It’s been about 13 months since I made my first appointment with my family doctor to discuss some weird symptoms I’d been having – symptoms that finally came to a head six months later when I learned I had precancerous cells all over my cervix.
It’s been a little over three years since I had a benign polyp removed from my cervix.
It’s been over seven years since my first abnormal PAP result.
As I’ve been training for my first half-marathon this weekend (GAHHHHH!!!!), I’ve found myself thinking a lot about my health and wellness. (Or, perhaps I’m just getting old.) Working in the healthcare industry for the past two years, I’ve learned a lot through research, simply being in the business, and hearing stories directly from patients and it has completely changed my outlook on health, wellness, and healthcare.
Healthcare, I’ve realised, is too often viewed as a series of symptoms, ailments, disease states, diagnoses, and possible therapies instead of a lifelong activity one must remain engaged in. Health isn’t something that happens to us; it’s something we are in charge of – within reason, of course – and something to care for.
Like so many things in life, health and healthcare isn’t a “one and done”. There’s no shortcut. No magic pill. No single exercise or activity to fix it – it’s never-ending, a gift, and, frankly, it’s a massive responsibility.
There are things that will happen that are out of my control – maybe those precancerous cells will turn to cancer, or perhaps I’ll develop an allergy or have another, catastrophic health event that’s totally unpreventable – but there are things that are in my control.
I can make it to every PAP test, every physical, and every blood collection appointment.
I can eat well. I can go to bed on time and get the sleep I need.
I can be active.
These are choices I make, but they are also requirements for me if I want to live the life I want to lead. They are non-negotiable when it comes to the values I want to instil in my kid.
Now, I’m not saying I’m perfect. But it’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. I’ll slip up, make mistakes, skip a workout and eat cake for breakfast. But I won’t give up on every positive, healthy activity because of one slip up.
Because progress, like my healthcare, should be never-ending.