Saturday, March 12, 2011

Listen To Your Body...

And take care of it. Now that the warmer weather is approaching we are going to hear all the warnings about exposure to sun, sunscreen and skin cancer. But that’s not the only danger to our health. Most people don’t think about checkups unless they are experiencing symptoms of one kind or another. Often, for certain diseases, symptoms often mean that it may be too late for a good outcome from treatment.

When you reach certain ages there are tests that are recommended to maintain our health and for early detection of any potential problems. Consider this a subtle reminder or a little push to start getting examined by your personal physician and follow any recommendations to go for specific tests or to specialists who will do routine exams.

Mammograms are an important screening test which should be done regularly. I know it’s hard to remember and not the most pleasant of experiences, but it is necessary. I have to go every year so I try to schedule it for some time around my birthday as something I do to take care of myself. We need to see our gynecologists and get a Pap smear every 1 to 3 years to screen for cervical cancer. Colonoscopies need to be done at the age of 50, unless you have a family history of colon cancer which may require you be screened earlier. This test is done every 5 to 10 years and is my least favorite test. The test itself is a piece of cake but the preparation is hard. Still, it is not as hard as having colon cancer and the suffering that comes with it. I witnessed what it did to my father and I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s important to be screened for diabetes, high cholesterol, and osteoporosis. Your blood pressure should be taken every two years. Depending on your family history your doctor may suggest other tests as well.

I found I always had time for the things everyone in my family needed to get done. There was never any time for me to schedule my tests and doctors visits. But you know what? When the worst thing happened, and I was diagnosed with cancer, suddenly that’s all there was time for. Doctor’s visits, biopsies, operations, CT scans, seven weeks of radiation five days a week, MRIs, Pet Scans and whatever else. Everything else took a back seat while I ran from place to place. But, what I had would not have been detected by the tests I mentioned above. It was very rare.

Medicine has come a long way and many things can be detected early and cured. You don’t want to wait until you feel something is wrong. You need to stay on top of things and take care of yourself, if not for your sake, for your family’s. Spring is here, the weather has improved. Maybe this is the time to start making those appointments so you’ll be done by summer?

I promise you, if you have yourself checked out, you won’t regret it and you will have the peace of mind in knowing your are healthy.

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