Why does HCB2 focus on cancer prevention and use the phrase, let’s “Fight Right”? Two stories led us to the creation of the Fight Right initiative!
First, several years ago an early morning show began a cancer awareness segment. To highlight the successes of research and treatment for one particular cancer, the guests included cancer survivors – many of them in early remission. So how did they honor and celebrate the survivors and the advances in medicine? They honored the achievements by bringing out a huge cake. Cake was served to honor those who had just completed their treatment. It was hard to watch many of these women, who had lost their hair throughout their courageous journey, served large pieces of cake. Why does this matter? Well, to start, our bodies simply do not need added sugars to live, especially not in the amounts often consumed in the modern American diet.
The second example was over 10 years ago when my first husband Rich Conklin, was heavily challenged with stage four colon cancer at the young age of 42. During the years of his cancer treatment, our children were athletically active in their late high school years. I was also working full time, as was Rich, in addition to his after-work coaching job as a high school football coach. Needless to say, our lives were hectic. As I saw the treatments taking a toll on his body, mind, and spirit, I began to take a close look at the daily noise we mindlessly added to our lives. Well wishers would make passing comments such as “Keep fighting, Rich!” and the cards we received stated, “Keep up the fight”, or “We are fighting with you”. I began to redefine the word “fight” and the images that came to mind. What is the best way to “fight”? All I craved was stillness and peace. We were tired of the “fight”. It had been nine months and the way we were fighting was not working.
The body’s physiological response when “fighting” helps to create an environment where cancer can thrive. Fighting raises adrenaline and cortisol levels, tenses muscles, and can deplete the body of magnesium and other critical nutrients. Consuming a high sugar diet does not help this situation as excessive sugar consumption can create an inflamed, acidic bodily environment where disease, including cancer, can thrive.1-2 Our fight during and after treatment truly seemed counterproductive to recovery. So, is there a better way to fight?
Yes, there is! HCB2 strives to help individuals and communities create both internal and external environments where cancer is challenged to survive. Helping individuals build and maintain a bodily environment that is unable to host the growth of cancer is a part of our work.
It’s no surprise HCB2 discourages the delivery of a plate of cupcakes or cookies to a new survivor in early remission. Isn’t it time to celebrate though? It sure is! Let’s, however, find ways to keep the “Fight Right”. HCB2’s Fight Right initiative educates and encourages folks to consider how they are “doing” life. How and what are we eating? How are we moving? How are we reducing stress? Being mindful about our daily routines can help bring about positive change. The Fight Right initiative includes three focus areas: Nourish. Move. Breathe.
Real whole foods (and water) help our bodies to function as intended. We strive to decrease toxic burden and reduce inflammation in the body and nutrients found in whole foods have this ability. Unfortunately, sugar-laden and processed foods add to the toxic load and increase inflammation. HCB2’s anti-inflammatory grocery list is a great resource for those wondering what it means to “give our bodies more of what it needs and less of what it does not”.
Instead of cupcakes, we help to educate patients and survivors on our body’s need for healthy fats, clean proteins, minerals, water and the brilliance of greens and vegetables. We provide resources directly to cancer patients such as the Healing Belly Basket. And we can help point the way to a cleaner, lower carb treat that has the savory flavor we all enjoy.
Our bodies are designed to move. Regular movement helps to reduce blood sugar levels, reduce blood pressure, move the lymphatic system (our body’s detoxification system) to eliminate waste and toxins, and bring oxygen into the body, which can reduce inflammation.
Movement also helps us to build strength, endurance, flexibility and can help with postural alignment and the maintaining of balance. Research also shows that exercise can help to combat some of the side effects of cancer treatment! The positive outcomes associated with movement through cancer treatment includes better sleep, increased energy, decreased levels of depression, increased confidence, and less post-treatment weight gain. Continuing to move throughout cancer treatment provides benefits to the patient and creates a foundation for continued positive outcomes throughout survivorship.
Our bodies are designed to rest in appropriate amounts. However, did you know you can rest while you work? Just by focusing on your breath during work or movement can provide several benefits to our bodies. By being present and focused on taking large diaphragmatic breaths while at work can increase an overall sense of well being. Being mindful during your tasks can reduce emotional, mental and physical stress. Chronic stress creates a constant drip of cortisol in our bodies which can increase inflammation and damage arteries. By bringing more oxygen into the body through deep breathing the immune system can be strengthened and lymph (cellular, and other, waste) can be moved out of the body. When you are driving in your car, typing an email, or cooking dinner, consider being mindful of the breath as a way to help reduce the dis-ease which can come from chronic stress.
We must eat, move, and breathe every day to remain alive. The Fight Right initiative focuses on those three activities and educates community members about the benefits of becoming mindful as to our state of being during those actions. We are human beings, not human “doings”. Being aware of how we take in nourishment, take in oxygen, and move through our day is free, simple, and may be the game changer in cancer prevention. Fight Right!
- Harvard Health. (2017, May). The Sweet Danger of Sugar. Harvard Health Publishing. Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/the-sweet-danger-of-sugar.
- Crawford, Amy. (2019, March 20) Increasing evidence of a strong connection between sugar and cancer. Medical Xpress. Retrieved from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2019-03-evidence-strong-sugar-cancer.html.