By: Helene Hendon, CYT
(Helene teaches the Yoga for Men with Cancer at the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support.)
Have you allowed yourself to laugh today? Scientific research is supporting the age-old wisdom that laughter is the best medicine. Perhaps one of the most surprising aspects of the research is that fake laughter is as effective as real laughter. We can become proactive laughers, not relying on others or on external events. Go ahead, allow yourself a few fake giggles or chuckles! The more we laugh the easier it becomes and the more we feel inclined to laugh.

How Laughter Helps Your Health

Laughter, real or fake, is very beneficial. It increases oxygenation, releases endorphins, reduces cortisol and adrenaline, and produces regulatory T-cells. In other words, laughter reduces stress, improves mood, mental clarity and creativity, stimulates the relaxation response and supports the immune system. After prolonged laughter, endorphins, combined with an increase in oxygenation, shift the body’s physiology resulting in a positive mood change. As the laughter subsides, a peaceful, relaxed, and mentally alert state arises.

There are many ways to increase the amount of laughter in our lives. One way is through Laugh-A-Yoga. Typically in a Laugh-A-Yoga class, one participates in laughing games, while seated, standing and/or lying down, a meditation on laughter and finally a deep relaxation at the end. The class emphasizes the power of the fake laugh, supports the “fake it ‘til you make it” mindset and recognizes the “flip-flop-flip” principle of moving back and forth through real and fake laughter.

More Information

For more information on Laughter Yoga, you may want to read an article in the Hektoen International, a Journal of Medical Humanities.

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Loran Smith Center, Wellness


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Your Health Matters to Athens Regional

Improving the lives and health of those we touch is not just our mission within the walls of Athens Regional Health System.

Our "Health Matters" Team

Our “Health Matters” Team

We have a team of nurses, a certified health educator and a dietitian devoted to developing caring and trusting relationships with our community. They are an extension of the great care provided at our hospital, Regional FirstCare locations and physician offices. These relationships help reinforce that you can always count on Athens Regional to provide unmatched healthcare.

As a health system, we are always here for your care and we feel it’s just as necessary to provide you with the information, tools and support you need to self-manage and avoid unnecessary hospital visits. Our “Health Matters …” programs are meant to do just that.

Learn more about our community “Health Matters” programs.

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Posted by on July 11, 2014 in Wellness


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Becoming a Nurse – A Personal Story

Christpher Piller, RN, BSN, has been frequently recognized with compliments and awards for his nursing excellence here at Athens Regional Medical Center. Here’s just one example of his compassionate care:

“Chris never left the bedside for a single moment. He never let go of her hand or stopped looking her in the eye. He let her know she was bigger than this moment and this diagnosis. This patient received horrible news that day but she also received a nurse who understood what compassionate bedside care is all about. In addition, his care did not stop in our department. He transported her to her new room, spent time with her family and made sure they did not have any questions or concerns.”

His caring nature comes from a personal experience. He shares his story of becoming a nurse:

I grew up in a family of nurses and when I was younger I thought nurses were people who took care of sick and injured people by giving them medication. As I grew older and had interactions with nurses, I saw them acting as a caregiver, supporter or advocate whenever it was needed and I realized nursing was not limited to what I originally thought.

Nurses must possess not just a caring heart but also a strong one to fight for their patients. A nurse does not only give medication but also provides comfort to their patients. A nurse is not only a good speaker but is also a good listener. I grew to see that nursing is a profession that is always patient focused.

When I was in my early 20′s, I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s disease for the first time. Over the next 15 years it would come and go into remission numerous times. During that period, I went through rounds of chemotherapy and radiation. My respect for the profession of nursing grew each time those nurses wiped my tears, listened to me cry and complain, or just held my hand. The doctor got the credit for “fixing” me but through it all it was the nurses who took care of me. The lessons I learned by being a patient, as well as those I witnessed through my interactions with nurses during this time, shaped the nurse I wanted to become.

I have been influenced by many strong, dynamic, knowledgeable and caring nurses. When I started my career in healthcare, I quickly realized that being allowed to help care for patients is a privilege. As nurses, we meet them on their worst days when they feel powerless and out of control. We have lists of probing questions that sometimes are difficult to ask. We make sure to not just hear what they say but to really take the time to listen to them.

Nurses are there to care for you throughout your life. They are there from the moment you enter this world until the moment you leave it. I hope I never forget what it feels like to be the patient. The care I give today as a nurse is a direct reflection of the care I have received over the many years while dealing with Hodgkin’s disease. I remember and understand that patients come to a stranger asking for help and I know that we as strangers must ensure they trust in our abilities to help them.

Christopher receiving the 2014 J. Martin Sparks Award for bedside nursing excellence.

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Posted by on June 13, 2014 in Nursing, Recognition, Service


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New Imaging and Lab Satellite Location for You

Athens Regional Health System is proud to announce the expansion of its CT Imaging and Regional Lab Outreach services to a satellite office on West Broad Street.

Athens Regional patients now have the convenience of receiving their CT Scans and Outpatient Laboratory collections for testing at the ARMC Laboratory on the second floor of 2142 West Broad Street, Building 200. The building space is shared by affiliated urologists, Drs. Mark Ellison, Gary Walton and Robert Byrne.

More Information

For more information on scheduling a CT Scan, call 706-475-1000 and choose Option 1 or ask your provider to schedule an appointment for you.

For Lab Customer Support, call 706-475-3318 and choose Option 1.

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Posted by on June 11, 2014 in Uncategorized


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Healing Labyrinth for Cancer Support


A wonderful addition to our Healing Garden is getting special attention. We’re honored to have the American Society of Landscape Architects feature a blog about the Labyrinth near our Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support.

Originally posted on The Field:

image: Thomas Baker

image: Thomas Baker

[The labyrinth] is…at once the cosmos, the world, the individual life, the temple, the town, man, the womb—or intestines of the Mother (earth), the convolutions of the brain, the consciousness, the heart, the pilgrimage, the journey, and the Way.
–Jill Purce, The Mystic Spiral

The Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support was built in 2000 as part of the Athens Regional Medical Center (ARMC). The Center serves the community of Athens, GA and the northeast region of the state. It is a welcoming “safe harbor” for anyone affected by cancer and provides resources, research, and access to social services, as well as a supportive therapeutic outdoor environment for patients and their families as they deal with the physical, social, and emotional impacts of cancer treatment. The Center and surrounding gardens also serves ARMC medical professionals and caregivers who care for these patients and their families.

Construction on the…

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Posted by on June 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


Cancer Survivorship Side Effects

By: Maria Gaddy, RN, Oncology Certified Nurse

Your last chemotherapy or radiation treatment is finished. You’ve celebrated, in many offices, by ringing a bell. One chapter of your journey has ended (treatment) and a new chapter has begun (survivorship). Survivorship, like learning, is lifelong, and understanding how to manage long-term side effects is an important part of the journey.

Side effects common to survivorship can be divided into two types: emotional and physical. Examples of emotional include anxiety and depression, changes in thinking and changes in sleep patterns. Examples of physical include pain and fatigue. It’s important to note these side effects don’t necessarily stand alone. They can each contribute to each other. For example:

  • Changes in sleep patterns can be due to anxiety, pain or fatigue
  • Pain can cause depression and changes in sleep

Some side effects are due to real medical problems that can be treated. Some of these problems include anemia, hormone imbalance, kidney problems, or side effects of medicines used to treat the medical problems. Once the medical causes have been taken care of, there are ways to minimize side effects. Non-medical and integrative therapies may help and include the following:

  • Ice
  • Heat
  • Acupuncture
  • Physical therapy
  • Aquatic therapy
  • Massage
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Support groups
  • Yoga
  • Journaling
  • Reiki and Healing Touch

All of these may help to minimize symptoms. Some can be used to manage multiple side effects. Relaxation and stress management techniques can help anxiety, fatigue, pain, sleep and changes in thinking. Exercise has been proven to help mood, fatigue, sleep and pain. Sometimes because of physical limitations this can’t be achieved, so gentler approaches like aquatic therapy can help.

About the Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support

The Loran Smith Center for Cancer Support offers free support programs to cancer patients and their families. Read about how they make a difference.

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Posted by on June 4, 2014 in Loran Smith Center


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Celebrating Our Nurses

We Love Our Nurses

Nurses’ Week presents a perfect opportunity to shower our wonderful nurses with celebration. From free exercise classes to gift baskets and award ceremonies to meals, we wanted to make sure they know how much they’re appreciated. Thank you for all you do to improve the lives and health of patients!


AJC Nursing Excellence Awards

The AJCJOBS Nursing Excellence Awards – 2014 Athens Regional Health System Nominees: Shannon Gabbard, Terri Rogers and Christopher Pillar (not pictured)


Luncheon Honoring Nurses with 20+ Years at ARHS

Luncheon Honoring Nurses with 20+ Years of Service at Athens Regional


Prizes for Nurses

Prizes for Nurses


The Guest House Hosts Breakfast for Nurses

The Guest House Hosts Breakfast for Nurses


Happy Nurses' Day

Thank You for All You Do on Nurses’ Day and Every Day


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Posted by on May 7, 2014 in Nursing, Recognition, Service


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