Tuesday, May 14, 2013

You Don't Have to be Angelina to Take Charge of Your Health

In movies, Angelina Jolie is pretty bad ass...

Lara Croft film.jpg

In real life, Angelina Jolie is pretty bad ass...

Angelina Jolie

When it comes to taking control of her own health, Angelina Jolie is pretty bad ass...

My Medical Choice - NY Times Op Ed

In fact, if there are any doubts of how bad ass Angelina is, they went out the window after reading her piece in the NY Times.  While not the first woman to take these steps, she used her celebrity to amplify this conversation on technology, testing, medical decisions, research and funding.  Many are cheering her honesty and advocacy on this very important issue.  Many are dismissing her courage by pointing out her wealth, support, and the luxury they perceive she had in making this decision.  And many will tell you their thoughts on both sides. 

What I'm here to to tell you is simple.  You don't have to be Angelina Jolie to take charge of your health.  You don't need a fancy place called Pink Lotus to treat your body, you don't need to be able to hire staff, and you don't need Brad Pitt, even though that would be nice...

 You can be just as bad ass, if not more bad ass, as the Tomb Raider herself.  Women are making these courageous decisions every day in all areas of their health.  You don't have to be Angelina Jolie, but you can follow her lead.

Steps to Courageously Taking Charge of Your Health

1.  Get Healthy - exercise, eat, and sleep well.  Yes, it is a daily challenge - rise to it. Angelina claims to not exercise or work out.  So we mere mortals will have to figure this out ourselves.

2.  Know Your Family History - have those tough discussions with your family members.  Write it down and share it with the ones you love (and even the ones you are iffy on).  Find out the type of illnesses, the age of diagnosis, the symptoms and the results. Breast cancer, for example, has 14 different types listed on  Breastcancer.org Do your best to find out the most specific information.  Angelina used her knowledge of her mother's cancer to inform her decision.

Angelina Jolie's Double Mastectomy Inspired By Death of Her Mother

3.  Know Your Body - know what is normal for you when it comes to your menstrual cycle, gastrointestinal issues, heart rate, blood pressure, headaches, sleep patterns, etc.  They are all more connected than we can understand.  Know what is normal so that you can fight for yourself when something feels "off". And if necessary, label the parts...

Angelina Jolie back tattoo

4.  Get a Doctor You Trust and Inform THEM - find a doctor you can talk to, feel comfortable with and that listens to you.   If you don't have a doctor you feel comfortable with, find one.  Ask your family and friends for help.  We often think of doctors appointments as a time to get information, not give it.  If you've followed the steps listed above you are the expert on your health, your history, and your body.  Educate your health care professional.  The more information he or she has the better advice they can give and the stronger they can advocate for you to get certain tests and preventative measures covered by insurance.   Go beyond the borders and really work with your doctor.

Beyond Borders (2003) Poster

5.  Stay Informed About Your Health Risks - once you've identified any risks in your history, stay up to date on that field.  There are a lot of websites and publications out there, search out the best.  If you need help finding valid information, ask your healthcare professional (but please don't use the internet to self diagnose!).  It's not a crime to be curious....

Hackers (1995) Poster

6.  Reach Out to a Support Network - foster relationships in  your family, your community and your friends.  Start a monthly girls night, an annual family reunion, or volunteer in the community.  This will help you build the strong relationships and support networks that are vital to living a healthy life and getting through difficult situations.  Get involved with causes that line up with your family history, both in honor of your loved ones and in order to keep up with the latest news.  Whether its your partner, your best friend, your co-workers, or your neighbors, find people you can take on the world with...

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005) Poster

7.  Believe in Yourself - you are strong enough, brave enough, smart enough, and courageous enough to tackle anything.  A quick review of your life will most likely show times you've risen to the occasion, survived tremendous adversity, succeed against all odds.  As trite as it sounds, knowledge is power.  Learn. Believe.  Fight. You have a mighty heart...

A Mighty Heart (2007) Poster

Sure, Angelina Jolie is pretty bass but the truth is, so are you.


 Disclaimer - I am not a doctor or health care professional and this is not medical advice.  I am a survivor, an advocate, and a believer in the strength of the human spirit.  If you know me in real life, you know I probably haven't seen half of the A.J. movies but am totally obsessed with Wonder Woman. 

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