Becks in the City

Sing with me :"From yu wake up dis marnin, you's a winner!"

Category: cancer

For the Cancer Patients of the Future

Me, my daughter and mum at The Race for Life Sutton Coldfield in 2014. Little did I know I would get breast cancer 3 years later.

Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer. To tell you it was a shock is an understatement. I was only 40 years old, healthy and very fit. As a result, I received a unilateral mastectomy with reconstruction. I am very pleased to say that today I am cancer-free.

I am very aware that I am at risk of getting the disease again but I live in hope that it was just a blip in my life and that I will go on to live for many happy years and continue to raise my beautiful daughter.

It seems as though weekly, I am hearing about more and more cancer diagnoses. It is like the modern-day plague. Cancer has blighted human beings for centuries but through research, lives have been and are being saved and prolonged. Who knows, years from now a cure might be found? It is because of the diligent work of people that came before me, that I received life-saving surgery. It is a hard pill to swallow to acknowledge that had I not been treated early or spotted the signs early, that I might not be here to tell this story today.

I would like to know I played an active role in making progress happen for people who are diagnosed with cancer in the near and distant future and that is why I am running the Race for Life.

I would really appreciate your support (no matter how small). If you would like to do so, please visit my fundraising page.   

Thank you xxx

In loving memory of Erica Durant 22.9.81 – 12.3.18 xxx

Chasing Dreams

Can I be honest with you?

This last year has been the toughest period of my 41 years. When teaching Zumba, I met quite a few ladies who had gone through Breast Cancer (some, unfortunately are no longer with us). I thought I vaguely understood the challenges of the disease; I had no idea. With numerous surgeries, limited movement, feeling depressed but still having to take care of my little girl, it was A LOT to deal with.

Don’t worry, the story gets better. As you may know, I am usually a glass half full kind of girl. I have challenged myself back to a place of happiness with lots of ‘be kind to myself’ moments that include, Afternoon Tea in a prestigious London Hotel, weekend breaks and a recent trip to Costa Blanca.

I have taken the time to focus on aligning myself with my purpose which is to help others live happy, healthy and successful lives. That has led me to making the announcement I about to make.  Taking my experiences as: a business woman of 20 years, a motivational fitness instructor, a student of personal development and of life, I have now officially been trained as a Life Coach!

I am bubbling with excitement as I have already helped some amazing people reach their goals. Given my experiences my specialist areas are: coaching single mums who want to start businesses and working with people who are overcoming major adversity in their lives.

You can read much more about my coaching here. I really would just like to take this time to ask you a question. Currently, I have space on my Elevation Coaching programme for one more person: who do you know who is ordinarily a go-getter, perhaps a single mum or who has just come through major adversity who at this moment, is facing the challenge of transitioning to her latest goal?

Please do put her in touch with me for a FREE chat.

This is indeed a very exciting time for me as I am yielding to my life’s purpose and it feels wonderful.  I am committed to sharing these positive vibrations, so I ask you: What steps can you take today towards chasing your dreams? Go on, make a comment and name your prize. Write it into existence.

Don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE to this blog (look up and to the right) to be stay inspired. 

 

 

 

 

Strategic Objective: Stay Alive! When Positive Thinking is not Enough

Always look on the bright side of life.”

“Wake up and smell the roses.”

“See the glass as half full instead of half empty.”

These popular sayings are designed to help us to get out of our ‘funky’ states, to awaken the go-getter within us and help us live peaceful happy lives. Believing in such sayings and adopting a positive mindset can and does help people through life’s small challenges as usually, those who think positively have a problem-solving outlook on life. This is a wonderfully useful trait to possess, but positive thinking alone has its limitations.

Looking back now, it was a pretty green way of looking at things but thinking positively was my default way of dealing with life in most instances. I often chose to see the good, hardly ever focusing on the negative and took a very optimistic approach to life. This was how I wired, I believed in this even before I started reading the Anthony Robbins, Dr Phill and Jack Canfield self-development books. Being this way, served its purpose on many an occasion. I still do lean towards a more favourable outcome in most instances, but now I am wiser.

Positive thinking can do the very opposite of what you want. You see, if you always believe only good can happen, you then become blind to (or choose not to see) the not so great stuff that takes place. I am hesitant to use the word ‘bad’ because the word conjures up something that is negative and has no use. I believe that uncomfortable or painful (more useful words) situations are there to teach us something.

I am talking about problems that cause deep angst, extreme pain, worry and hurt, such as: dealing with the loss of a business, becoming bankrupt, losing a baby, coping with the end of a relationship, struggling with ill-health, facing severe self-hate, facing a cancer diagnosis etc… You know what your pain is. Whatever that pain is, it is there to tell you something, if you will just listen.

It was clear to me from very early on after my cancer diagnosis, that I needed to take control of my thoughts and go beyond believing that as long as I adopted good thoughts, everything would be okay. This was too damn important to switch off and become blind to my predicament.

My business mind clicked into place as soon as I knew what I was dealing with. I kept at the forefront, the vision: I want a future with me in it. I then had to (with the help of the surgeons) create an effective strategy that was robust and had a high chance of success. I did my due diligence in between hospital appointments and researched the hell out of DCIS and invasive ductal carcinoma, with and without metastasis, with and without chemotherapy, with and without radiation.

It was important for me to do the risk assessment, know what the possible hazards are and have plans put in place to tackle any unfortunate outcome. I created a business plan for my life and my possible untimely death.

I believe people create their own luck by great preparation and good strategy.

Jack Canfield

This was strategic thinking working its ass off! I had kicked its predecessor ‘positive thinking’ to the kerb. I needed a method that was realistic in its assessment of the moment, forward thinking and laser focused on the goal.

My leadership skills faced their ultimate challenge. Keep Rebbecca alive!

My Version of Beautiful

The Best Birthday Yet!

26th February 2018 was my 41st birthday. I’m not shy in stating my age, in fact I am proud. I would happily shout it from my roof top, if I could access it.

This time last year, even before cancer reared its ugly head, I was not in a great place. Though my business was in great shape and doing the things I had always asked for, I was stressed and overworked. Honestly speaking, I would have preferred to spend my birthday in bed rather than with my friends and family at a restaurant bringing in the big ole’ 4-0. I was just so tired!

Then came the diagnosis in April 17. Two blood spots, alerted me to the fact that something was up. Had I not seen those breast cancer signs, as my doctor at the time said, I might not be here in a year’s time. Did you get that? If I had ignored those tiny droplets of blood on my nightdress, I might be dead today!

Whilst I have shared parts of my journey publicly, I certainly did not share it all. I tried to be as uplifting as possible. Not just for others but for me too. I needed to hang onto hope. I needed to know that I had a future. But there were some seriously dark days (particularly before the results of my operation), when I just didn’t know what the future held. It was awful! I had never been in a position where I wasn’t able to plan for the future. 

As a result, I felt beat-down, unwanted, melancholy, terrified, overwhelmed and defeated by life.  

Cut to a year later, I’M ALIVE!

Life now feels: surreal, beautiful, humbling, happy, expectant, positive, peaceful and gratifying. It can be likened to a scene I saw today from the movie ‘The Shape of Water’, where two lovers (albeit one is a humanoid amphibian) embrace as they gently float underwater. In that moment, nothing exists but the love they share which is all encompassing and enchantingly beautiful.

Today, I feel nothing exists but the new version of my life which houses: my much-matured sense of self-worth and compassion, the people who matter most, the here & now and the exciting vision I have of my future.

The celebration is lasting almost a week. Yes, although the date has passed, it’s still ongoing. Much of it has involved quiet reflection and checking-in on where I am. Sunday 25th February was the highlight as I gracefully enjoyed high tea was with my soul sisters Rachel and Toni at the Café Royal Hotel in London. The photo speaks for itself about the opulence and regal decor. We even left with a gift of a Diptyque candle – oh the fragrance! I had a day I know I truly deserve. One fit for a queen!

This birthday epitomises the outlook I now have on life. No, it won’t be perfect but for every single moment that I am on this earthing taking breath, I am going to do everything in my power to ensure it is my version of beautiful.

Therefore, every day is my birthday in my mind.

 

Did Stress Give Me Cancer?

                           My state of mind prior to my diagnosis

 

I had cancer, right? The question I had to ask myself is: why was I able to get cancer? What was it about the conditions in my body that enabled this disease to take hold of my healthy cells and ultimately lead to me losing a part of my body? So, I embarked on a journey of research. I wanted to know how to prevent recurrences in the future.

Back in prehistoric times, stress was an essential part of human biology. We were vulnerable against the elements, which could cause natural disasters and we were also at risk from being taken down by predators. The body has an inbuilt system that helps us to avoid being eaten, attacked or destroyed. When in danger, the body has physiological responses such as pumping more blood to the heart and/or the muscles. These responses then help us to either run for our lives or stay and fight. The body can even enhance the immune system to help prepare wounds quickly. It’s the well-known fight or flight response. However, our bodies were not designed to endure long periods of stress. Consequently, what happens when the body experiences long-term stress, it takes its toll on our immune system.

This is the scientific bit now. Stay with me as this is important!

Corticosteroids are hormones which are made in the adrenal cortex.  What does that mean? 

Essentially, steroids (naturally produced in the body) reduce inflammation and suppress the immune system. You may have heard of synthetic steroids being used for a variety of reasons such as reducing pain for people with arthritis and lupus. They can also help with hay fever and eczema. The fact that they help to reduce inflammation, makes synthetic steroids useful for the body (these steroids are not to be confused with  anabolic steroids which are often used by body builders to gain muscle mass).

However, as I said, corticosteroids also lower the immune system. The immune system, when working correctly, is our friend. No scrap that, it is our life-saver. It fights infections on our body’s behalf by using leukocytes (also known as white blood cells). There are different types of white blood cells such as T Cells, and B Cells. T Cells can also be referred to as killer cells as they destroy antigens (foreign substances that invade our tissues and subsequently lower our immune systems).

When experiencing chronic stress (stress over a long period of time), corticosteroids are released into the blood stream. This in turn, lowers our immune system and we are prone to contracting diseases that our cells struggle to eliminate. With cancer specifically, T cells are usually our soldiers that go out and destroy the rogue cells.

 

T cells have the important role of assessing whether cells are healthy or potentially harmful; if a harmful antigen is detected, T cells spring into action and trigger an immune response, activating other immune cells to immediately target and kill the pathogens. This also leads to the development of antibodies, which recognise pathogens with the same antigens if they are encountered again in the future, meaning they can be rapidly targeted.”

Breastcancernow.org

This begs the question, what the hell happens to T-cells when cancer rears its ugly head? Why do they not kill the cancer cells like they are supposed to? From what I can see, there is a lot of debate around this area but one thing most clinical professionals seem to agree on, is that it is because cancer cells are clever. If the cancer cells sense danger, they can change the way they look or even become invisible to the t-cells so they cannot be spotted and consequently destroyed. If cancer wasn’t such an evil, destructive beast, I might hold it in admiration and marvel at its genius.

In my quest to identify why I got cancer, finding out of these facts concerning the immune system’s response to stress, makes a lot of sense to me. I had let stress become a part of my family. It took up residence in my body, made itself at home and wreaked havoc and I let it. I let it because I didn’t think it was much of an issue. Everyone gets stressed, right? I thrive off tight deadlines and pressured environments, that how I get stuff done. Maybe if these occurrences were occasional, that would have been fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a little stress occasionally to help you get stuff done. But to have it show up daily, from the moment you wake up ‘til when you go to bed, it’s a problem.

It is scientifically proven that it can harm you physically. I’ve only spoken about how stress affects the immune system in detail, but like I say it can detrimental implications to the rest of your body too. Why do many of us not take this seriously enough? 

So, did stress give me cancer? I can’t prove it – no one can but I strongly suspect it had a significant role to play in me contracting the disease. 

 

This blog is an excerpt from my forthcoming book: The Gifts that Cancer Gave Me

Olive Oil vs Rapeseed Oil

Last night I was speaking on Facebook Live in my Living on Purpose 2018 group about plant-based eating, and some really interesting topics arose. One such subject was around the types of oils we use to cook. In particular, we spoke about what we perceived to be the benefits (or not) of Rapeseed oil. My knowledge on it was very sketchy but what I did know was that Rapeseed oil has a high smoke point. This is a positive attribute because it means that it can be cooked at high temperatures without breaking down. Once it breaks down, it loses its health benefits and can actually become toxic and carcinogenic (cancer causing). But admittedly, I didn’t know much more beyond this.

Olive Oil has long been touted as a healthy oil but again, I could categorically tell you why. So, today I set about doing some research and this is what I found:

Olive Oil vs Rapeseed Oil

Personally, I need to be drizzling extra virgin olive oil on my salads for those antioxidant polyphenols. But as for my cooking, it has to be Rapeseed oil all the way, mainly due to its high smoke point. What’s the point having a so-called healthy oil, if it becomes toxic when heated? Which do you prefer?

Bangin’ Joints & Cancer

I remember about 2 weeks before my mastectomy surgery, I was getting ready for a party. It’s was my friend Petra’s 20170520_220419 40th birthday so it was a big deal. I was looking forward to celebrating with her. I knew there would great people, tasty food and some bangin’ joints (just to be clear that means ‘extra good music’, not any other kind of joint). I hadn’t been out for a few months prior to this night and I was particularly keen to release some tension on the dance floor (I love to dance) as the last few weeks had been considerably taxing mentally.

I had put on my favourite white shorts playsuit, pulled my hair up into a curly bun and was applying my make up in the mirror. I had DJ Milktray playing in the background. He is a motivational DJ from London who knows how to hype up the airwaves. I was swaying whilst applying the finishing touches to my mascara. My mood was that of excitement and ready to par-tay! “You look good” I thought to myself and I admired the image staring back at my entire being.

Then it was if someone had yanked out the plug from my mp3 player, switched the bedroom light off and a shone a harsh spotlight under my chin. You know the kind of lighting that shows up every bump, lump and blemish? For the first time, I looked at myself seriously as all those wonderful feelings fell to the floor like a broken vase and were replaced by a hunk of dead mass in my insides oozing with the pains of my current situation. “…but you have cancer”. For the first time in 4 weeks, it had finally hit home. I had cancer; it was very real. It whacked me like a mallet to the head.

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