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Let's bring Awareness - October



Wow, it's already October!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.



 

The Significance of Breast Cancer Awareness



Every October, it's common to encounter an abundance of discussions and campaigns centered on breast cancer. This focus on awareness is paramount because early identification, primarily through screenings, can detect the disease in its initial stages, making it more manageable.


Data from the American Cancer Society (ACS) reveals that breast cancer is the predominant form of cancer among American women, with the exception of skin cancers. Statistics show that an American woman has roughly a 12% chance, or 1 in 8 odds, of developing breast cancer during her lifetime. However, the likelihood of a woman succumbing to breast cancer is about 2.6%, which translates to a 1 in 38 probability.


Catherine Tuite, MD, the Section Chief of Breast Radiology and an Associate Professor of Diagnostic Imaging at Fox Chase Cancer Center, emphasizes the advancements in the field. She states, “Due to early detection, advanced treatment methods, and minimal surgical interventions, patients are now seeing improved outcomes.”


Currently, the U.S. boasts over 3.1 million breast cancer survivors, encompassing those under treatment and those who've concluded it. Tuite adds, “The increased awareness surrounding breast cancer undeniably contributes to more women opting for screenings. This proactive approach, coupled with cutting-edge treatments and minimally invasive surgeries, has enhanced the prognosis for many.”


**The Importance of Breast Cancer Awareness and Why October Matters**


Every year, millions of people across the globe come together in the month of October to raise awareness about a disease that affects countless lives: breast cancer. But why October? And why is awareness such a critical component in battling this disease? Let’s dive deep into the history, significance, and science behind Breast Cancer Awareness Month.


A Brief History: Why October?


The journey to designating October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM) began in the early 1980s. Before this dedicated month came into existence, many individuals and organizations were already working diligently to raise breast cancer awareness. In 1985, the American Cancer Society and the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries (now part of AstraZeneca) came together to establish BCAM, marking October as the designated month to increase awareness of the disease and to raise funds for research.


The iconic pink ribbon, now synonymous with breast cancer awareness, was later introduced in 1991 by the Susan G. Komen Foundation during its New York City race for breast cancer survivors. This symbol has since become an emblem of hope, solidarity, and commitment to fighting this disease.


The Power of Awareness


Awareness campaigns, like BCAM, play a pivotal role in healthcare. Here's why:


1. **Early Detection:** Raising awareness emphasizes the importance of regular check-ups and mammograms, which can lead to early detection. Detecting cancer early drastically increases the chances of successful treatment and survival.


2. **Fundraising for Research:** Increased awareness often leads to more donations and funding for vital research. This research is crucial for understanding the disease, developing better treatments, and ultimately finding a cure.


3. **Support and Community:** Awareness campaigns create a sense of community among survivors, patients, and their families. It reminds those affected that they are not alone and provides a platform for sharing stories, offering support, and fostering hope.


The Science of Altruism: Helping Others Helps Us


There’s a heartwarming, symbiotic relationship between helping others and benefiting ourselves. And science supports this:


1. **Release of "Feel Good" Chemicals:** Engaging in altruistic behaviors activates the reward center in our brains, releasing endorphins, often referred to as “feel good” chemicals. This is sometimes called the “helper's high.”


2. **Reduction in Stress:** Helping others can lead to a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, reducing anxiety and improving mood.


3. **Increased Lifespan:** Some studies suggest that individuals who regularly engage in altruistic activities may have a lower risk of mortality.


4. **Building Social Connections:** Acts of charity and assistance strengthen social bonds. Strong social connections have been shown to boost mental health, reduce the risk of depression, and enhance longevity.


In essence, when we support causes like breast cancer awareness, not only are we contributing to a greater societal good, but we're also promoting our own well-being. The mutual benefits of altruism create a cycle where everyone involved is uplifted.



Breast Cancer Awareness Month isn't just about wearing pink. It's a testament to the power of collective effort, the significance of early detection, and the invaluable nature of research. As we participate in this cause, let's remember that while we're aiding countless individuals affected by breast cancer, we're also nurturing our innate human instinct of altruism, proving that when we help others, we help ourselves.


Stay aware, stay supportive, and wear your pink with pride this October.


 

Lets dive more into how helping others can help oursleves and our minds.


**The Psychology of Altruism: How Helping Others Benefits Our Minds**


Altruism, or the act of helping others without expecting anything in return, has been a topic of interest to psychologists, neuroscientists, and sociologists for years. What is intriguing about altruistic behavior is its paradoxical nature: by focusing on others, we end up benefitting ourselves, particularly our mental and emotional well-being. Let's delve deeper into the psychology behind this and explore how we can incorporate altruism into our daily lives.


Psychological and Neurological Benefits of Altruism:


1. **Release of Endorphins:** Engaging in acts of kindness and charity can stimulate the release of endorphins, our body's natural painkillers. This phenomenon is sometimes referred to as the "helper's high," resembling the euphoria some people experience after exercise.


2. **Reduction in Stress:** Altruistic actions can lead to a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol. High levels of cortisol are associated with various health problems, including heart disease and diabetes. By helping others, we can potentially reduce our risk for these conditions.


3. **Elevation in Mood:** Acts of giving and kindness can increase the levels of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for mood regulation. Elevated serotonin levels are associated with feelings of happiness and well-being.


4. **Strengthening Social Connections:** Altruistic behaviors foster a sense of belonging and strengthen our ties with the community. Strong social connections are linked with improved mental health and longevity.


5. **Improved Self-Esteem and Purpose:** Helping others can bolster our sense of self-worth and purpose in life. When we positively impact another's life, it reinforces our belief in our own abilities and our value in the larger social fabric.


Implementation in Daily Life:


Understanding the benefits is the first step. But how can we weave altruism into our daily routines?


1. **Volunteer:** Find local organizations or causes that resonate with you. Whether it's assisting at a food bank, tutoring students, or working with the elderly, the act of volunteering can have profound effects on your mental well-being.


2. **Random Acts of Kindness:** Small gestures, like paying for a stranger's coffee, sending a thank-you note, or helping a neighbor with groceries, can go a long way in making someone's day while boosting your mood.


3. **Active Listening:** Sometimes, the most valuable thing you can offer someone is your undivided attention. Being present and genuinely listening to someone can be therapeutic for both parties.


4. **Donate:** If you're in a position to, consider donating money or goods to charities or individuals in need. The act of giving, no matter how small, can instill a sense of purpose and happiness.


5. **Educate Yourself:** Familiarize yourself with the issues or challenges faced by your community or the world at large. The more you understand, the more effectively you can contribute and help.


6. **Self-care:** Remember, you can't pour from an empty cup. Engage in self-care routines and ensure your well-being, which will, in turn, enable you to help others more effectively.


In conclusion, the act of helping others not only contributes to societal well-being but also nurtures our mental and emotional health. By understanding the underlying psychology and consciously integrating altruistic actions into our lives, we can build a fulfilling existence marked by connection, purpose, and joy.



 

So with that, I have a great recipe for you all in light of October and breast cancer awareness month…



**Pink Ribbon Pumpkin Cookies**


In honor of October's Breast Cancer Awareness Month, these Pink Ribbon Pumpkin Cookies are not only delicious but also symbolize support for breast cancer research and survivors. The pink icing contrasts beautifully with the golden hue of the pumpkin cookies, making them a hit at any awareness event or gathering.


**Ingredients:**


*For the Cookies:*

- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

- 1 teaspoon baking soda

- 1 teaspoon baking powder

- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

- 1/2 teaspoon salt

- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar

- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

- 1 cup pure pumpkin puree

- 1 large egg

- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract


*For the Pink Ribbon Icing:*

- 2 cups powdered sugar

- 3-4 tablespoons milk (or plant milk)

- 2 tablespoons light corn syrup

- 1/2 teaspoon almond extract

- Pink gel food coloring or beet juice


**Instructions:**


1. **Cookies:**

1. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C) and line baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt.

3. In a larger bowl, cream together sugar and butter until well blended. Beat in the pumpkin, egg, and vanilla extract until smooth.

4. Gradually add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture until combined.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto prepared baking sheets.

6. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until edges are firm. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely.


2. **Pink Ribbon Icing:**

1. In a small bowl, stir together powdered sugar and milk until smooth. Add in corn syrup and almond extract, mixing until icing is smooth and glossy. If the icing is too thick, add more milk, a tablespoon at a time, until desired consistency is reached.

2. Add a few drops of pink gel food coloring or beet juice to achieve a strong, vibrant pink and mix well.

3. Once cookies are completely cooled, use a piping bag or a plastic bag with the corner snipped off to draw a pink ribbon on each cookie.


Serve these Pink Ribbon Pumpkin Cookies at your next October event to spread both sweetness and awareness! Not only will you be delighting taste buds, but you'll also be igniting conversations about a very important cause.


as always,

Be Kind, Do Fearless


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