I am not as healthy as I want to be. I am out of shape. I am overweight—I have been all my life. Though my cooking and eating styles have evolved since my youth to be pretty darned healthy, especially compared to an adolescence spent sneaking breaded Tyson chicken patties for after-school snack when my parents weren’t home and covering up the evidence with Lysol sprayed near the microwave, I have a tendency to indulge. And after an autumn spent reveling in the fact that both kids were in school at the same time and using that time to finally get my atrophied legs back pumping some bicycle pedals, I have, ashamedly, fallen back into my natural tendency toward inertia. Yes, I admit to laziness. And I don’t like it. But it’s so hard to change.
So hard to change—and yet, I have all the motivation I need right in front of me, if only I’d gather the wherewithal to harness it. Because as I am reminded on a daily basis, my health is not about me. Okay, yes, it necessarily is about me, but what I mean is this: as a father of two amazing girls, as the partner of a extraordinary woman, as the son of parents who spent their lives caring for me and now spend their lives caring for their own aging parents, I need to live better, stay healthy, for them. Not only as a model for my daughters, but I need to make changes, lasting changes, so that I will continue to be here, physically, mentally, emotionally, at my best, for those I love, for those who need me to be here.
Healthy living. Healthy eating. Exercise. Reflection. Prevention. It’s not just about or for the person doing it.
Today, besides all of the everyday things I need to be doing to be healthier for my family, I’m thinking about cancer. Cancer sucks. My grandfather died from prostate cancer when I was in college. My father has been a survivor of kidney cancer for over a decade. And my mother is a nine-year survivor of breast cancer. Countless stories of mixed-race kids unable to find bone marrow matches to treat their leukemia led me to register as a bone marrow donor years before I became a father, and to collect and store my oldest child’s cord blood when she was born. Every day, I hear my family physician wife talk about patients whose lives were saved because of early detection, because of things like my friend Jim Higley has asked me to talk about, the self-exam for testicular cancer detection. This is just one more small thing we can do for those who need us to keep on being here.