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More than breasts, bones, and babies

POSTED May 8, 2012 12:00 p.m.

I spent two hours the other day standing in front of the greeting card display at my local grocery store trying in vain to pick out the perfect Mother’s Day card for my mom.

Mother’s Day is the one day in the year that I take the time to express just how much I love, appreciate and admire the woman who put up with me for over three decades. I finally realized that no greeting card ever created was going to accomplish this task.

So I started thinking about what I could give to my mom that would let her know how much she means to me. A spa day? Jewelry? A trip to the ocean? Or maybe I should go junior high style and knit her a scarf? I just couldn’t think of anything that would come close to expressing my feelings.

Then I attended a luncheon hosted by Emanuel Medical Center announcing its affiliation with the Spirit of Women Hospital Network. Spirit of Women is a national organization that is committed to making good healthcare easier and to help women and their families take action that results in better health.

At this event I learned that women are more than just breasts, bones, and babies — and our healthcare should reflect that.

I learned that while women make nearly 85 percent of all healthcare decisions for their families, only one-half of them would call 9-1-1 if they thought they were having a heart attack, and according to a 2009 American Heart Association survey, few were aware of the most common heart attack symptoms in women.

I learned that because of a 1950s National Institutes of Health recommendation, women were not included in clinical research studies until the 1980s when the NIH finally said, yes, women should be included. Women still were not being represented proportionately in research, however, so in 1993 Congress had to make it into public law.

Besides the national statistics and policies, many of the women who attended this luncheon admitted to putting their own healthcare needs after everyone else’s in their family, and at times, putting it off entirely.

As part of being a Spirit of Women affiliate, Emanuel will launch education programs and wellness events, and stimulate a community discourse on women’s health. Part of that includes making taboo health topics — like bladder control problems — easier to talk about by presenting them in fun, and unique ways.

After this luncheon, I was not only excited about the coming public health campaigns and the positive effects it is sure to have on the overall health of the community, but I also found the perfect Mother’s Day gift for my mom — a healthy education.

I will drag my mom to every women’s health education event that Emanuel offers. I will help her create a wellness plan and make sure she is getting the care she needs. I will not let my mom fall through the cracks in the healthcare system, and encourage her to make healthy living a priority in her life.

I love my mom and I want to give her the gift of health. (Don’t worry, mom, I also plan on giving you a card and a spa gift certificate!)

 

This column is the opinion of Kristina Hacker, Journal editor, and does not necessarily represent the opinion of the Turlock Journal or Morris Newspaper Corp. of CA.  She can be reached at khacker@turlockjournal.com.

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