I believe life is best lived from the inside out.
In practical terms, it means prioritizing what you think of yourself over what other people think of you and spending time doing what you want to do, not the things you think other people want you to do.
If you have strong beliefs about who you are and what makes you happy, that foundation can serve as a rudder. It works like this…just like the the rudder on the bottom of a sail boat keeps the boat upright when strong winds might otherwise blow it over, your beliefs about yourself can keep you upright when the winds of life, and other people’s opinions of your life attempt to knock you around.
I know from personal experience and from running workshops with women across the country that a life lived from the inside is life better lived. Except, of course, when your insides are filled with cancer (yes I just said that), which for some insane reason keeps happening to so many people that I know and love.
Cancer is a bitch. And it’s a double bitch when you hear in a single doctor’s appointment that not only do you have cancer; but it’s too late to do anything about it because it’s already spread throughout your entire body.
I mean, WTF?
Why is this happening more and more to the people in my life and very likely the people in your own life? Who in the hell deserves to hear a diagnosis and death sentence with only a semicolon separating the two?
Certainly, not any one of the remarkable people below.
- My friend’s husband who had a headache and was told he had a brain tumor and that he wouldn’t live to see the next week.
- My friend’s wife who had a stomach ache which turned out to be an inoperable tumor the size of a grapefruit on her ovaries.
- My brother’s mentor who went to the doctor for back pain and left with the knowledge that he had cancer throughout his entire body and the phone number to hospice.
- My dear, sweet grandmother whose minor neck pain turned out to be bone cancer in almost every bone in her body.
Each and every one of these remarkable human beings, with full lives and full families, walked into a doctor’s office with a mild ache or pain and left with the knowledge that they’d be dead by the end of the year, month or week.
And there was nothing they could do about it.
No chance to battle it. No chance to stand up to it. No chance to play the popular song, “This Is My Fight Song” on repeat and dance around their living room like my friend Karen was afforded the opportunity to do before she kicked Cancer’s ass.
To be clear, this blog post is not about me. It’s not a pity party for me or my friends. I’m not writing this to elicit sympathy for the love and loss that appears to be practically everywhere.
I’m writing this blog post to save your life – prevent your own pity party from happening.
Showing up to a doctor’s appointment for the first time and being told you have cancer throughout your entire body is a real thing. If it can happen to my friends, then it can happen to you. It could happen this week.
Why would it not? How could it not?
I’ll tell you exactly how it could not. I became mildly paranoid about a diagnosis of this sort two years ago, so I decided to do something about it. I signed up for a new form of medical care that is commonly referred to as “Concierge Medicine”— a proactive form of medical care that begins each year with a robust physical and then that doctor becomes your primary care physician.
Here’s how my particular program has worked for me. I pay $3,300 a year (yes, $3,300) and I get the most thorough physical known to man – stress test, cancer screenings, vascular disease screenings (vascular disease causes more deaths each year than cancer), an ultrasound of every major organ, melanoma imaging, etc. You name it; they do it. And they do it all in less than three hours. #forreal
Several days after the physical exam, I get two things that I have never received before with any medical care. The first perk is a 90-minute meeting with my doctor in his office to go over every single result, any changes I should make in my life and the opportunity to ask 652 questions if I so desire.
The second benefit is immediate access to this incredible man 24-hours a day, seven days a week via a phone call or text message. That’s right, the one man on the planet who literally knows me inside and out is on call for me every hour of the day. This last benefit alone has saved me dozens of trips to the doctor, missed work and unnecessary paranoia.
Take, for example, this exchange:
Me: Hey, doc, I have a rash on my chin. See pic. It’s disgusting. Please help.
Doc: It’s Peri Oral Dermatitis. I’ll call you in a prescription.
Or this one:
Me: Hey, doc, my son sliced his foot pretty badly. See pic. Does he need stitches?
Doc: Yes, he does.
It’s literally a one-stop medical shop that’s open 24-hours a day – whether you’re worried about developing pre-cancer cells or acne.
I love this revolutionary form of medical care because it looks at your body, the vessel that carries your soul around and lays down next to your loved ones, from the inside out. It provides you with something that’s worth more than gold, in my opinion; it provides peace of mind.
Peace of mind, from the inside out.
Each year after my physical exam, I breathe a lot easier. I’m confident that my aches and pains from getting older are not, in fact, going to kill me. I’m confident that barring a tragic accident, I’m going to live another year in this body and on this earth.
Is $3,000 a lot of money to spend on medical care? Yes, indeed. Do I have $3,000 sitting around ready to drop on something like this? Of course not. Do all concierge medical practices cost this much? I have no idea.
Here’s what I do know: I love my life.
I finally figured out how to navigate this life and actually be happy with it…and I don’t want it to be ripped away from me on a Wednesday afternoon when I go to the doctor because of a stomach ache.
It happens, people. It’s real.
I’m willing to set aside money each month to make this happen. We all save money for retirement, why not save money for proactive healthcare? I’d even be prepared to replace a big family vacation with a low-key staycation if that’s what it takes to make sure I’m alive at the end of it. I’ll do whatever it takes to prevent me from writing an article in The New York Times like this one where Amy Krouse Rosenthal, a wife and mother of three, is trying to find her amazing husband, and soon to be widower, a new wife.
If I’m going to get cancer one day, I want a chance to fight. If I lose, then I lose, but I want the opportunity to at least try to win.
No goddamn sneak attack.
Five years ago, I got clear about who I am as a human being, and I stopped living my life for other people. In other words, I started living my life from the inside out – from an emotional standpoint. And now, I’m doing the same from a physical standpoint. So, I can safely say that I know what’s going on inside of me from every angle.
And I like it that way.
When people we love die, it sucks. The only silver lining is that it’s the ultimate wake up call. It reminds the rest of us that we’re still alive.
Let’s stay that way.