Put Your Health First
ACCORDING TO SUSAN R. KILEY, EVERYONE NEEDS A ROUTINE TO STAY HEALTHY, MENTALLY FIT, AND HOW HER BIZARRE CANCER SCARES PUT HER FOCUS ON HEALTH FIRST.
Your health is in direct correlation with how you treat your mind and body. Each passing year I realize how important my health is to to remain healthy and mentally fit, which is why I focus every day on being a better version of myself than the previous day.
Table of Contents
You Are Not Always in Control of Your Health
Diagnosis of cancer is scary. As a result, I realize an incredible gift of health humans are given, though we neglect through the years. I mean, we have a responsibility to put our health first over other responsibilities in life if we want to live a long life. Correct?
Consequently that lesson hit home home first at the age of fourteen when my family doctor called to tell me that a lump discovered on my left leg lymph node during a wellness check (one I’d put off until I couldn’t walk) was cancerous (potentially). A week later, shivering beneath warming blankets, ready for surgery to remove the lump and my lymph node – sent to Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for review. Days of recovering and the unknown led to a rare diagnosis: Cat Scratch Fever.
In 1989, Cat Scratch Fever didn’t have a cure or treatment options besides removing my lymph node to rid the infection from my leg. After my diagnosis and surgery, every doctor I would see would look at me with bewilderment – no one had actually known or seen a ‘real’ person with Cat Scratch Fever.
THIS is why you are not always in control of your health, but you can make better choices in your life to have a healthier life.
Photo Credit: Susan R. Kiley
“We’re only given one shot at one body. Tomorrow may be too late to decide to put your health first.” ~Susan R. Kiley
Your Choices Can Determine Your Health
Years later, I would experience repeated diagnosis of HPV, a then-new diagnosis of cancerous cells. A routine annual exam confirmed abnormal cells requiring further labs. Unfortunately during this time we didn’t realize my boyfriend wasn’t faithful; the source of the cancerous diagnosis. Unnecessary tests, pain, and agony waiting for results all because ‘faithful’ meant multiple partners to him.
Every six months for almost two years I received punch biopsies (which are not fun) because abnormal cells could result in a full-blown cancer diagnosis. Each ‘punch’ would return either positive or negative. A positive result meant an earlier visit to retest, a negative meant another six months before another check.
HPV is often transmitted via sexual intercourse. During those years and my diagnosis, doctors didn’t correlate HPV and sexual intercourse.
Worst Case Health Scenario
Looking back, my younger self probably thought what the doctor said next was worse than a cancer diagnosis. “You know Susan, you probably won’t ever have children. If you combine the HPV with your endometriosis, it’ll be tough to conceive.” I remember sobbing as the words left his mouth.
Most importantly, my boyfriend finally confessed to cheating. And upon my next three visits to the doctor after dumping him, I tested negative. My diagnosis returned while dating a guy who took spring break – literally as a break – again, he cheated, and once the relationship ended, I tested negative.
I let my choice of my health in the hands of someone I thought placed a higher regard on our relationship. This didn’t make me foolish, it was a huge wake-up call to me to place a higher importance on my health.
You Can Completely Strive For a Healthy You
My HPV diagnosis was the first time I pondered my mortality. Anger, really angry that someones selfishness and ignorance caused years of pain and suffering. It cemented the importance of my health and the people I trust my health to. Years later I would ponder my mortality and how I hadn’t put my health first.
As a young adult, I frequented the sun, often getting burned to achieve a mild healthy glow. And in high school before big dances, I went to a tanning salon — part of fitting in during that age, and something I regret.
According to research, people who indoor tan before age 35 have a 75 percent increased chance of melanoma. More people get skin cancer because of tanning than develop lung cancer because of smoking. HOLY SMOKES! (no pun intended)
To that point, I chose not to listen. Youth thinking leads to regretful adult life. When we are young, we don’t look into the future or the impact our choices as youth have negative impacts on our adult life. We don’t look at family history. My family had a history of cancer; no one had melanoma, as far as I knew. That lesson was driven home when my dermatologist biopsied a suspicious mole on my left hip during a routine skin check (one I’d never thought of having) was melanoma.
Be Proactive of Your Health
Returning to the dermatologist’s office the following week felt like a death sentence. During the removal, I thought back to the times in college I laid exposed on a table waiting for the punch and wondering if this was the time I hadn’t escaped. Waiting a week for the unexpected is like a child waiting to open presents at Christmas. Agony.
While it’s important to remain calm, I understand that this is not always the case. Having one mortality scare years earlier caused a lot of stress. I didn’t know what to expect when I arrived at the office. To boost my stress even further and know with more certainty that you are, in fact, actually causing the stress, communication with your physician is key.
Rid Yourself of Toxicity For a Healthier You
Removing melanoma in the office requires an incision and then removal of ‘bad’ tissue. The doctor then goes and examines under a microscope. On the first attempt, she hadn’t removed it all, so she returned to my room to go further – she needed to find a healthy edge. Every incision and removal turned into a waiting game while she examined under a microscope.
Finally, on the last attempt the door opened, “We got it! You will need to return every six months for check-ups.” Yep, it sometimes takes multiple attempts to find healthy tissue. Of course, every sample is sent to a lab for verification after removal. I received the good news seven days later – healthy!
3 Ways to Put Health First
The Struggle is Real. You're Not Alone.
You Can Learn New, Transferrable Life Skills
Each person plays a vital role in learning new, transferrable like skills for a healthier life and subsequently, a longer life. The problem is life is generally so hectic we neglect ourselves before our other responsibilities – that’s how most of us work—putting others before ourselves, our health. Now, at the beautiful age of 45, I take steps to put myself and my health first.
Learn a New Sport For Physical and Mental Well-Being.
I didn’t grow up playing golf, but I think it’s an excellent sport, so I’ve focused 2020 on learning and growing as a golf player. My partner talks about how he’s been playing for twenty years, and the workout you get from golf stimulates you mentally and is physically challenging. I like that it requires mental and physical focus.
My partner and I have been together for over six years, and one of the ways we’ve strengthened our relationship is by playing golf on our kidless weekends together. We do ride in a cart; we talk and laugh. It’s our time. It’s not a forced activity or bonding experience; it’s an opportunity to reconnect and catch up on what’s happening in our lives. Golf is a way we build a healthy relationship.
Sun Protection Like Sunscreen, Sun Clothing, and Hats.
Most importantly since my cancer scare, I always use a 30 SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen moisturizer – daily. Even if it’s 8 a.m. and cloudy and I’m sitting at a soccer game, I put sunscreen on. Even during the cold midwest winters – I use SPF moisturizer as a way to put my health first. I take it very seriously and make my kids protect themselves also.
“The American Association of Dermatology (AAD) recommends that a “broad spectrum” sunscreen (meaning it protects against ultraviolet A (UVA) and ultraviolet B (UVB) rays with an SPF of at least 15 that is applied daily to all sun exposed areas, then reapplied every two hours.”
Scour the web for reasons why sunscreen – a broad-spectrum should be used year round, at any age regardless of ethnicity or gender. Melanoma is serious. If you are ready to put your health first sunscreen should be in your arsenal bag.
Exercise Is The Key to Happiness.
Therefore, my current routine is to get up early (5:15 a.m.), read my recent book and journal, then start breakfast for my kiddos before I open emails and start my workday. I work out either to something I’ve programmed or to one of my favorite YouTuber friends, Get Up With Nards.
Being eight months post-op shoulder and bi-cep surgery/repair, I’ve gotten back into working out on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday/Sunday. On the other days of the week, I walk my dog (daily) up to three times per day. And because I don’t believe in perfection, I miss, because life continues to happen, and I’m no longer rigid or hard on myself for missing a day or two.
There are many reasons to learn a new sport, wear sunscreen or exercise. Above all, it keeps you healthy.
Set Goals For a Healthy You
As it turns out, you should always get some form of exercise every day. Walk, dance or take an on-line fitness class. Moving is key to a healthy you. For me, having a rower and weights in a dedicated room helps on days I’m restricted on time. I remind myself that I need to put my health first, it’s what I was given, and there is an expiration date. Golf will continue to be a part of my healthy lifestyle, and a way to connect and build a healthier relationship with my partner.
As it turns out, you should always get some form of exercise every day, even if the weather isn’t ideal. Golfing in extreme heat isn’t for everyone, but I don’t mind it (see photo above). Sweating makes me feel like I am ridding my body of unhealthy toxins.
No Rules To What Type of Exercise… exercise is exercise.
One of my biggest complaints while working as a freelancer was deciding between exercise and working.
Clients often want their work now, and it was really hard to justify spending time working out when you feel like you have to stay up until the early morning every night to get work completed.
Freelancers often sacrifice their health (exercise) during peak client times. I know those feels of no exercise days to work on client projects.
Now, my body comes first. And for those of you who don’t believe they can get exercise in, I beg to differ.
Walk, dance or take an on-line fitness class. Moving is key to a healthy you. For me, having a rower and weights in a dedicated room helps on days I’m restricted on time. I remind myself that I need to put my health first, it’s what I was given, and there is an expiration date. Golf will continue to be a part of my healthy lifestyle, and a way to connect and build a healthier relationship with my partner.
Because your health is important, remember to wear sunscreen throughout the year. Keep an eye out for suspicious moles/marks on your body and have them checked immediately. Fit some form of exercise in every day.
Remind yourself you can be healthy today and in the future.
Putting Your Health First Creates Opportunities for a Longer, Happier Life
In conclusion, what’s encouraging about the three ways of long-lasting health mentioned in the post is that they’re all theoretically possible to work on and improve – not anything that is immovable. And that’s a health secret worth spreading.
Making time for yourself and your health will have long-term, lasting effects. But the amazing thing is that the more confident you become in your health over time, the easier it does come to let a healthy you shine right out of you!
Now is the time to put your health first. Listen to your body – it’s the only one you’ll ever receive. Protect yourself from the harmful rays of the sun. Yes, I love the healthy glow of a ‘tan’ but what lurks underneath could cost you your life. I have learned to embrace my glowing white tan.
1. Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen year round.
2. Exercise daily, even if it is for 5 minutes.
3. Learn a new sport like golf.
Conclusion of Why You Should Put Your Health First
Expanding upon the previous points…
Putting yourself and your health first is a little scary because you want to be of service to others – you don’t want to be selfish.
At least it was for me, and you WILL have nay-sayers trying to bring you down along the way. People in your life will not like your selfishness, and that is okay.
Health and Happiness are achievable, you have to believe you are worthy! You found this post and read all the way to this point. Success, happiness and a life full of all your wildest dreams are within reach – keep going! When life gets tough take a moment to breathe, remind yourself that “this too shall pass…” because it will.
How can I get started?
If you already know what you want to change about your health, you can just start today! Create a healthier you today!
Want more of Susan, you can tune into: –> The Success You Podcast with me, Susan R. Kiley for more inspiration and ways to put yourself first!
If you enjoyed this article or have any questions for me, please leave the in the comment section below!
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