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It’s past 1 o’clock in the morning and I’m up. This week has been a very tough one, culminating in the death of my uncle just a few hours ago. People react to death very differently and my reaction even baffles me. Hearing of my uncle’s death has me thinking that it’s all about my body.

My uncle had a heart of gold. He cared deeply about people and would give a stranger the shirt off his back. A guy like that you’d probably want to keep around for a while on the world’s stage. Even so, he’s gone and that before the age of 60. His health declined rapidly in the last few years and like all of us, he had some habits that were not the most helpful. As I sit here tonight, my concerns about health have become exaggerated. More than one family member in my recent past died of cancer. More than one family member has died with cirrhosis of the liver (all very heavy drinkers). Honestly, I don’t want that to be the end of my chapter. I’ve been called a health nut and in this moment, I think I may become even nuttier.

I don’t drink, don’t smoke and I have a tendency to eat things that I don’t even enjoy, purely because they’re healthy. I’m generally a gym rat until unusual life disruptions occur and yes, I plan to live this way until death. Why? At the end of the day, we are only given one body. Truth is, if we mess that one up there are no replacements. Indeed, this has been my observation as I’ve seen family members transition to the grave much sooner than need be. It frightens me if I’m to be completely transparent. Knowing my family history, am I to understand that these things can be prevented by good nutrition and exercise or are these simply foreshadows of a fate inevitable?

These are questions that no one can answer with full assurance. I do, however, suspect that I can do some things to give myself a better chance in all this. I reason that I can most likely avoid cirrhosis of the liver by not drinking. I’m not entirely sure that, in our poisoned world, cancer is completely unavoidable. Even so, I’ll continue to obsessively drink green tea for its antioxidants with the hope that perhaps it just might help me in that fight. No, I don’t actually live my life in a constant state of paranoia or terror. I do choose, however, to live my life today with the thought of tomorrow. It’s all about my body.

2 comments

N'Digo

We give priority to taking care of other people and things more than to taking care of ourselves. We make sure to change the oil in our car every so often, get a tune up, and so on. If the car breaks down, we can always get another car. Yet we only have 1 body in this lifetime.

People often ask me why I do the things I do to maintain optimal health (physical activity, juicing, vitamins, vegetarian diet, etc.) They believe it is not necessary and that "we're all gonna die in the end", to which I say "The quality of my life affects the length."

African Americans are leading the statistics in a number of illnesses and diseases, many which are lifestyle-related (read: diet and physical activity). Cancer, cardiovasuclar disease, and diabetes are a "norm" for us. But the most empowering fact that I have learned about most of these illnesses, is that we can choose NOT to be afflicted by them. Again–lifestyle is more of a determinant to your health than genetics.

Simply put, we need to care about our bodies. Put the extra time and care into it as any "thing" we treasure. Yes, exercising can be uncomfortable. Yes, eating greens and fruits may not stimulate your tastebuds as pizza. But you can retrain your mind and body to appreciate and WANT those things, and your body will reward you for it. Diabetes and cancer do not have to be your death sentence. But you have to make that choice.

My condolences go out to you and your family in the transition of your uncle. In this time of grief, I hope that it becomes an impetus for everyone to examine themselves, just as you are. We were created to live far longer than we have been. Your entry has motivated me even more in my own pursuit of a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Much love to you.

D.M Hopewell

Now you know I love you to pieces, right?

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