do one of the simplest and most basic things they can do for their health: see a doctor for a checkup. In the July 2012 issue of Oxygen magazine, its publisher, the late fitness publishing icon Robert Kennedy, details how he was the picture of health and fitness until he was stricken with cancer. He believes that had he have gone for regular checkups, his cancer may have been detected at an early stage when it was treatable. In his farewell letter, he advises his readers, “The trick is to stay on top of your health and visit a competent doctor regularly.” Exercise, eating right and managing stress all play a role, for sure, but there’s also another component, which is to be a “vigilant custodian of your own health,” as Bob so eloquently stated. Sadly, Bob lived for only a few more months after his diagnosis.
I recently learned about an acquaintance who felt that he, too, was the picture of health until he was diagnosed with colon cancer. Unfortunately, he was never screened for this preventable cancer. I have family members who, in spite of having risk factors for cancer, have yet to be screened. As the old saying goes, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
I hope that this blog post motivates you to make the right choices for your health. There is no substitute for time with the doctor when you are well to determine which screening tests are right for you. This must be personalized and it takes time. A six to ten minute quickie office visit just won’t do, just as avoidance won’t either. I implore you to make an appointment with your doctor and insist that he or she discuss which screening tests you should have, which immunizations you need, as well as review your family history. It just might save your life.
What do you do to ensure that you are staying on top of your health – or in Robert Kennedy’s words, a “vigilant custodian” of your health?
As I hit “send” to publish this blog post, I’d like to ask Patch readers to give me feedback on what topics you’re interested in hearing about or learning about. After all, as a physician who has made it my life’s work to put prevention first, if I’m not giving you information to help you improve your health, then I’m not doing my job.
Here’s to your health –