Walking on Saturday and Sunday, July 22-23, reflecting on Nicholas and Anastasia Tsoudis, reminded me about the importance of family in our lives.  I am thankful for all the stories Olga Tsoudis shared about her family and I am grateful for my family.

I logged 27.33 miles (or 64,529 steps) over the course of the weekend.  Thank you Olga, for the privilege of walking for your family members.  You and your family will remain on my heart and in my thoughts as you travel to Greece in August to make decisions about your mother’s estate.  Travel blessings!

Monday, 7/24 I am walking for the Native American Support Group which was launched from northern Arizona CSCAZ in 2022.  This support group meets on the Zoom platform and includes group members with a variety of different cancers from all corners of the state.  It is an honor and a privilege to meet with them each week as they share their individual difficult journeys with one another and receive support and encouragement from one another.

Support groups are a very important “pillar” of CSCAZ and most of them meet on Zoom as a remnant of COVID days when participants joined from various parts of the state.  In my opinion, support groups are one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves when faced with the life-changing trauma of a cancer diagnosis.  It brings people around us who are experiencing the same journey, whether as a cancer patient or as a family member, close friend, caregiver or loved one of a cancer patient.  Research shows that building a community of love and support around ourselves during difficult times, helps us traverse from one side of the journey to the other with the healthiest outcomes.

Lorenzo Cohen, author of “Anticancer Living” shares, “…support is the backbone on which all other lifestyle changes will either succeed or fail, whether it is logistical, motivational, or psychological.  The people you enlist to support you are key to your success.  Establishing an effective, personally tailored support network is where anticancer living begins, not where it ends.  It is the root required for the tree to stand, the foundation upon which the house can be built, and the stability that will ground and balance you as you move forward”.  (p. 83)

Cohen goes on to explain, “Part of the beauty of social support and its impact on our health is that it works in both directions – giving and receiving.  Just as having the support of others is vital for cancer survivors and the rest of us, mounting scientific evidence shows that giving our time to support others also sustains us physically and emotionally, and may improve our body’s ability to prevent and overcome disease”.  (p. 85)

This scientific evidence is part of the reason I wish everyone would join a support group.  It is wonderful to watch a support group of people come around one another and provide the stability and strength to get through the hardest days.  I would love it if everyone gave themselves the gift of joining either a patient or a family/caregiver support group.  CSCAZ has a variety of options which are all included on the monthly calendar of programs at www.cscaz.org.  Click into the Central Phoenix or the Northern Arizona calendar for all the details.  It is the place where everyone in the group benefits from everyone else in the group. Sharing the burden is life-giving.

SUPPORT • Weekly support groups • Caregiver support groups • Diagnosis specific support groups • One-on-One Oncologist led mentoring • Open to Options™ cancer treatment options  • MyLifeLine online cancer community.