Hearing stories like Snickollet’s makes everyone—including me—nervous. What if what happened to her husband happens to me? we ask. And then: How can I make sure that doesn’t happen to me?
The short answer is, you can’t. When someone comes come to me and says “I want to be tested for everything,” I try to explain that most dread diseases can’t be “caught early” and that it’s actually dangerous to be tested for things you’re not at high risk for, but I know that this isn’t reassuring.
The truth is scary. The truth is that any of us, no matter how healthy our lifestyle, can be struck down by something awful at any time. Most of us won’t, but there are no guarantees.
There are really only two things you can do to vastly increase your chances of living a long and healthy life, and neither of them is something that I can order a test or write a prescription for. Nor will they make the cover of any magazine. They are:
1. Don’t smoke
2. ALWAYS buckle your seatbelt.
I’m not saying that you shouldn’t exercise, eat healthfully, wear sunscreen, get a Pap smear, or be checked for high blood pressure. But honestly, worrying about any of those things when you haven’t taken care of the first two is like worrying about whether your underwear is clean while you’re stepping in front of a bus. (As for worrying about any of the latest health fads—don’t get me started.)
My advice? Do what you can to keep yourself safe and whole; do your best not to fret about what can’t be foreseen or prevented; and savor your time on this earth.