Thursday, September 24, 2009

Another Season of Change

It’s fall. The autumnal equinox, to be a little more specific. It’s occurring today (Tuesday), as I write this column. It’s an interesting time of year, as school children struggle to balance eggs and brooms, and we experience an unsettled stretch of weather to replace the idyllic, sun-drenched days of early September.
It’s a season of change, but the weather isn’t the only thing I’m watching.
I’m not always much of a current events kind of guy, I guess. Given the choice between watching “Meet the Press” and a rerun of the third game of the Little League World Series, I’ll pick the kids every time. But there’s something going on--something that absolutely needs to change--that has got me more than a little interested.
It’s called healthcare.
It’s an issue that was, I think, well-stated in a simple statement that was going around on Facebook awhile back. It went like this:
“No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should go broke because they get sick.”
I agree.
That’s a pretty simple way to express a complex issue, I know. But I can’t help that think most of those who oppose universal healthcare are doing so for the wrong reasons. And while there is bound to be some disagreement as to how healthcare reform should be be accomplished, I, for one, think a Medicaid-style program could work just fine, just as the current program works for many Americans who are over 65 or disabled. While I can generally see both sides in most issues, how can you argue with the fact that all the citizens of the greatest country on earth have a right to a shot at good, affordable healthcare?
I was doing a little websurfing on the issue the other day and happened upon this chilling statistic:
A 2008 study showed there were 101,000 deaths in the United States that could have been prevented by access to timely and effective health care.
The researchers, who were from the London School of Medicine, included deaths before age 75 from causes like heart disease, stroke, certain cancers, diabetes, some bacterial infections and complications of common surgical procedures.
Now, in a day and time when we’re constantly bombarded with mega-statistics, I realize 101,000 might, amazingly enough,, seem like a smallish number. So think of it this way. Would you think universal access to effective healthcare was important if every man, woman and child in Henry, Stark, Bureau and Marshall Counties died next year?
Same thing. Think about it.
It’s time for a change.
Speaking of health, September is Prostate Cancer Awareness month. So, once again, let me deliver a simple message: PSA.
Thanks to the PSA test, prostate cancer is being detected and treated earlier than ever before. The earlier it’s detected, the more easily it can be treated.
Us TOO International Prostate Cancer Education & Support Network recommends that men have annual prostate examinations starting at the following ages:
-By age 40 if you are an African American man, or have a family history of prostate cancer (either are considered high-risk.)
-No later than age 45 for all other men. I, for one, would suggest starting even younger, especially if you are in the high-risk category.
But in any case, just remember, a PSA is a simple, once-a-year blood test that can save your life. And if “save your life” is a little too dramatic, consider this: Early detection of prostate cancer can give you a much wider range of treatment options and help you avoid a whole host of side effects that--believe me--you don’t want to experience.
Do it for yourself. Do it for the ones you love.
Do it.

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