Before I downloaded HeadUp, I never would have considered getting myself checked for skin cancer. But I did and here’s what happened.
I founded HeadUp because I’ve always wanted to:
1. Help people take responsibility for their health and live longer, happier lives.
2. Build an early-warning system to detect and fix health issues before they turn into major problems.
We have an 'eat your own dog food' mentality here at HeadUp – we all installed the app the moment it launched, and we use it every single day. The people we love most in the world use it too – and these are the people that set our standard. If it’s helping them address problems and make sense of their health, then in our eyes, it’s working.
HeadUp taught me about me.
I’ve always enjoyed exercise and getting outdoors and figured I’d be on the healthy end of the spectrum. So, when I started using the app and got my ratings, I was shocked to see that my sleep rating was amber. I got a greater shock when I woke up one morning to an Insight telling me that if I knocked only 12 minutes off my sleep, I’d be in the red.
I’ve spent years consuming literature on sleep. I know how dangerous it is to not get enough. Yet there I was – guilty of not giving my body and mind enough rest and recovery. The scary thing about sleep is, if you deprive yourself for long enough, you don’t consciously realise you’re missing it. I had no idea there was a problem. A classic example of “if you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it”.
From then on, I made it my business to measure my sleep, manage it, and fix it – and thankfully I’m now in the green. As a consequence, I have more energy and I see how it affects my resting heart rate, Vo2 Max, fitness and mood. I don’t think anything bad would have happened in the immediate short-term if I didn’t have HeadUp point to it. I was surviving.
Eventually though, the fatigue would have worn down my immune system. I would’ve started getting sick more often and for longer than usual. My mental health would have taken a hit – sleep deprivation makes it easier for negative thinking, depression, and anxiety to creep in. I would have been more likely to make dumb mistakes, be in a fatal car accident…or all of the above.
My risks were sorted and prioritised.
The bigger and more immediate thing that HeadUp did for me, was alert me to how my risks were laid out. I don’t smoke, I exercise, I eat reasonably well (for a sweet tooth), and I put effort into friendships and family. All these things keep me healthy – physically and mentally. So straight off the bat, HeadUp showed me that – while I’m no fitness fanatic – I was doing a good job of reducing risks for illnesses that men my age (46) commonly face.
HeadUp predicted my risk for all the things you’d expect: heart disease, type 2 diabetes etc – but because their calculations were based on MY data, they were a lot more precise than general predictions based only on age and location. Being in good shape, I found I didn’t have to worry about these illnesses, so they were pushed down my ‘health priority’ list.
What was left? What was high on the list? Well, because I was born in Australia, grew up before everyone was sun smart, and I’m white, my risk of skin cancer was highest. It was sitting at the top of the list, rather than being buried deep down where I couldn’t see it.
Glenn: 1. Skin cancer: 0.
The only way I could get the data I needed was to get a skin cancer check. So I did. Guess what? HeadUp had pointed me exactly in the right direction. The doctors found a BCC or Basal Cell Carcinoma. This is the same thing Hugh Jackman had SIX times (which is cool, except that it’s cancer so it’s actually not fucking cool at all). I was able to get it dealt with easily only because it was found early.
I still had to go to a plastic surgeon and get a hole about the size of a coin cut in my forehead. But thanks to HeadUp’s elimination of general risks, and the way the app put my focus where it needed to be, I entered the healthcare system willingly, early, and well-informed. Plus, the surgeon very skilfully managed to put the inch-long scar along an existing wrinkle. It’s barely noticeable and my wife tells me I’ve gone from standard regulation handsome to ruggedly handsome. No biggie. And now I manage this by getting regular checks.
This could have been a BIG hole in my head if it hadn’t been brought to my attention as a risk and then detected. Skin cancer is a killer for people like me. I dodged a proverbial bullet.
HeadUp WILL save lives.
Why am I telling you this? Because everyone using HeadUp will end up with a story like mine sooner or later. It’s just a matter of time. Risks will be sorted based on personal data. Something will be detected. Action taken. We will save lives, prevent a lot of trauma, and head all kinds of nasty things off at the pass. My story will be one of a million stories. That’s what drives me and everyone here. Using data and technology to help people.