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Encouraging women to put their health first

The American Cancer Society is hoping to empower women to take more responsibility for their health through a means we’re all familiar with – entertainment. They recently developed a documentary film in collaboration with Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank, to inspire women nationwide to make their health a priority and take simple steps to help prevent cancer. The film helps mark the first anniversary of Choose You, a nationwide movement created by the American Cancer Society to raise cancer awareness and encourage women everywhere to be proactive about their health.

Hilary SwankAbout the documentary

The Choose You documentary will be released online June 23, at Snagging an invite to the online premiere is simple: Register at or like Choose You on Facebook.

The documentary tells the stories of three women who are making more of an effort to put their health first despite the everyday challenges that get in the way, such as family concerns, busy schedules and other roadblocks that often impede our best efforts to stay healthy. The three women featured in the film are: a busy business executive and mother of two boys who finally follows her doctor’s recommendation to undergo an important cancer screening test based on her family history; a cancer survivor who strives to be a role model for her young daughters by living an active and healthy lifestyle; and a single woman working toward being more physically active as she recovers from cancer and searches for love.

Why now?

Like the stories portrayed in the Choose You documentary suggest, we’re all busy – with families, jobs, getting food on the table, being there for our friends and family — not to mention all the little things like laundry, cleaning the house and grocery shopping that seem to suck up all of our time.

With all that on our plates, who has time to make health a priority? The scary fact of the matter, though, is that one in three women will get cancer in her lifetime. That said, it’s the actions we take today that will help change that statistic. More than half of cancer deaths could be prevented if people maintained a healthy weight through diet and regular exercise, avoided tobacco products and got recommended cancer screening tests. The more this message gets out – that it’s up to us to lower those frightening statistics – the more empowered people will be when it comes to health.

Why Hilary Swank?

Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank is executive producer of the film and feels the message the film sends is an important one.”I am so proud to partner with the American Cancer Society on this film because cancer is an issue that has impacted nearly every woman in some way, yet many of us don’t realize that we each have the power to help prevent cancer,” said the actress in a statement about the documentary. “My hope is that every woman who watches this film will not only begin to take steps to make her own health a priority, but will also share the message with friends and loved ones because together we can hopefully change the odds.”

Motivation to put health first

If you’re one of the countless people who know they should be doing more for their health but have yet to take the plunge, you’re not alone, and the Choose You campaign wants to help. By visiting you can make an online pledge, called a Choose You Commitment, in one of five different health categories: eat right; get active; get recommended health screenings; protect your skin; and quit smoking. If you choose to get active you can further define your goal, i.e. doing a certain amount of cardio per week, losing a certain amount of weight, going to a specified number of fitness or yoga classes a week, etc. Once you sign up (for free) you’ll have access to online support and tools, such as a calorie calculator, virtual dietitian, nutrition and activity quiz, smoking cost calculator, prevention and early detection videos, and daily health tips.

Here’s to a putting your health first (despite your busy schedule) and making time to eat better and move more.

Photo credit: Ivan Nikolov/

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