Becks in the City

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

Tag: health and wellness

Exiting Safe Mode

Exiting Safe Mode

One Year-ish After my Cancer Diagnosis

I have not written a blog in what seems like forever. Life has simply taken over. In all honesty, I have not really had a chance to sit back and reflect on the past year. The truth is, I have not rested and taken stock. Even when I was recovering from my operation this time last year, I was busy thinking about my business and how I would continue to grow it when I was better. What I have been through is ginormous and maybe it will take years to fully take stock and get my head around what happened. But for now, I will attempt to look back in order to grow forward. 

The short version: I’ve lost and gained friends, I’ve fallen out with and made up with close ones, had a bout of depression, felt lost at times, started to dance again and my daughter started school.

The ‘Okay let’s put a little more effort in’ version:

I’ve settled on being a pesca-vegan – a fish eating vegan (no eggs and dairy) and currently that works for me. I had planned to become an all-out vegan but the limited eating out options are more than I can handle. Like really, I went to an event where I was literally given a dry bowl of cucumber and lettuce for lunch!

My daughter and I have a very special relationship, every day we tell one another just how much we love each other. The other day she told me that when she is older and she is married, she will make sure that we (as in me and her) share a room and her husband will have another room. She makes me smile every single day.

 

 

My visits to the hospital are far less frequent, but they still happen. In fact, I am due to have my first mammogram since my diagnosis. I don’t think about it in any detail. I have learned to take these things at a step at a time. I will think about it on the day. I suppose that’s a good thing, as I’ve learned not to worry about the negative possibilities because if or when they come, I will deal with them in that moment.

I suppose the biggest change in my life now is that I have a part-time job. This is huge for me as I have been anti-employment all my life. I have shouted from the rooftops about the joys of being self-employed. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t given up my businesses, I am still very much in business but I also now have a job working in arts and criminal justice. And do you know what? I love it!  Amongst other wonderful stuff, I enjoy being a part of society, having workmates, being able to go to a Christmas party, having the support of a manager and a whole organisation and having more resources to make a bigger change in the world.

My place of solace has been the gym. I have learned that my body is phenomenal. I now have a new level of super power that I didn’t know existed. I can run faster, pump harder, endure for longer. Even when I think my body is tired, she is set on completing the gruelling workout. I have grown a strange fondness to bootcamp, where tossing tyres, and dragging prison-like weights is actually enjoyable.

My body image. That’s an interesting one. I’m still learning about her but I know I love her. I find myself experimenting with clothes as I learn how to compliment my new shape. I am far from perfect but somehow this hourglass shape has come out of nowhere. I can wear tops that happily circumvent my new curves. I’m allowing myself to be braver with my choices, especially as I realise that I am in the prime of my life.

I guess this post has no flow, other than the order in which this stuff is exiting my brain and entering the screen. I suppose in a way that reflects how my life has been over the last year or so. I have just let it all happen albeit it in safe mode. What I mean by that is that I have just been functioning at a very basic level, enough for me and my daughter to get-by, just like the computer does when it is in safe mode. But I think I’m ready to move on now, I’m ready to be braver, to allow myself to dream, to permit myself to have some real fun and encourage me to celebrate this wonderful life. I’m ready to press ctrl-alt-delete and restart afresh.

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!

meat-1816719_1280

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”

medications-342462_1280

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,

Box-side!

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thrive Urban Food Festival

21230912_10155830679126564_3784113278662208686_nGiven that I am now on a mission to prevent the return of my breast cancer and ensure disease never reaches the body of my daughter (and anyone else that will listen), I was more than happy to accept my friend Petra Foster’s invitation to The Thrive Urban Food Festival. The event took place at The Bond which is a canal side, hip and trendy events venue in Birmingham, UK on 3rd September 2017.

The event’s copy promised: a courtyard streetfood market, a market hall, fitness sessions, wellness classes, high profile speakers and panel sessions throughout the day. It certainly delivered upon it’s promise and the fact that it was family friendly was a major selling feature for me.

Personal highlights include: the live cookery demonstration from blogger Niki from Rebel Recipes. She made a Cauliflower and Peas Stew with a  coconut chutney. Of course, we got the opportunity to taste the results of her labour; it was very flavoursome -especially the coconut chutney. It’s the type of dish I would make on a cold autumn evening. Vegan comfort food.

P1020833

Mindfulness for Children was a session run by Meraki Workshops. On arrival younger children were encouraged to colour in sheets which encouraged mindfulness and self- awareness. At age 4, my daughter was a little too young to understand the concept of the brain and its functions (although they were beautifully described). However, I loved watching how engrossed the other children were as they created their glitter jars, shook them and watched the particles settle like the thoughts in their mind when they indulge in moments of stillness. 

By far my favourite aspect of the day were the talks. Particularly that of Nutritional Therapist & Health Concierge Daniela Lawler. She led a session on children and nutrition. It was packed full of information that could serve people of all ages such as: The fact that many people in this country (and especially those with darker skins), lack Vitamin D. This prevents the body from absorbing calcium. Without it, we are susceptible to a wide range of health difficulties including: diseases, cognitive impairment and asthma. It got me thinking about it being a possible cause of my cancer.

Also, Potassium Sorbate, Anthocyanins, citric acid, acesulfame and sucralose are all on the label of the popular children’s drink: Fruit Shoot and they are also E numbers. She stated that manufacturers have gotten around the loophole of having the list any E numbers by calling them by their other chemical names. Shocking! 

She packed so much information into the session that there wasn’t time remaining at the end for questions (though she spoke to individuals outside afterwards). I honestly did not mind though, as I thought the knowledge she shared was  valuable and eye-opening. If I wanted to know more, I could do as she suggested and the research documents she would send for being a new member of her mailing list. 

Other smaller (but just as significant) features of the day were: being convinced that I could eat and like pecan nuts by the charming gentleman of True North. I tasted the Almond Pecan Crunch and consequently brought a pack. 

Cakes & Ish sold a mouth-drooling mushroom curried pattie. I had to track them down on Facebook to find out where I could buy more.

The £10 (worth £20) goody bag sold by Thrive was well worth money. It was a great way to try a load of new and exciting P1020832snacks, teas and other nutritionally kind products without having to rob the bank to do so. As, I have to be frank and say that I found some of the prices in the market hall substantially higher than I felt necessary. The Salted Caramel Coconut Peaks by Inspirational and the Maple and Cinnamon Roll protein balls by DC Wholefoods were delectable and very energising! I will be buying more! 

So well done Thrive Festival, you have found yourself a repeat customer. I look forward to the next event! 

 

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