Recently, one of our community partners, Karen Oslund, reminded us that cancer isn’t taking a break just because we’re in the midst of a pandemic. Karen is the executive director of the Cancer Resource Centers of Mendocino County and she has a front-row seat to the devastation cancer can cause for individuals and everyone who loves them.
Her comment got us thinking about how hard it is to convince ourselves that now is the time to do preventive care. Even in the best of times—and these are not the best of times—most of us are really good at coming up with reasons why we can wait until tomorrow or next week (or never) to make an appointment for our annual exam or a cancer screening we know we need. Until we have symptoms, we believe we’ll always have more time.
When the coronavirus hit last spring, many of us thought we’d hold our breath until it was over, figuratively speaking. Well, this is lasting longer than most of us expected, and putting life on hold until it’s over doesn’t seem like such a good strategy anymore.
With that in mind, if you have a little extra time on your hands, what better time to schedule an appointment than now? At Mendocino Coast Clinics, we can help you figure out how to afford the care you need, so don’t let that be a barrier.
During an annual check-up, a medical provider will review your family health history, your lifestyle, your age, your emotional state, and your physical condition. With this information, they can let you know which screenings you need and how to decrease your risk of developing chronic illnesses. The simple act of taking your vital signs allows a medical provider to determine whether you’re at risk for common diseases like hypertension. Routine screening serve an important purpose. There is strong science behind the reason that the recommendations are made.
There is no magic number to determine when you’ll start having health problems, but people older than 50 are at higher risk for many illnesses, so once you hit that age, it’s smart to keep an eye on things like blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, colorectal health, and bone density, among other things. Men should also monitor their prostate function and women should become familiar with menopause symptoms. Your medical provider will likely also recommend getting vaccinated for the flu, pneumonia, and shingles.
If you’re thinking, “I feel fine. I don’t need to see a doctor,” you may be right; however, there are some serious health problems that can go undetected for a long time unless you’re looking for them. For example, many types of cancer don’t have noticeable symptoms until the cancer has spread. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, this is a great time for women to go get a mammogram. Most breast cancer, like many types of cancer, is highly treatable when discovered early. Hypertension is another condition that usually doesn’t exhibit symptoms until it has progressed to the point of putting patients at risk.
We’re living in stressful times right now. Why not schedule an appointment for an annual check-up to put your mind at ease and get the care you need to stay strong and healthy now and into the future?