Self Improvement

How I Cleaned Up My Life and Lowered My Blood Pressure and Cholesterol

The loss of a coworker and uncle changed my attitude towards aging, and living.

Sean Kernan
6 min readOct 24, 2023


Pexels via Leandro Boogalu

Chris was a walking deadman and neither of us knew it. He was a tall and built 43-year-old with slicked back dark hair. He was my project manager and coworker, but also a former homicide detective with amazing stories.

One week, I noticed a raspy cough, like he was clearing his throat in perpetuity. It didn’t go away for weeks. He often complained of being tired. His fatigue worsened over the next two months and, finally, at his wife’s behest, he saw a doctor. Making a long story short, they found cancer all over his body. He was given six months to live and passed away just eight months later. Yet, in his denial of the situation, he kept working for another month. Then, I never saw him again and his story still haunts me.

I learned he hadn’t had blood work or a physical in 10 years. It’s not to say this would have saved him — but it might have. His death put me on the spot, because I also hadn’t had a physical in 10 years.

Cancer is uncommon in my family, but that doesn’t matter because, per some studies, only 5–10% of cancer is inherited, with lifestyle driving the remainder. Kernan men do, however, drop dead of heart attacks. Which is precisely what happened to my uncle Jeff, who was a doctor and should have known better. He was dead before he hit the treadmill he was jogging on.

Me, with the aforementioned uncle. He always ruined photos on purpose with funny faces :)

I turned the dreaded 40 in September. My partner just had a breast cancer scare (that turned out benign, thank god). So health is a hot topic as of late. 18 months ago, I vowed to do a yearly physical and get bloodwork done.

My results were OK but not perfect. My blood pressure was slightly high, at 127/89 (target is 120–90 for systolic and 80–60 for diastolic). My cholesterol was high at 211 (under 200 is the goal).

This was a bit frustrating because I exercise so hard, don’t smoke, and rarely drink alcohol. But it highlights…



Sean Kernan

Writer and writing instructor. Always on the hunt for a good story. That guy from Quora. Writing out of Tampa, Florida.