News and Tribune


November 15, 2013

NASH: Your own health care awareness

— Last month it seemed like everywhere you looked you saw pink. Some retail stores had entire sections of pink items that you could purchase. The place I noticed it the most was during NFL games, probably because pink stands out on a football field. All of this pink was to highlight Breast Cancer Awareness month during October.  

 A few weeks ago I decided to shave my chin whiskers and left only a mustache. Some people asked me if it was for “Movember” — a combination of the word mustache and November — which has become a “thing” over the last few years. Men are  encouraged to grow out their facial hair for the month to bring awareness of men’s health issues. The goal of “Movember” is to “change the face of men’s health.”

 I don’t know anybody personally that grows a mustache just for the month of November.   Wearing facial hair for much of the year myself makes it weird to just grow a mustache for one month. I know a couple of guys that start growing facial hair in October, but that has to do with hunting season.

I didn’t officially shave my beard for “Movember“ but it was for a health concern. I had a dermatology appointment for an issue that pops up on my face occasionally and it was easier to treat shaven. I also had to have a mole looked at and it was easier to get to without my usual facial hair. Now that everything is under control I have let the beard return and I no longer look like a cross between Tom Selleck and “My Name is Earl.”  

The mole was removed and it turned out that it was something that probably shouldn’t have been left on my face. Normally something like that I would have just let go, but in recent years I have been more concerned about things like that. In 2013 I have logged more hours in doctor’s offices than any other year I can remember.

Much of the time I have spent has been in doctor’s offices to help keep possible long term issues in check. Fighting years of less than healthy living could start to take their toll on my body if I don’t become more proactive. In recent years I have started to become more aware of my mortality and have noticed my body’s inability to rebound as fast as it once could.

Of course I have also spent a considerable amount of time in the offices of my wife’s OB/Gyn during her pregnancy. I have put extra effort in during her pregnancy since it is her first and she is having twins. I figured it is the least I could do since I got her into this.

Awareness months, while bringing attention to important topics, seem to get out of control and miss the point sometimes. Both men and woman should be knowledgeable about their health concerns and seek treatment when an issue arises. Waiting for a certain month to acknowledge a problem could be the difference between life and death.

There are also too many causes and not enough months in the year.  Who decides which months and which foundations are worthy of our time and get their own color and ribbons?

Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall was fined $10,500 for wearing green shoes in a game last month. He was making his own statement and raising awareness of mental health issues. Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder in 2011. He matched the fine with another donation to a charity, and said it was worth it for the attention his uniform decision received. The NFL looks a little petty for fining someone for the color of their shoes when it doesn’t know the player’s agenda or statement.

When it comes to your own health care needs you must do what is best for you when the time is right. You shouldn’t wait until that month when everyone is “aware” of the issue that concerns you. Regular annual exams and follow-ups are the best way to keep your health in check.  

I suggest the month of your birthday or pick a month that has significance to you. Regular health screenings are important and will help in early diagnosis of many ailments that are easily treated if found in time.  

With the rollout of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act many things will be covered that weren’t always before. It is up to you to take advantage of the tools that are now available in order to live a longer and healthier and ultimately a happier life.

— Matthew Nash can be reached at

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