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Most people know October is breast cancer awareness month around the world. Fewer may know it is also observed worldwide as sudden infant death syndrome and Rett syndrome awareness month.
In the United States, October is healthy lung month, Down syndrome awareness month, liver awareness month, national spina bifida awareness month and national orthodontic health month, too. To the north, Canada is observing October as autism awareness month, and across the pond, the United Kingdom is observing October as lupus awareness month.
It should not take the designation of a single month devoted to a specific malady, however, for us to be cognizant of and responsible for our own health every day.
Every person who is capable of functioning as an independent adult should know his or her body well enough to know when something is obviously wrong with it.
We do not advocate hypochondria. We do support seeing a doctor about a nagging cough that will not go away, or when an unexplained pain lingers for reasons unknown. Maybe it is something that only calls for an over-the-counter decongestant or RICE (rest, ice, compression and elevation), but it is best to find out for certain. If it turns out to be something more serious, early detection will be crucial to treatment or cure.
So much of human health maintenance depends on prevention, and the combination of eating right and exercise has proven time and again to be the best formula for achieving that goal.
Pre-existing conditions, like Crohn’s disease and sickle cell disorder, are not the barriers to physical fitness they once were, either. Early diagnosis of these ailments, like all others, is key to keeping healthy.
Sometimes there is no explanation for who gets sick or why. Heart disease and cancer are among those that can strike people down with little to no warning. Increased awareness seeks to prevent that from happening whenever and wherever possible.
If seeing pink everywhere all month will remind women (and men) to perform routine self-examinations, we think it is worth it.
If walk-a-thons help raise money for research toward improved treatment — or, better yet, cures — for life-limiting health conditions, we think it is worth it.
If education campaigns help relatively healthy people understand what life is like for people who live with physical handicaps, we think it is worth it.
Awareness may be overwhelming this month, but it can improve and save lives. That is worth it.