Open Voices Blog

Archives for posts tagged as "cancer"

Mindfulness in Green Spaces

10/28/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This October we share in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Urban green spaces provide opportunities to enjoy natural scenery, relax, sit quietly, commune with others, meditate, pray, or self-reflect. Yet your surroundings, whether a small urban park or a few plants outside your window, aren’t just a backdrop for beneficial activities. The places and spaces we inhabit interact with our bodies and minds in amazing and sometimes imperceptible ways.

Research continues to expand on the mental and physical health benefits of spending time in nature. We are less stressed, more focused, and generally happier when we spend time in the outdoors. Urban green spaces, especially those small pockets of green you find hidden among your neighborhood, can provide a moment of peace and quiet. We know exercise provides innumerable benefits, but so does pausing to appreciate your surroundings and breathing with purpose. In studies investigating benefits of meditation, the list continues to grow:

Lowered heart rate, lowered blood pressure, improved metabolism, improved respiration, improved cognitive functions, longer attention spans and improved perceptual ability, memory, intelligence and empathy 1.

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The Future of Cancer Research

10/21/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This October we share in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In addition to the stress from a cancer diagnosis, decisions like deciding the best treatment plan for your body can be daunting. In our decades-long research battle with cancer, scientists are documenting the outcomes of different treatment options and technology. An unfortunate and documented side effect of chemotherapy is loss in cognitive function and ability to focus and concentrate. And, we know from several studies that those who have recently discovered their cancer diagnosis but not even began chemotherapy already face demands on their attention and cognitive abilities. A few researchers are working to develop breast cancer health interventions to maintain or restore attention capacity during the demanding phases of illness. This research group is studying the effects of a nature-based intervention on the cognitive attention of women newly diagnosed with breast cancer 1.

A woman enjoys a moment in nature

A woman enjoys a moment in nature


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Support Your Immune System

10/14/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This October we share in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

In 2014, about 295,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in U.S. women1 . Receiving a cancer diagnosis is not a welcome life challenge for anyone. Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, exceeded only by lung cancer. The chance that breast cancer will be responsible for a woman’s death is about 3%.

After receiving a breast cancer diagnosis, a patient coordinates with her doctor and other support systems to choose the right treatment options. Undergoing chemotherapy is part of the treatment for most (but not all) breast cancer patients. In the process of killing cancer, chemotherapy also decimates human immune functioning. Patients are more susceptible to other illnesses and simple colds because their body’s defenses are weak. And for some patients in late stages of cancer, the radiation required to combat cancer cells causes more harm than good.

How can everyday natural landscapes contribute to the health and well-being of breast cancer patients and survivors?

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The Rosy Periwinkle in Your Garden

10/09/14 | View Comments

Each month in our Open Voices blog we share insight from leaders in our communities who are advancing what it means to have sacred, open green spaces in our cities. This October we share in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The Rosy Periwinkle (Catharanthus roseus) from Madagascar is a delicate, cheerful flower cultivated worldwide as an ornamental plant. Indigenous healers valued it for its many medicinal properties and Western scientists eventually developed it for pharmaceutical use. This pink flower generates chemical compounds commonly used in chemotherapy to treat several types of cancer, including breast cancer. 
Catharanthus roseus

When we hear mention of a new discovery in cancer research, botanical compounds like the periwinkle’s vinblastine are typical (although not to be taken for granted). But, humans and plants are also interacting in a holistic, environmental exchange at a much larger scale.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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