Happy Friday.  I am delighted to report that I walked 13 miles on Thursday on behalf of Nancy Foreman.  Nancy does so much work on behalf of those on a cancer journey and I am so grateful for all the lives she has touched, information she has dispensed, encouragement she has shared, and support she generously offers every day.  She has offered tips for endurance and encouragement to hundreds and hundreds of northern Arizonan’s on a cancer journey and we are lucky to have her expertise and commitment here in northern Arizona.  Thank you, Nancy, for the gift of you.

I hope that Friday brings you one day closer to some rest and relaxation.  We all must remember to incorporate time for rest and relaxation in our lives.  Rest and relaxation help us get a handle on stress.

Stress is woven into the very fabric of life, and we have a physiological response that is hardwired into us, the fight-or-flight response, that keeps us out of imminent danger.  A growing body of scientific data and research shows how stress impacts all aspects of our lifestyle and all aspects of our physical health. Stress modulates key biological processes linked with cancer risk and progression, and chronic stress is associated with worse outcomes for those with cancer. Chronic stress dysregulates the immune system, decreasing our body’s natural defense against cancer, and leads to increased inflammation.  It promotes tumor growth.  It makes our bodies more hospitable to cancer growth.  We must all learn how to control stress.

There’s a four-letter word that all of us should practice daily. That word is spelled R-E-S-T. Rest, as defined by the dictionary, means to cease work to relax, become refreshed or recover strength.  Relaxing helps our bodies by lowering blood pressure, decreasing anxiety, reducing pain, providing a state of calmness, or improving concentration. Rest also allows our bodies to rebuild cells and perform repairs to the vital organs. Muscles recover from being overworked, the electrical impulses in our brains tend to fire more efficiently and waste products can be effectively eliminated.

Just as there is a natural rhythm to life, there is a natural rhythm to health and healing. The human body is designed to run like clockwork. In fact, the body contains several internal regulatory systems that ensure our organs (such as the liver, pancreas, kidneys, lungs, and intestines) and immune, hormonal, and chemical systems function smoothly and rhythmically by balancing periods of biological activity with rest.

Governing these complex processes is an actual structure that we refer to as the “body clock,” or the master system that regulates and interacts with the body’s “secondary” timing systems. Healthy sleep patterns are critical for regulating these processes.

We will look a little more deeply into sleep, rest, and relaxation over the weekend.

In the meantime, I’ll share that today I am walking on behalf of all those impacted by cancer who get their treatment at Tuba City Regional Health Care Corporation.  We have a partnership with the Specialty Care Clinic in Tuba City and the CSC House of Hope located in Tuba City.  We are thankful for this partnership and the opportunity to connect those impacted by cancer utilizing this center to the free support services of Cancer Support Community AZ.