Wednesday, December 29, 2010

2011 : Resolution Time


The countdown has begun for 2011, the year of the Rabbit according to Chinese Astrology.

It has also been declared as  International Year of Forests and International year of Chemistry by the United Nations.

As G K Chesterton said, "The object of a New Year is not that we should have a new year. It is that we should have a new soul."

With the view to have a new soul i made the following 10  resolutions for the year 2011.


1.  Remember to count my Blessings.

2. Read.  Read more.  Read even more.

3.  Travel to trace my Roots instead of the clichéd holidays.

4.  Make regular trips to PVR Saket and Spice in Noida so that i don't miss out on great Hollywood movies. ( I get to see all Bollywood movies in my home town).

5.  To become more Tech savvy.

6.  Pray that the year is Positive, eventful and memorable for all my loved ones.

7.  Not forget important dates like anniversaries,  Birthdays and more.

8.  More outings with my Daughters.

9.  Eat Healthy,  Watch my weight.  Meditate. Stay Calm.

10. And last but not the least, to add dimensions to my Blog posts.

Wishing you a rocking 2011!











Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Hullabaloo in Chandigarh

Chandigarh, the City Beautiful is close to my heart.  For in the city is situated my Alma Mater.  I spent 5 eventful years of my youth there,  getting my PG in Chemistry.  The first year in GCG was a different ball game, even though it is a hallowed institution,  for actor Poonam  Dhillion had studied from there and yester years actor Sonu Walia was in our batch.

Every night there was a roll call in the hostel ground,  where all the girls assembled and our Warden would  make sure no girl was missing. Every now and then we would hear news about some girl scaling the boundary wall and  bunking both the college and hostel, but i was not in that league.  So we sulked and brooded and waited for our precious day out .We were "jailed" inside the hostel and could go out only on   specific days.  Never having experienced anything like this in my 16 years of life i found that suffocating to say the least.  So after Pre Medical while many of my batch mates stayed back in the college to complete Bsc, i opted for Chemistry Department in  Punjab University

The women's hostel in PU  was a great one as there were absolutely no restrictions what so ever. You could go in and out as per your liking but had to be back by a specified time.  If you needed  to go for a late night you had to mention the details in a register.

Post education i made a few trips to Chandigarh but this one was special as we were celebrating  the Silver Reunion.  Towards the end of 2008,  one of my batch mates formed a group on Google and since then more than 20 of the  batch mates had been located and were in touch through common e mails.  In the past two years,  more were traced. The  date of the  Reunion had been decided two years ago and it was on schedule with no changes.

Hubby and my younger daughter cold not accompany us but my Dad had to visit a relative in Chandigarh , so Dad,  me and my elder daughter started our journey in the taxi at 6 am from Faridabad. We crossed Sonipat and  Panipat and when we were a few kms away from Karnal the car gave out a strange sound. The driver stopped the car on the side of the high way and opened the bonnet to examine what had gone wrong.  There was bad news. The fan belt had broken.  The driver fidgeted with his tools  trying to fix things but when he realized he was stuck on the highway with a car that refused to start, he talked to his malik on the mobile. He then  told us he would go and get a mechanic.  Beginning to feel restless at this unexpected turn of events we got out of the car and stood on the highway watching the traffic  whizz by. Half and hour  later the mechanic and the driver arrived at the spot on a bike. The mechanic too fidgeted with his tools and came out with a solid bolt which had broken.  And then the mechanic and the driver started haggling  over money. Once again the driver made to call to his malik.  Finally an amount was settled. money handed over to the mechanic,  and the mechanic went back to get the broken part.  We waited and waited but the mechanic never came back  The driver who was in contact with the mechanic informed us that the spare  part was not available so his malik was sending another  taxi, an Indica.  He further told us that the  taxi would  reach within 15 minutes minutes as the driver  was speeding at 120 km/h.  But the minutes passed by and there was no trace of the taxi.

 We had been stranded for more than 2 and half hours on the highway when the driver informed us that the Indica with the number plate 5932 was heading towards us.  By now my daughter was  decidedly fidgety and as she  complained and i soothed her... "Dear we cant miss the Reunion. Its happening after 25 years.  Be a sport.  Well surely reach Chandigarh  in a few hours". The next 45 minutes were spent  standing on the edge of the road , looking for the fateful 5932 number plate  among the the cars whizzing by on the highway.  But still  no luck.

 By now  i had  lost all hope of the Indica ever locating us on the highway.  I had visions of  three of us standing on mid road with our luggage around us, waiting for a passing truck to have mercy on us and take us to the nearest town.  Finally, when we had been there for 3 hours and half, our driver who was constantly in touch with the Indica driver,  frantically started waving his hands, and in the next few seconds the much awaited  Indica arrived.  I heaved a sigh of relief .  I would make it to Chandigarh after all.   And to the much awaited Re union.

We had been travelling in Indigo which  has a decent boot where all our luggage had been  kept. Now with the smaller car we had to keep part of the luggage inside the car. It was uncomfortable but i shuddered at what was to come next.  But that was on reaching Ambala. For  now  we were back on the highway on our way to Ambala.

Now the programme  was that we had to pick up 2 relatives from Ambala and together all of us had to visit our relative in Chandigarh.  For this purpose we had opted for Indigo so that we could sit in convenience.  But  now we had a tiny Indica  with us. We reached Ambala, and picked up our relatives and explained  our misadventure on the highway and apologized to them for the smaller car.  So there we were, four adults squeezed in the back seat, straddling our luggage in our laps, shuffling  our butts every now and then in our seats, in the vain attempt of trying to get a few more inches of seat space .  As my daughter complained  i whispered to her, " Its ok.... we cant miss the Reunion  dear! My friends are coming from all over India and abroad".

We finally reached Chandigarh despite the discomfort in the car, and went over to our relatives place.  That over,  i was dropped at  my guest House and Dad and the remaining relatives went back to Ambala. We settled in our room and relaxed for a while. It had indeed been a taxing day as we had been up since 4 in the morning.  The excitement of seeing some of my friends after 25 years was building up now. I was only a few hours away from all the action in the Hotel where the Reunion had been arranged.

Finally the moment arrived and i walked into the Hotel Banquet Hall with my daughter.  Sure there were a few familiar faces, my friends from NCR and then there were those which had changed over the years.  One by one the intros were done and the magic of the Univ days came back. As the evening progressed  more and more  families kept coming in.  Handshakes, hugs, photographs and more happened all over.  Once everyone who was expected had come in, there were three rounds of introductions.... first the batch mates, secondly the spouses and last of all the kids.  Then there was a round of songs by the  singers and an impromptu dance by one of my class mates as he couldn't stop his emotions from overflowing.  It was clearly a case of role reversal as our kids watched the animated conversations and clicked photographs for us.

Dinner over we were all gifted a beautiful memento  



 and we all left, with the plan to meet next morning at Student Centre in the University.

The next morning we assembled at the Student Centre which was the nerve centre of the Univ, right next to the Library.  The Centre housed indoor games and a Cafeteria which was very popular  with the students.  We sipped espresso coffee in the open pavement




 and reminisced about the chole bhature birthday parties we had there.  Once everyone  had arrived we walked through the campus to our department and it was here that memories came flooding back. There was hullabaloo all around




 as we forgot our age and  sat on the corridors, inside our classroom, and regaled each other with incidents  from 25 year ago.We sat inside the Auditorium which was the venue of our exams, and last of all went inside the Labs where we  had  more fun than study. And we merrily posed for pictures amid joy and laughter.

The next stop was Talwar Dairy in Sector 15 where we had the famous flavored paneer.  As could be expected the Market has become high profile.  It was now time of  visit Capital Book Depot the classiest Book shop of Sector 17 market, which is incidentally owned by a batch mate's father.  It is indeed a one stop shop for book lovers of Chandigarh .  Everyone picked up a few books and we were given a gracious discount by Uncle along with a classy Calendar and a booklet of quotes.

It was lunch time and  we moved to Hot Millions Restaurant. Since it  was Christmas, the restaurant was crowded and wore a festive look.  But we had our reservations and enjoyed the Buffet. Lunch over we assembled near the fountain in the Market Square and finally bid our good byes with promises to have regular meets in future instead of after quarter of a century. My daughter and i strolled in the market and did some shopping and finally went back to the Guest House.

The next morning we left for Ambala, picked up my Dad and  headed back to Faridabad.  It had been a wonderful Reunion, a dream come true.  Friendships forged and memories shared in youth are the most precious and everlasting  ones.  Despite the misadventure on the highway it  was a wonderful trip and i look forward to our next meet. Thanks a ton to my daughter for being such a sport!












Wednesday, December 22, 2010

South Asian Reading Challenge 2011



Its time to say goodbye to 2010 and hello 2011.  The countdown has begun and in just 9 days we will enter a brand new year.  So its that time of the year when you sit and jot down lists of  resolutions.  While i still have to  make my list, one of the top resolutions is to revive my reading habits

And then i came across a post by Shilpa Garg about a unique Reading challenge called the South  Asian Challenge.  This is the brain child of S Krishna, who is aiming to popularize books about South Asians and by South Asians.

Here are a few books i plan to read in this genre:

The lost  flamingoes of bombay by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi


Haunting Bombay by Shilpa Agarwal

Saffron Dreams by Shaila Abdullah

Madras on Rainy Days by Shobhan Bantwal

Modern Spice by Monica Bhide

The Music Room by Namita Devidayal

One amazing Thing by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

The Place of Illusions by Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni

Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

Secret Daughter by Shilpi Somya Gowda

I hope to source these books form Khan market in Delhi, If you too want to join and sign up for this challenge click  HERE

Happy Reading and Happy Challenge! Wishing you a wonderful 2011!!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Delhi Indiblogger Meet

When i came to know about the scheduled Indiblogger meet via an email, i was mighty surprised and happy too.  For i had read about meets in other metros but  somehow there was never a talk about a  Delhi Meet. So i registered myself and looked forward to meeting fellow bloggers  whose posts i would make it a point to read , besides remaining in touch with them on Facebook.

Since i  drive only locally in Faridabad , i  have to be dependent on hubby and his driver for trips to Delhi and NCR.  But for this occasion hubby had some important work and couldn't spare the driver. So i had no option but to call in my talkative but reliable Taxi wala from my neighborhood who is always a safe bet if i am travelling on my own.

The networking started  early morning .  Messages on Facebook.  Calls to fellow bloggers in Faridabd and Delhi. Exchanging phone numbers . SMS and more.

Ritu Lalit a blogger from Faridabad and my mentor into my foray into blogging decided to go together as we live in the same town.  We reached the Religare Art Gallery, the venue of the meet in CP an hour late.

  As we walked in, Vineet Ranjan welcomed us and asked us to log into our indiblogger ids.  We did so and settled  down in our seats.




 The screen in front of the room displayed  the message " Abha Midha walked in 1 minute ago".  This was indiblogger's way of welcoming its arrivals.

The introductions were already taking place and the mood was one of camarderie.  No serious dialogues  for sure. Like Addy's Brainwave intro was " I blog about serious stuff like how to date 3 girls at  one go!"
There was more laughter with  other bloggers remarking about the number of visitors to their blog.

In the mean time i got to meet many bloggers whom i had know virtually .   Prerna     .  Indian Homemaker,  Tikuli,  Purba Ray,    zephyr,   Pankaj Batra,    Arushi,   Sangeeta. And Anshul Tiwari

Among the so many new bloggers i also happened to meet Shayon,   the guy from Mint. Shayon, it was gr8 meeting you and i am waiting for you to email the video clip you took!

Introductions over it was time for the sponsors to conduct a friendly quiz and hand over hampers to the winners.

It was now time for cordial game, the ice breaker.  We were each given a chart paper and a pen and asked to hang the paper on our backside.




  We were asked to draw caricatures and give comments to our fellow bloggers.  The room was suddenly transformed into hectic activity with each blogger trying to get max comments and  caricatures.

There were 3 winners and then we moved to the refreshment room  Post refreshments there was a healthy  discussion .  One of the hot topics debated  was the attitude of the  people of the city of Delhi.  Many shared their experiences especially those who had come from other states.  The general feeling was that Delhites  needed to be more  warm and friendly towards  other people.

In the last segment of the meet we were handed envelopes from Blanket of Relief and asked to donate in cash or cheque and place it in the drop box. Each one of us obliged happily.

Finally it was time to wrap up the  meet.  There were brief addresses by the Blanket of Relief and Religare representatives.

To me the meet was an eye opener and i realized that blogging was more than a hobby but a serious business.  I am so glad i could attend the meet.

There were only 2 things missing.  One was Renie Ravin. It would have bee great if we had an opportunity to meet you.  Never mind, next time. But the Indiblogger team  did a wonderful job for sure.  The second was the case of missing T shirts.  Anoop i hope you remember your promise!

That was the whole affair.  Next time there is an Indiblogger meet in your city do drop all agendas and make sure you attend it.  I promise you you wont be disappointed.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Why Citrus?

Winters this year are colder than they have been for years in Delhi. To keep good health and avoid being sick here is a simple remedy: Go Citrus! The fruit market is selling bountiful of oranges and keenu, so make sure you take your dose of VitaminC

Citrus Fruits are a rich source of Vitamin C, or Ascorbic acid.  Vitamin C is a water solube vitamin.  It is vital for the production of collagen, a protein essential for healthy skin, bones , teeth and gums.  

Deficiency of Vitamin C leads to Scurvy which shows in form of swollen gums, bleeding, loss of  appetite, aching joints and fatigue.

Citrus fruits are good for  skin too Regular intake could help to nourish skin and delay aging of skin.



Lemon

The exact origin of lemons remains a mystery, though it is believed that lemons were first grown in India, China and Burma. In India  lemons are an integral part of the diet especially as an ingredient in salads, chaat , bhelpuri, pickle and the hugely popular nimboo pani especially in the peak of summers.

Lemons are an excellent source of Citric acid. They contain antioxidants and cancer preventing compounds. The high acid content helps to flush harmful bacteria out of the body. 

Drinking lemon juice in warm water in the morning is a ritual with many health conscious people practise. Drinking lemon juice in the morning hydrates the body and triggers the production of enzymes needed to digest breakfast. This is highly recommended by dietitians for weight loss too.

Lemon oil can be used to treat stress, infections, asthma, insomnia, skin and hair inflammation and stomach problems.

Oranges


Oranges are perhaps the most common and loved citrus fruits, forming an important part of breakfast,  the world over.  The fruit was first cultivated in the Middle East in the 9th century and introduced into Europe by the Moors, Portugese and Italians.

The vitamin C content found in oranges provides antioxidant protection against cancer causing free radicals and help to boost immune system.  Vitamin C can also reduce the severity of inflammatory conditions and help to combat osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and asthma.

Vitamin C can also reduce the risk of death, cancer and stroke. Oranges contain substances called limonoids which are proven to fight cancer of skin, mouth, lungs, breast, colon and stomach.

Grapefruit


Grapefruit is another fruit from the citrus family though not much popular in India. It was first available in 18th Century in Jamaica.  The United States became a major grapefruit cultivating nation and orchards can be found in California, Arizona, Florida and Texas.

Grapefruits contain lycopene that has anti tumor qualities.  Lycopene has highest capacity of any phytonutrients and can reduce the risk of Prostate Cancer in males.

The Pectin found in Grapefruits can reduce cholesterol levels in blood.

Sweet Lime

Sweet Lime is the most popular and easily available citrus fruit in the marke, all year round,  though it is mostly consumed  as its juice.  In every corner of every town or city one can find a juicewala  with his aluminium juicer as seen in the picture on the left.

Vitamin K found in limes is essential for healthy clotting of blood.  Vitamin K content in lime also reduces risk of age related osteoporosis, bone fracture and cardiovascular disease.

Juice sold by the juicewala is definitely better than the the packaged ones available in the market as the preservatives  added tend to some loss of vitamins.




Citrus fruits have also found their way into modern cosmetics as moisturizers, face washes , soaps and  even detergents for their special benefits.

So go ahead and buy your stock of Oranges and Keenu that have come in the market and pay regular visits to your neighborhood vendor selling fresh juice for you cant live a healthy life without your dose of vitamin C.
















Sunday, October 24, 2010

Motilal Gupta : A Beacon of Light

The serpentine queue outside the Sai Baba Temple in Lodhi Road in N Delhi was growing longer by the minute.  An affluent businessman from  South Delhi passing by the temple had  a sudden wish to enter the temple of Sai Baba.  So he got down from the car and bought a basket of pooja  items.... a rose garland, nariyal, incense sticks and prasad,  and stood patiently in the line. Twenty minutes later as he stood in front  of the statue of Shirdi Sai Baba, he felt goose pimples all over  his body, and in that moment he beacme a devout Bhakt of Baba  This was a divine intervention of Baba's blessings,  as this incidence was to change the course of his destiny from a businessman to a philanthropist.

The businessman belonged to the prosperous Mehndi traders of Faridabad though they lived in Greater Kailash in  South Delhi.  They had several agricultural lands in Faridabd.  A year after having visited Baba's temple,  the  man had a calling to build a Sai Baba temple in Faridabad.  So he announced to his family that he would be donating 3 acres of agricultural land to build a  temple of Sai Baba. Fortunately for  him, his whole family - wife, children and brothers stood by his noble calling and encourgaed him to go haead with the task. This was the beginning of the transformation from a businessman to a philanthropist.

Motilal Gupta
This was 22 years agao in 1988 and the man was none other than Motilal Gupta, the founder and Chairman of Shri Shirdi Sai Baba Temple Society in Tigaon in Faridabad, popularly known as Sai  Dham.  Today Sai Dham is a leading  socio-spiritual NGO of Faridabad, since its inception in 1988,  striving to foster education, wipe out hunger, alleviate poverty, organize mass marriages and provide medical care to otherwise neglected segments of the society.


 Motilal would frequently visit Faridabd to spend time at Sai Dham.  It had become very popular with the poeple of Faridabad as it was set in a spacious piece of land, with a beautiful Pipal tree in the compound and a Lendi bagh, amidst the fields, away from the hustle and  bustle  of the town. 




He would often see kids loitering about in the complex, fighting with each other over getting khichdi, the prasad of the temple.  They would have their share and come again and again for more,  being a nuisance.  At first Motilal was upset by this unruly behaviour of the kids, and then it dawned on him that it was not the fault of the kids but their circumstances.  There we no one to teach them manners how to behave in a temple and make good  use of their time.  Most of the kids came from the neighbouring villages and slums and did not get 3 square meals a day.





It was then that  he decided to open a school for the underprivileged children and since then he has never looked back.   He knew, convincing the parents of these children to send their kids to school would not be an easy task, so he came up with the idea of mid day lunch for the kids,  as an incentive to study.

One day, he observed a kid swallowing food in a rush.  When he enquired  the reason for the kid's behaviour the child replied, " i did not eat anything  since last night" Motilal realized that many of the kids did not have breakfast as their parents could not afford,  and so he  introduced breakfast too as part of the facilites in shirdi Sai Baba School , as one couldn't expect children to study on an empty stomach.



 The school which started off as an open school with classes being held in corridors of the sprawling temple complex ha s a proud building today with 750 students being offered free education with Books, Uniforms, Lunch, Breakfast and Health care.




The second school building is already under construction and the target is to introduce classes from the present 7th to 12 th , for enrolling 2000 students.

People from different walks of life , both in India and around the world have contributed to the functionings of  Sai Dham by their continued  generous patronage. 

As you enter the complex there is a huge bill board  with  a picture of the students of the Shirdi Sai Baba school with none other than the President Shrimati Pratibha Patil.




The school also organizes  excursions to Taj Mahal and other places. As the children  are from the weaker sections of the society, many of the students do not have a TV at home.  So the school arranges to show inspirational movies for the kids like 'Taare Zameen Par'.



Receiving an award   from Governor of Haryana
 As an ex teacher i have volunteered a bit of my time with the students in the school.  I found the kids highly motivated about their studies and future.  They are already aware that in order  to break away from the cycle of poverty  they need good education to fulfill their dreams.

Motil Lal Gupta regularly counsels the parents on the need of educating  their children for a better future.

As you enter the premises of the school within the complex of Sai Dham,  a board proudly displays the results of class 5  Haryana Board  exams.





 Sai Dham is truly an organization in the service of humanity.  For it is not only running the Shirdi Sai Baba school for underpriveleged children but running a gamut of other activities .

Besides the  Shirdi Sai Baba Temple, there is also a beautiful Panchmukhi Shiva Temple in black stone within the complex.  The temple has a bhandara every second Sunday.  The Bhandara typically begins with cultural items from the schoold children, bhajans of Baba, taking the  distinguished guests to the school building where Motilal addresses the guests about the various activites of Sai Dham and appeals to them for theirt continuous patronage, followed by a sumptuous lunch in the spacious Dining Hall of  Motilal's office within the complex .

Bhandaras are also held on other auspicious days like Ramnavmi.  Dussehra, Gurupurnima etc.

Four times  a year,  it conducts mass marriages for the weaker sections of society and gives every couple the basic gifts needed  to start a happy marriage. 






 I attended a mass marriage a few months back this year and it was an electrifying experience as hundreds thronged to witness the event, mostly relatives of the bride and the grooms. You can read  more about that in my earlier  post  Discovering Sai Dham 


Providing Health care is also one of the thrust areas of Sai Dham. It provides Medical assistance to 1200 patients daily through a network of 16 dispensaries. Other activities include Industrial Sewing  training  to poor girls and getting them placed in Export Houses.

Sai Dham also has Home for the aged within the complex in the form of 3 rooms with attached toilets and kitchen.  Plans are in the pipeline to open a Home  for the aged.

How is it possible for a single person to do so much in a lifetime,  that too as a septuagenarian?.  Yes! Motilal Gupta is not a day less than 76 years.  Undoubtedly it is Baba's blessings that  have given him the nuances of running Sai Dham for the pass 22 years. And everyone who visits the complex is impressed by the activities and donates generously,  from the common man to Politicians, Industrialists, PSUs, other NGOs and even the Bollywood actor Rani Mukherjee , to name a few.


He has been honored with several  awards for his contribution to society.


Motilal Gupta is a living example of a karamyogi who believes that we are on this planet to go beyond our domestic needs and personal goals, and  work towards providing succor to the underprivileged sections of society and thereby creating a better society for all of us.

I had visited  Sai Dham several times and had seen his photographs and photos of the various activities  of Sai Dham  in the complex. I had an urge to meet the man behind the project.  A  chance meeting with his daughter Mamta made it possible for me to know Uncle ( as i call him ) from  close quarters.

For me it is sheer joy to be writing this post and telling the Blogoshpere about this amazing person.  Uncle, you are a true Beacon of Light, inspiring everyone who crosses your path with your unwavering commitment and exemplary zeal towards the activities of Sai Dham.   You are a living example of choosing ' 'Good Over Bad', the message of the festival of Dussehra. 

I hope my post which is an entry  for the contest 'Good over Bad' by Blogadda, will inspire the residents of NCR and those visiting NCR to visit Sai  Dham at least once.  I strongly recommend that you visit Sai Dham on the day of mass marriages as you'll be a witness to a great event  where hundreds of people come.  The next mass marriages are on 21 Nov 2011 and 20 February 2012.

I end this post with prayers that Baba blesses you with good health and a long life,   so that you can continue to make a difference to society by your philanthropic ways.  Kudos!

[When Blogadda brought out this contest , about writing a post on the topic 'Good over Bad' whereby a blogger could write  a post about having witnessed a person who  has brought a difference to society, i thought of Motilal Gupta. He is truly an inspiration to all,  especially to the people of Faridabad who are indebted to him for giving 22 years of his life to philanthropy. ]


Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Understanding Breast Cancer







This is my second post on Breast Cancer.  In my first post   'Let's Say Bye Bye to Breast Cancer' i had created awareness  about the Campaign being organized by Indusladies and Blogadda.  This post is all about decoding Breast Cancer. 

Facts

This year 100,000  women would be diagnosed with breast cancer in India.  50,000 will die just because they were diagnosed late.

Luckily survival rate is more than 90% if diagnosed early.

Every 13 minutes, a woman dies of breast cancer 

85% of breast lumps found are benign.

One in eight woman or 12.6% of all women will get breast cancer in her life.

96% of women who find and treat breast cancer early will be cancer free after five years.

You can never be too young to develop breast cancer .  breast cancer self exam should begin by the age of 20.

What are the signs of Breast Cancer?

Signs of breast Cancer may include pain, skin thickening, nipple discharge or a change in the breast size or shape.

What is Breast Cancer?

Everyday cells in your body divide, grow and die. Most of the times cells divide and grow ina an ordinary manner. But sometimes cells grow out of control. This kind of growth of cells forms a lump or mass called a tumor. tumors are either benign (non cancerous) or malignant (cancerous).

Malignant tumors are made of abnormal cells and and are cancerous.  Malignant tumor cells can invade nearby tissue and spread to other parts of the body.

How does Breast Cancer grow and spread?

To grow, malignant tumors need to be fed. They get nourishment by developing new blood vessels in a process called angiogenesis. The new blood vessels supply the tumor with nutrients that promote growth. As the malignant breast tumor grows it can expand  into nearby tissue.  This process is called invasion.

Cells can also break away from the primary or or main tumor and spread to other parts of the body. The cells spread by travelling through the blood stream and lymphatic system.this process is called metastasis.

When malignant breast cells appear in a new location they begin to divide and grow out of control again as they create another tumor.  Even though the tumor is growing in another part of the body, it is till called breast cancer. The most common locations of metastatic breast Cancer are the lungs, liver, bones and brain.

Who is at risk?

Age All women age 40 and older are at risk for breast cancer.  Most cases occur at 50 or above and risk is especially high for women over 60.

Personal history of breast cancer.  women who have had breast cancer are more likely to develop a second breast cancer.

Family history.

Genetic alterations. Inherited changes in certain genes  e.g. BRCA1, BRCA2 increase the risk of breast cancer.

Breast Density.  women who have a high  percentage of dense breast tissue have high risk.

Reproductive and Menstrual history.  women who had their first menstrual period before 12 or who went through menopause after 55 are at risk.

Long term use of Menopausal Hormone Therapy.

Radiation therapy. women who had radiation therapy  of chest before the age of 30 are at risk.

alcohol. Studies indicate  higher intake of alcohol means higher risk.

Body Weight. Risk is higher for overweight or obese women.

Physical activity level.  Inactivity means high risk as being active reduces risk by preventing weight gain.

Breast Self Exam (BSE) 

Every woman over 20 should periodically self examine the Breasts to look for any guilty or a nodule , just like a hard pea.  Alternately women can get this done at a Breast  examination clinic.


What is a Mammogram?

Mammogram is an X ray picture of the breast. Mammograms can be used to check breast Cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. this type of mammogram is called screening mammogram. The X ray images make it possible to detect tumors that cannot be felt.

Mammograms can also be used to check Breast Cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found.  this type of mammogram is called Diagnostic Mammogram.

Mammogram has a false negative rate of 10%. So  it is advisable to go for Fine needle Aspiration cytology (FNAC).

Methods of treatment

 Methods of treatment for breast cancer are local or systematic.  Local treatment are used to remove , destroy or control cancer cells in a specific area.  Surgery and Radiation therapy are local treatments. Radiation therapy is the use of high energy rays to kill cancer cells and stop them from growing.

Systematic treatments are used to destroy or control cancer cells throughout the body. chemotherapy and hormone therapy are systematic treatments.

Surgery

There are two kinds of surgery for Breast Cancer. A Lumpectomy involves removal of tumor as well as some normal tissue surrounding it.  No reconstruction is typically needed following lumpectomy.

Mastectomy is removal of breast . This is usually appropriate for women who have cancer  in multiple areas of breast. Reconstruction at the time of surgery is an option.

Chemotherapy
This is the use of driugs to kill cancer cesll. the drugs may be given by mouth or injection the drugs enter the blood stream and teavel throughout the blood stream. Chemotherpay is given in cycles of drugs followed by a  recovery period and then another treatment and so on. Chemotherapy acts by killing cells that divide rapidly, one of the main properties of cancer cells.  It also harms cells that divide rapidly under normal circumstances  - cells in bone marrow, digestive tract and hair follicles. 

 Some common side effects of chemotherapy are decreased production of blood cells  resulting in depression of Immune systems, Fatigue, Hair loss ( temporary), Nausea ( temporary).

Hormonal therapy is used to keep cancer cells  from getting the hormones they need to grow.  in this treatment drugs are given which change the way hormones work or surgery to remove ovaries is done which make female hormones.

New Hope

Scientist have developed a new cancer treatment that can safely deliver extremely high chemotherapy doses with minimum side effects. Called TDM1, it has very good anti tumor activity as well as much lower toxicity.In this drug only the malignant cells are destroyed so patients have fewer side effects associated with chemotherapy.It is being developed by the Pharma company Roche.

Spreading Awareness

Woman's Cancer Initiative - Tata Memorial Hospital is organizing an Annual breast and Gynecological Cancer Conference.  Actors Lisa Ray


and Dimple Kapadia will be the faces of the Campaign between October 22 and 24, 2010.

Docu- Drama on Fighting Breast Cancer

Uni - Globe Entertainment Production has produced a docu - drama on the issue called '1 a  Minute'. Directed by Namrata Singh Gujral, the movie has partnerd with Priya Dutt's Nargis Dutt Memorial Charitable Trust (NDMCT) in India.The movie stars International actors like Lisa Ray, Olivia Newton John, Barbara  Mori who all survived CancerIt will be released in select theaters on October 29, 2010.  Part of the profit  from the sale of each ticket will be donated to NDMCT.












October
 is Breast Cancer Awareness month and throughout the world efforts are being taken to spread awareness about this life ending disease. But the good news is that if detected at an early stage one can survive and live a Cancer free life.  Besides all that is  being done by the medical fraternity and Charity , it is friends  and family who can be the biggest support for a woman going through treatment of Breast Cancer. So let us go Beyond Hope and  never undermine the loving care of a loved one and  let us all give extra care and love to someone who is fighting this disease.  I hope my post will make a small difference in creating awareness.  Do give your comments!

































Friday, October 15, 2010

Water : Every drop Counts


On July 28, 2010 The United Nations General Assembly declared clean water and sanitation a human right. This is because those of us who have access to clean and safe drinking water cannot for a minute imagine that this basic commodity is not available to millions of people.

 Today, October 15 is Blog Action Day, a day when  thousands of bloggers from over 125 countries  are  blogging  about one issue,  WATER.

It is difficult to believe that 884 million people in the world don't have access to safe drinking water and 2.6 billion people don't have access to basic sanitation. One in eight of us are subject to preventable diseases and even death on account of unavailability of safe drinking water.

Across the globe about 4500 children die each day from unsafe water and lack of basic sanitation facilities.Over 90% of  deaths  diarrhea due to unsafe water and sanitation occur in children under 5 years old. Children are the world's future and it is the responsibility of  each one  of us to create awareness about  the is water crisis,   for a  better tomorrow.

Water is 


a Human rights issue.

 a children's issue

 a women' issue


 as in Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours every year just walking for water.  They walk miles to the nearest source to collect water for their families.  Time spent walking keeps them from work and  taking care of their families and not finding enough  times for themselves.

In India too,  in slum areas,  water is a scarcity and the women have to work hard to fulfill the requirement of water for their families.

 Long queues at the Water supply tanks and at  the few taps in the areas takes  a lot of their time.



UNICEF is on the forefront  and is doing whatever it takes to stop children dying from lack of access to clean water and sanitation.  It sponsors the UNICEF TAP  Project which raises money each year in partnership with thousands of restaurants in the US. Every dollar from the TAP Project  supports UNICEF Water, Sanitation and Hygiene programs, thus saving and improving lives of countless children in more than 100 countries.

Internet  is a powerful tool  and blogging on this issue on a single day,  the world over, every blogger is helping to create awareness  about scarcity of safe water and helping to take this challenge ahead.

Sanitation as defined by WHO " refers to the provision of facilities  and services  for the safe disposal of human urine and faeces". Inadequate sanitation is a major cause of disease worldwide and improving sanitation is known to have a significant beneficial impact on health both in household and across  communities.


In India, in the area of sanitation the Sulabh Movement has brought about a social revolution. Started by Dr Bindeshwar Pathak, the Sulabh toilets are low cost and environmental friendly solution for people.

Recently my daughters visited the city of Mumbai in India. Coming from a town that has no huge water bodies,  one big attraction about their holiday in Mumbai were the beaches.  so as soon as they landed they head for the beach but  on reaching there the site they met was  a big dampener.  For the beach was littered with wastes and an unhealthy smell was in the air.

We need to keep our rivers and oceans free of pollution. Strong laws need to be made for allowing industries to dump toxic wasted into the rivers and oceans.

Fisheries is an important livelihood for  thousands of people all over the world. Polluted rivers and oceans will dramatically lower the reproduction and survival of fishes in the world.

Two international organisations that are working towards the goal of water are water.org and charity:water.

Creating  awareness  for water conservation is also very important.  The use of automatic water  on and off taps  in malls and hotels is a good  practise.  In Agriculture the use of drip sprinklers over using canals for water irrigation helps to conserve water.  We need  to educate our kids the art of conserving water in daily life.

Besides conservation and Fundraising, we need to tap the technology sector.  Rain  Water Harvesting is gaining popularity in many countries.



  It is a simple solution to safe drinking water as rain water is one of the purest forms of water .  In India a NGO , Centre  for Science and Environment (CSE),  is  working on the water challenge amongst other environmental issues. It provides technical training to people interested in setting up Rain Water Harvesting.

Some private organizations are also in the forefront of water crisis.  An  organization called Everything About Water is one of the premier organisation with  an edge on technology. Some of their expertise include

Water Management Systems
Water Treatment and Purification
Waste water management and Recycling
De watering and flood control
Sewage and sludge treatment
Packaged Drinking Water
Water Pollution Monitoring
Rain Water Harvesting 
Ground Water Management.

Everything About Water also organizes International Exhibitions and their next conference is scheduled to be held in Mumbai in 2011.

A number of International celebrities are supporting this cause. Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Leonardo Di Caprio, Pierce Brosnan, James Cameron are some of them. Together the common man can join hands to battle the water crisis and work towards providing safe drinking water and sanitation to all so that we can hand over a better planet to out children who are the future of this world. So today on Blog Action Day let's think up ways to achieve our goal. My blog may be a drop in the ocean of thousands of bloggers but like the title says Every Drop Counts, so i am doing my bit. Here's hoping that today will bring about a radical change for the Water Challenge.