Health is the (only) REAL wealth

Jun 28, 2023 | Blog | 0 comments

During a recent workshop, someone asked: “If a loved one is diagnosed with a medical condition for which new (proven) ground-breaking treatment is available in another country, would you willingly give up your life’s savings for your loved one to undergo the treatment?” Not a single person in the room answered “no” to this question… Recently, South Africans followed the journeys of radio personalities Jeremy Mansfield and Mark Pilgrim as they battled cancer. Then, famous South African rugby coach Jake White was rushed to hospital for emergency surgery before just a few weeks ago, news broke of the passing of political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, at only 44, after a suspected epileptic seizure. Shortly thereafter Derek Watts, popular TV anchor of Carte Blanche since its inception in 1988, was rushed to hospital for severe sepsis after he had collapsed during a family trip to Hoedspruit. While he recovered, he recently confirmed a cancer diagnosis, and that he would be taking a break from work to focus on his health. While mine wasn’t a celebrity experience, I lost a dear friend to (male) breast cancer in December 2021. A pensioner who could be a scrooge at times, he had access to good medical care as a military veteran. Yet, he chose to pay an oncologist in private practice, which cost him dearly. He then cancelled his life insurance policy. Did he know it was close to the end? The question remains unanswered, but this too shows that when someone realises that their health is failing, sometimes money is not an option. Indeed, health is the only REAL wealth, and we tend to underestimate its value, sometimes until it is too late. Because no matter how much one has saved for retirement, the value of one’s investments (locally or offshore) and savings, and the (financial) legacy one wants to leave one’s loved ones, it all starts (and ends!) with one’s health. And much like the investment markets, it is impossible to “predict” how any medical condition will play out. With so much (medical) information at our fingertips, we want to self-diagnose and access more affordable (over the counter) treatment, but what if what “presented” as the flu is really tick fever, or perhaps malaria – what damage has been caused? I come from a generation with a very strong work ethic. You are at work every day and never late for work, deadlines are non-negotiable, you continually walk the extra mile, and ensure that your work is fully up to date before going on leave, you take sick leave only in extreme cases and annual leave only when the work calendar allows it (in December). However, COVID-19 has taught me that it is okay to slow down, to apologise if you have accidentally missed a meeting, to avoid driving in peakhour traffic, and to occasionally take annual leave. As for sick leave, in almost nine years of working at Momentum, I have not taken even a third of the days I am allowed to take every three years, because my health truly is my only wealth. The first step of recognising health as the only real wealth is prevention; eating and living a healthier, stress-free life with enough exercise and sleep, as well as going for the routine check-ups and immunisations as needed. Then, knowing your body and trusting your gut feel to seek medical care earlier rather than later when, for instance, you are concerned about an illness not clearing up quickly enough, new aches and pains where there haven’t been any before, and taking approved supplements/vitamins if the diet falls short of delivering all the required nutrients. Health is indeed the only real wealth. Starting today let us attend to, value, appreciate, and care for it more.