Every February, individuals are invited to turn their attention to a very important cause: personal health. The second month of the year is National Cancer Prevention Month and activists and healthcare providers all work diligently to spread the word on simple ways that people can lower their risk of a cancer diagnosis.
According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, there are several ways that people can enhance their personal health and lessen their risk of becoming cancer patients. But for those looking to support National Cancer Prevention Month in a different way, here are a few suggestions that can get you started:
- Learn your risk factors. When it comes to protecting your own health, the best weapon you can have is information. Do some research and homework to find out what your personal risk factors are so that you are aware of them when making choices about your health. Regardless of whether you research information on prostate cancer, colon cancer or breast cancer, awareness of the risk factors is the first step in knowing where you stand for prevention.
- Schedule a doctor’s appointment. Most people wait until there’s something wrong to call their doctor. Get proactive about your health and schedule an appointment. Talk about your risk factors that you’ve researched, what changes need to be made (in order of priority) and strategies you can take to make those changes. Be sure to leave with some action items and a follow up plan to keep up with the momentum.
- Introduce one new healthy habit. When people get involved in working on their personal health, all the changes they “should” make can overwhelm them to the point where they won’t even try or they try to change everything at once and get burned out by the effort. Start small. Pick one new healthy habit and work it into your everyday life. Maybe you’ll start with drinking 8 glasses of water a day. Perhaps you’ll work to include 30 minutes of exercise into your schedule 4 days a week. Wherever you start, keep it small. Once you’ve mastered that new habit, start a new one. Pretty soon you’ll be well on your way to hitting all your health goals.
- Bring a friend. Maybe you don’t need to actually bring a friend to your doctor’s appointment but at least tell someone you know what you’re up to so that they’ll be inspired to schedule their own appointment or do their own homework. Passing on the gift of proactive healthcare has never hurt anyone and can only bring good things to all those involved.
There are so many other things that people can do to support National Cancer Prevention month including volunteering at a cancer awareness fundraiser or event or donating to a cause that is important to you. But the best place that anyone can start is at home. When you have your personal health at the forefront of your mind, you’re more likely to be in a position to help others down the road.