This year, resolve to take hold of your personal health

With 2015?s predictable arrival come many New Year?s resolutions. I admit that I have made many of these commitments to myself over the years to effect control over the indulgences of life.

Many want to lose weight and get in better physical shape, or perhaps they are more personal like working on an important relationship that is not all it could be or returning to school for more education.

Those are all great resolutions that I personally have made to myself over the decades. Some of them I succeeded at, but many I have not had either the means or the resolve to stick with and get them done.

All that changed for me five years ago when I was diagnosed with Stage IV anal cancer. Without going into the my long story of diagnosis, prognosis and odds-defying recovery, I want to stand up on my soapbox and tell you all something. If you make any resolutions at all this year, I?d like you to consider making your health a top priority.

I am not talking about diet and exercise here, although that?s not a bad idea. I am referring to taking advantage of all the things that are generally afforded you in health care. Did you know most insurance plans pay for a yearly physical?

This piece is not about debating the HCAA, by any means, but most people, myself included up until the last five years, rarely take advantage of this when they do have it.

Life-saving screening procedures like PSA blood tests, mammograms and colonoscopies are offered when certain age milestones are met. Even a simple EKG can pick up on the beginnings of heart disease.

Women are generally fastidious when it comes to their annual breast exams and take advantage of the many options available to them to get it done. Men often don?t get their PSA checked for monitoring prostate health. Their thinking is they feel OK so nothing could be wrong.

Colonoscopies, which screen for all the lower GI cancers, are often put off or delayed by folks in general. My husband learned through his employer that only about 5 percent of eligible employees, that?s not a typo, take advantage of this offered service.

OK, enough with the statistics. As we embark on 2015, make a commitment to take care of the body you have. Really take care of it. You are only given one, and it requires careful maintenance.

Most of us would never dream of straying from the maintenance recommendations for our automobiles. For instance oil changes, tire rotation and radiator flushes must be done. Why? Because we consider cars valuable, necessary assets and if we don?t care for them the consequences could be catastrophic. We scrape up the money and make the time.

Make the same commitment to your body. If you have the benefit of a yearly physical, get one. Forget about all the excuses not to go. My favorite reason to avoid personal inspection by my physician was I wanted to lose some weight before I made an appointment. It seems ridiculous now, but I was rationalizing that I needed to be in ?good shape? to let my doctor examine me. It never dawned on me that he might be able to provide some tools and support for me to improve my overall health.

If you?re over 50 years old, there are lots of screening tests that are recommended and available to you at little to no cost. Even a $20 co-pay is a small price to pay for an inspection and tune-up for the machine that is your body.

The way I see it, health is our most personal, valuable asset. It has more importance than a car or a home or anything that is owned. I want to challenge you to take hold of your health. Now that my well-being remains in constant jeopardy, more than mere ?maintenance? must be done on it. There is an ever-present threat that I may lose it. My body may be beyond repair.

I can hardly believe that I treated my car better than my body! It doesn?t even make sense to me as I write this, but I am compelled to reveal these truths in order that others might be spared.

I wish you all a happy and healthy 2015! Take care of yourselves so it will be the best year ever for you and you are granted many more years to come!

Michele Longabaugh lives in Wichita. She tells the story of her fight with Stage 4 cancer in her book, ?If You?re Not Laughing, You?re Dying.?

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