Personal Responsibility

I just started reading a book titled “The Accidental Asian,” by Eric Liu, a former speechwriter for President Clinton. The first few chapters, dedicated to his late father, described poignant memories he carries with him. One memory was particularly captivating. Liu described his late father’s bout with kidney failure and their family’s struggle to keep the illness private, as requested by his father to “save face” and to ensure that he wasn’t treated differently for being sick. I immediately started to reflect on my own life and imagined myself in that situation. Would I be honest to friends and family about my illness? Would I be open to receiving help and increased attention from friends and family? Would I downplay my illness and act as if nothing was wrong?

I feel that Liu’s father had a natural response to his illness. Regardless of being raised in a culture that values pride and privacy, it seems natural to respond in such a manner. From a biological perspective, it’s survival of the fittest and the weak are distinguished from the strong. However, we live in the 21st century. As a society, we have evolved to think in a rational manner. We have access to education and can make informed, rational decisions. We have the ability to communicate our needs as well as the ability to find the necessary resources to restore our health and well-being. It is our personal responsibility to take our health into our own hands. A couple of ideas to get you started:

  • Assess your health status by obtaining a thorough physical examination or participating in health screenings available in your community.
  • Educate yourself on the risk factors for diseases such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes and others to become aware of potential problems.
  • Set achievable health goals in areas you want to change (i.e. lifestyle changes including diet and exercise, stress management, etc.).
  • Ask for help!

Imagine yourself in 5 to 10 years…wouldn’t you want to be healthy?

Ramon P. Llamas, MPH, CHES

View posts by Ramon P. Llamas, MPH, CHES
Ramon holds a Masters in Public Health degree with an emphasis on health promotion and health education from the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine and a BS in biological sciences and biomedical engineering from the University of California, Irvine. He is a member of the Men's Health Caucus of the American Public Health Association. His background includes health promotion at the US DHHS in Washington, DC and Director of Programs for Men's Health Network.
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