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Right around the time I began working on this year’s issue of 5280 Health, my mom was diagnosed with invasive breast cancer. Her annual mammogram had done its job, and suddenly, we were sitting in my living room on a bright winter day, holding hands and realizing that we now belonged to a club no one wants to join.
Membership has its responsibilities, so I leaned in and learned: types of breast cancer, stages and grades of tumors, the links between chemo cocktails and nasty side effects, the upshot and downsides of radiation. I learned how it feels to shave my own mother’s head and what it takes to make small talk in a hospital waiting room with my dad.
But as it often goes in the midst of difficult times, I gained some perspective too. I realized that pursuing health often means simply taking the next step forward. Just like my mom couldn’t beat cancer in a week, none of us can ski down Winter Park’s Mary Jane mogul runs the first day we strap on sticks or run a marathon the day after our first jog around Wash Park. Achieving and maintaining health takes one-day-at-a-time persistence; it’s about choosing the path to wholeness and walking that path with diligence—and, sometimes, a big gulp of courage.
This issue of 5280 Health offers inspiration and practical tips for each of us who are committed to taking the next steps toward healthier lives: In “Mind Matters,” we look into a study that suggests thinking of yourself as fit can actually make you fitter—and then we give you a few local ideas for boosting your psyche and your physique. We sit down with Ellen Miller, who—at age 54—became the first American woman to complete the Everest trilogy; she shares her tips for aging well in “Shooting From The Hips.” And in our cover story, “Take It Personally,” we explore how what doctors are learning about DNA is changing the ways they treat their patients—and how it might alter the future of medicine.
Some of those cutting-edge treatments saved my mom’s life. Today, she’s cancer-free and relishing life again as a doting grandma, amateur film critic, and preparer of all my favorite recipes. And while it’s a bit unconventional to dedicate a magazine to someone, this issue is for her—and for any of you who are looking at a rocky road ahead. I hope you’ll grab someone’s hand and take the first step forward. I’m rooting for you.