When my family gathers for the holidays, there is plenty of food and plenty of talk. (I can’t tell you how many times I have heard the same stories throughout the years.) The stories relatives tell are usually memories of the “good ole days” when they were younger and they are full of holiday cheer. But this holiday season, I’m going to ask you to do something a little different. I am challenging myself – and you -, as we all gather, that we ask our family members to share their medical histories.
Why? Because knowing such information could save a life. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, mothers and fathers want to protect us, but they can’t protect us from genetics or risk factors and the more we know about those, the more we can protect ourselves from cancer, heart disease and more. If a doctor knows that our mother’s side has a history of breast cancer, they might start testing us earlier and catch a lump before it gets serious. If there’s a family history of high blood pressure, they could start monitoring that more often.
Talking about your family’s medical history can’t be scary, sad, or uncomfortable because we fear the words we have to speak or hear. Ever since I was seven, my dad has had ongoing health issues. Fortunately, once my brother and I were old enough to understand, my parents were very transparent about his health and I believe because he was always going to doctors, I always asked if medical issues ran in the family. However, if no one in your family has been ill, medical histories may never be brought up because it seems unnecessary or embarrassing. We need to stop this thinking and start sharing!
The gift of talking and sharing is a great gift.. Save a life and share your story. I promise your loved ones will thank you.