How you can save a life; two things to know this month

It seems every month, week, and day there is an event for awareness of some condition, disease, disability or other designated group. I can’t keep track of all of them, much less observe them all, but September is designated for awareness of two conditions that I want to mention.

Childhood cancer is ,fortunately, an uncommon disease compared to other conditions but still ranks within the top 5 causes of death in children and adolescents. Because so relatively few cases occur, there has not been as much research done and therefore not as many drugs or treatments available as other diseases.

One of the first patients I cared for when I started practicing over 30 years ago was a 5 year old boy who developed a brain tumor. With treatment he lived about a year following diagnosis, leaving his parents and siblings devastated. I am sad  to realize that he would now be a young man, probably with children of his own.

About 6 weeks ago,  my friend’s 13 year old son  was diagnosed with a form of leukemia. Both she and her husband are physicians so they are familiar with the seriousness of his illness, as well as the potential risks of the treatment. But they are fighting the disease with the best medical care available, as well as  many people’s prayers,and are hopeful for a full recovery.

Even When I’m Gone is a song written and recorded about Kendall, a 17 year old girl who died from leukemia. She dreamed of sharing the story of her struggle and helping others also afflicted. ( this is an affiliate link from which this blog can earn a commission from purchases)

September is also recognized as Suicide Prevention Month.

Leading causes of death in the United States by age, most recent statistics
As the chart illustrates, suicide ranks within the top ten causes of death for everyone except the youngest and the oldest of us. And like other forms of violence, suicide should be preventable.

The Veteran’s Administration has made the prevention of veteran suicide a priority. It is a tragedy that any person would cause their own death. And it is hard to understand how someone who has survived the rigors of military training and service would later want to take their own life.

My husband, a VietNam veteran, recently reached out to a young veteran whose family is concerned. While serving in Afghanistan, this soldier’s team was ambushed; one soldier was blown apart by an IED (improvised explosive device). The veteran finds it hard to talk about what happened, and has become withdrawn. My husband shared his traumatic experience in VietNam and encouraged the ex-soldier to find someone to talk to and process the feelings about what happened. And we are praying for peace and healing also.

If you know a veteran, follow this link to learn how you can recognize behavior that might lead to suicide and how you can help.

If you are a veteran, I thank you for serving our country and urge you to receive the help that you gave us; call the crisis line at 1-800-272-8255, press 1 .

Contact the veterans' crisis line for help.
Contact the veterans’ crisis line for help.
This is a short post so I encourage you to visit the links which have information worth your time. And please share what you learn on your blogs, social media and email. Let’s all be “aware”- you may save a life.

Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

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