Becks in the City

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Tag: cancer prevention

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.”

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

The 10 Changes I’ve Made Since Becoming Cancer Free

20643275_10159506323540221_103051546048746514_oIn two days, it will be exactly 6 months since I had my breast cancer surgery – a bilateral mastectomy to be precise. It has been one big ole crazy journey and I guess one that will not end anytime soon. The reason doctors generally don’t say, ‘You’ve been cured’ and prefer the term ‘cancer-free’ is because once you’ve had the disease, you are at greater risk from getting a recurrence (though the likelihood does lessen as time goes on).

This little piece of knowledge could really depress me if I let it. I could constantly be on edge, checking myself daily for any changes, getting paranoid from the tiniest niggle or ache but I choose not to. Instead, I am seeing the opportunities to live a healthier, fuller and more fulfilling life. I am embracing the gifts cancer gave me.

My life has already changed dramatically since 28th April 17 when I was officially charged with DCIS and invasive breast cancer. As I lean into the changes that I know I need, I vindicate my spirit and choose to live life on my terms.

I am now…


  1. F25158435_10160085984140221_8269649721085243961_nollowing a plant-based lifestyle. Most people who know me, see that I now follow a plant-based diet. This means different things to different people but what it means for me is that I no longer eat meat or dairy but instead, my diet is filled with natural produce from the earth and fish for my essential fatty acids & vitamin B12 (although I am working on weening fish out in 2018).


  1. Minimising social chatter. Those who know me on Facebook or Instagram, may have noticed that I am not as present as I used to be, that’s because I have deleted these apps from my phone. Oh my gosh! This has been a Godsend! My clarity of thought has improved, I do not get anxious as easily, I am much more focused and I get more done! After all, did we not have rich and fulfilled lives before the existence of these mediums?
  1. Avoiding toxic people. You can just smell them before they enter the room. They stare at you, beckoning you into their poisonous atmosphere. I am having none of it! If I suspect you are carrying bad vibes in your aura, I’m gone to tomorrow. There is not much worse than allowing a soul vampire to suck your positive energy dry.
  1. Indulging in music therapy. My soul has been soothed with some serious vocal and musical delights this year. I have attended quite a few of ‘Reed Bass Presents’ events this autumn. I cannot tell you how cathartic these sessions have been. I have sat there, sometimes with tears flowing down my face as the melodies and the golden voices of vocalists such as Nat Chards, Ola Brown and Sapphire Sings reached my core and coerced me to feel emotions again and released the numbness I used for protection.
  1. Being mindful of my thoughts. I am not going to sit here and pretend that everything is ‘cook & curry’ (as many Jamaicans would say. Meaning ‘everything is okay’); it’s not. I have had some really dark days (and still do), when I allow my mind to think about the dire possibilities i.e. the cancer returning, having to have another operation or worse still, leaving my daughter without a mum. Or sometimes, I try and reconcile what has happened to me. Some days I still find it difficult to believe that I had cancer. It’s weird. But lately I have had to remind myself of the energies that I am attracting when I think about these things. I believe that you attract the energy you focus on the most. I want to live a life that is full of fun experiences, magical moments and lots of happiness. Therefore, I actively choose to think about the endless positive experiences coming my way, in order to think the right elements into existence.

workout-1931107_12806. Partaking in Pilates classes. I used to think holistic classes such as Yoga and Pilates were boring. As a former Zumba instructor, I was used to loud music, high impact jumping and pumping. That certainly has its place, however what has been so lovely about Pilates is that I have been able to show kindness to my body whilst still challenging it. It’s going to be a while before I can bounce (I’m still healing from the operation), so Pilates offers me a way of staying toned in a way that will not interfere with my healing. Plus, the relaxing environment and serenity leave me feeling renewed and chilled out.

  1. Not caring so much about what people think about me. I have just gone through the most traumatic experience of my life and for the most part, I was very public about it (as it helped me to deal with the enormity of it all). Compared to this, most previously little stressful events, now feel like an ant scratching a giant’s foot. They just aren’t relevant.

25182113_10160077279240221_5819973162538717592_o8. Being completely present when playing with my daughter. Prior to my diagnosis, I was guilty of utilising a double consciousness when spending so called ‘quality time’ with my daughter. Half my mind was in the activity in which we were engaged and the other half was in: work, my list of chores, who I needed to email next, etc… It wasn’t fair on her. Now, I put down my phone, turn off the TV, I actively listen to all the important words coming out of her mouth and I dedicate chunks of time when I am completely hers. What played in my mind many times when I first found out I had cancer was ‘I can’t leave her.’ So why would I choose to be here and not be present in her life now?


  1. Meditating. I am very conscious of the fact that stress can lower the immune system and that when it is lowered, you are at greater risk from getting a disease. So, meditation offers a great way to de-stress. When all is quiet, I sit on my sofa or bed, switch off the lights and either listen to some meditation music, or sit in silence. This leaves me feeling clear of the brain fog and much more relaxed. I have on occasion, woken up with very stiff crossed legs.
  1. Following my dreams. When I was at my mum’s house recovering for weeks on end, I spent a lot of time thinking about what I really wanted to do. For a few months after that, I dismissed those things as pipe dreams but now that I have started to seriously focus on that which I truly desire, I’m already starting to reach for those dreams. I am not saying much now but I will say: You’d better keep watching this space. 😊 


***If you want to keep up with my continued journey to stay cancer-free, subscribe to this blog below. ***

Blowing Darkness a Goodbye Kiss

Thailand 2007

Bangkok 2007

I am my own angel but never knew it! I wrote this poem back in 2007. Ten years ago! I wonder if I had followed my own advice to the letter, if I would have still been diagnosed with breast cancer? Perhaps I felt I was too radical at the time and was just being a conspiracy theorist.

I don’t support everything I wrote back then. For instance, I no longer eat meat and I am very respectful of medical professionals in general. Their knowledge, skills and understanding around cancer, saved my life. However, I know there is a lot of truth to the research I did. What I am saying is, that when profit-making is connected to our health and well-being, there has to be adequate levels of supply and demand. We just need to be informed so that we remain healthy individuals and not merely bodies from which our illness make corporations billions of pounds yearly. 

Read it, and take away what you need.

Blowing Darkness a Goodbye Kiss

by Rebbecca Hemmings 2007 (c) 

Recently I made a decision

If you let it, the system will kill you

And I’m not ready to go, so

I’m on a natural tip

No more cows’ milk; its Soya all the way

The taste is an acquired one

But preferable to decay


The caffeine that used to get me hyper

Has now all but disappeared

Recent reports say it causes stunted growth

Now I’m not the tallest person in the world so

I guess the damage has been done

But bun that cos I’m more informed now

We’re eating goat, we’re savouring  lamb,

Yamming foul, consuming ham

Cancer causing carcinogens

Make your blood cark, it’s dark!


Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss


I’d be lying if I said I don’t eat meat, Chicken is the one!

Giving that up ain’t no easy feat

I have to work on them one by one

But the levels of consumption

Have seriously depleted,

One more step to getting the pharmaceuticals defeated


Cos you understand that don’t you?

It’s important you understand

If we all lead a natural lifestyle

We’d be taking money from the man

You understand?

They make billions from the tablets, and the medicines we digest

They don’t want you to get better

“Take these pills and get plenty of bed rest”


Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss


Yeah I did it, I got a colonic

My system needed to purge

I was turning bionic

Cos what had happened was

My system had overloaded

With the chemicals that had invaded my flesh

I started to imagine me eroded

The monosodium glutamate and the starchy Acrylamide

The mercury and the arsenic

Not forgetting the sulphur dioxide,


If the chemicals were black they’d be up for attempted murder

But their in their nice bright pretty container

Buying them seems to be a no brainer


Now I’m not preaching

I suppose I’m just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss


So I’ve taken my body back from the powers that be

Giving her what she deserves

To be treated nicely

She likes it, so in return she pays me back

With energy, sprite and immaculate health

And a body to be proud of

I’m telling you boy, I love my new self.

Can’t say I don’t miss certain things

Coco bread and pattie

I have to put them to rest

But at least I know the black stuff

Will find it harder to reach my breast


We wonder why we’re all getting fat

Well we all know who has a hand in that.

Just stop the wheel, and get the hell off!

You and your children are in danger

Don’t  tell me seh me never warn you

When your body becomes a stranger

Treat your body right and look after your own

They rely on you not knowing

How do you think the Stock Exchange has grown?


Don’t take my word for it, do your research

But I’m telling you

You will find, if you search

Well time for me to go now,

Go drink some herbal tea, its criss

But before I go, please acknowledge this


I really wasn’t preaching

I suppose I was just teaching

Blowing darkness a goodbye kiss

Breaking news; ignorance is not bliss


You can see me perform this on Youtube here







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