Good health is something we all wish for, but sometimes take for granted. Our health can change quickly with an unexpected diagnosis or a tragic accident. We cannot control everything that may affect our health, such as diseases that we are born with or certain toxins in our environment, but we can take preventative measures to lower our risks for some conditions.
I have been fortunate to enjoy good health for most of my life. I was born strong and healthy and was very active as a child – always dancing and tumbling. I was a kid who did cartwheels and handstands all the time; I couldn’t stay still. I played outdoors often with my sister and friends in our Poplar Grove neighborhood – riding bikes, rollerskating, climbing trees and playing backyard games.
I was born into an active family – one that enjoyed camping, sports and exercise. We skied, swam, played basketball, baseball and golf for fun. As a teen, I swam competitively.
In my early 20s, I backpacked often and got into rock climbing, and I was still swimming for exercise. I worked as a swimming instructor and coach. Between the ages of 22 – 32, I gave birth to three boys, who kept me very active when they were young.
But when I hit my 40s, I started to slow down and lead a much more sedentary life. Both of my jobs now involve sitting for prolonged periods of time.
My body has started feeling the effects of age and overuse; I have issues with my knees, and the muscles in my back and neck. I believe that most of it is due to stress and lifestyle choices, but these issues are minor and treatable. I can control this.
It’s the stuff I can’t control that bites.
About nine months ago, I was diagnosed with breast cancer after I went in for a routine mammogram. I was shocked and frightened, especially since I had lost both my brother and mother to cancer within the last decade.
Fortunately, this cancer was detected very early and was treated with surgery (two lumpectomies), radiation and ongoing hormone-blocking therapy. I am very grateful that I have health insurance, and for the expertise of my doctors at the Huntsman Cancer Institute. I am privileged to have access to good health care.
The experts don’t know why I got this cancer – I am fairly young, not obese, breast-fed my babies, don’t smoke, only drink moderately, and genetic testing showed that I do not have the seven known genetic mutations associated with this type of cancer. My diagnosis was inexplicable.
But, one thing this cancer did for me was made me realize how precious life and good health is. It made me think about what matters most in my life – relationships with my loved ones, striving for balance in my life, and making the most of every day.
Through the Huntsman Cancer Wellness Center, I made goals to get regular exercise – 30 minutes of some type of cardio most days, and resistance training twice a week – and to be conscious of my nutrition. I was also advised to eat more of a plant-based diet, and to limit my alcohol intake to less than one alcoholic beverage per day to help prevent the chances of recurrence.
I try not to skip meals, and have to remind myself that I can’t just get through the day on coffee fumes! I have begun swimming and hiking again, and make time for jogging or walking briskly on the Jordan River Parkway Trail. I also try to commute by bike more often.
Staying active and eating healthier may or may not prevent my cancer from recurring, but it does help my body feel better, reduces my stress and improves my mental state.
In this Health & Wellness issue, we have included stories about physical, mental, spiritual and even financial health. Our volunteer contributors wrote about topics that they feel are important or have experience with. A pediatrician wrote about the negative health effects of “toxic stress” exposure in children. A woman wrote about how a local gym helps people in their struggle to stay sober. Another woman shared her personal story of healing from a horrible car accident.
Thank you to all of our contributing writers and photographers and the many volunteers who help out in various ways – doing copy editing, distributing papers, maintaining our website, serving on our board, helping us fundraise, etc. This is truly a collaborative community effort, and The West View would not exist without it.
And, last but not least, I want to give a huge shout out to the local businesses, organizations, and individuals who purchase ad space or donate financially to our community paper. It is you, who sustain us.
We hope that this issue will inspire or help you improve your health or the health of your loved ones in some way. ¡Salud! To your health!