I cannot believe it, but summer is almost over. For those of us who teach, or even those of us who have kids in school at whatever level, late August and early September are essentially the beginning of a new year. I try to think of Sept. 1 as my actual new year. September is a great time to reassess whatever goals I may have set in January and somehow forgotten or ignored over the past nine months. I also use this time for mental and physical maintenance.
A few weeks ago, I reminded my female readers of a certain age to be sure to get mammograms at age 40. I do hope my healthy male readers remember that they should be getting regular prostate checks at the age of 40 for African-Americans (and 50 for other racial groups). Colonoscopies, checking of the colon, for African-American men and women should begin at the age of 45. These routine checks and preventative measures can hopefully prevent life-threatening cancers that often go undetected until it’s too late. What better time to jump start your health care than at the start of the new year? If you missed your January goal, you can always use September as your new year.
Late September and early October are a great time to schedule annual checkups. I have found this time of year is less busy than the start of the new year because many people realize they should accomplish these important tasks in January. I use September as a time to swing by and visit my various doctors. I start with the dentist to get a routine cleaning and a cavities checkup. Unfortunately, I did not floss regularly and ate lots of delicious candy as a child, so I am dealing with certain repercussions of those choices.
I head to the optometrist next. I read constantly and need to make sure my eyeglass prescription is still up to date and effective. I also spend significant time in front of a computer screen, so my optometrist checks the effects of the strain on my eyes.
I then go to my OB/GYN and general practitioner, who perform standard physicals and check my vitals: cholesterol, blood work, blood pressure, etc.
Last but not least, I go to my dermatologist, who checks for new moles and any abnormalities with my skin. My dermatologist reminds me to spread the word that Black skin can and does get cancer. Keep in mind, Black skin cannot beat the sun, ever! We may not burn as easily as others, but remember the core of the sun can reach higher than 27 million degrees! Translation: wear sunblock.
Not everyone has insurance, but many clinics perform one or most of these services for a small fee or for free. Your City Council member or borough president can assist you and your family members in finding these places. So happy new year, get the tuneup you deserve.
Christina Greer, PhD, is a tenured professor at Fordham University and the author of “Black Ethnics: Race, Immigration, and the Pursuit of the American Dream.” You can find her on Twitter @Dr_CMGreer.