Wishing friends and loved ones, old and new, near and far, the very best of Christmases. May your stockings be filled with joy, laughter, song, cheer, magic, peace and love and a sackful of HO HO Hope. Thank you for all your support and prayers and wishes throughout the year. #attitudeofgratitude. xxx
So I’m a gonna sling on me wings, shake out the glitter, mount my dragon and ride full speed towards Christmas.
Oh YES I will!!!!
Love you all xxx
January 18 2018 Cecil sharp house, 7.30pm
tickets from Cecil sharp house
So, last month was Lung Cancer Awareness month, was it? Oh dear, sorry I wasn’t aware of it. My invite must have got lost in the post!
But, better late than never. So, here I go:
Lung Cancer is THE biggest cancer killer of men and women in the UK.
Every 15 minutes someone dies of lung cancer.
Over 45,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer (that’s around 130 per day) and over 35,000 patients die from it each year – more than breast, bowel, bladder and uterine cancer combined.
Yet it receives only 7% of research funding.
This is down to the stigma that surrounds the disease due to associations with smoking. Those with lung cancer experience more judgement than people with other cancers, the first question rather than being “I am sorry . . is there anything I can do . . can I help? is “did you smoke?”
Lung cancer does not confine itself to smokers. The average age for someone to be diagnosed with Lung cancer is around 70. But every year more people are receiving diagnoses younger and younger, and often they have never smoked in their lives. 1 in 7 cases are not linked to smoking. Yet 1 in 4 people surveyed have less sympathy for lung cancer patients than any other cancer.
This is the late AA Gill’s view:
“There is little sympathy for lung cancer. It’s mostly men, mostly old men, mostly working-class old men and mostly smokers. There is a lot more money and public sympathy for the cancers that affect women and the young. Why wouldn’t there be?”
The Roy Castle Foundation write:
“The stigma of smoking is one that continues to haunt lung cancer patients. It is the cancer you caused yourself, you got what you deserve.”
“Smoking is the primary cause of lung cancer. We know that, we aren’t trying to disguise that fact. The problem is people with lung cancer are therefore vilified, made to feel like they deserved this awful disease because they choose to smoke – even those who have never smoked a single cigarette in their lives.
Let’s be honest, the villains of this piece are the tobacco manufacturers and the Government’s inaction on smoking is allowing them to escape unharmed. The same cannot be said for its consumers and we are now worried, at a time where there is so much fear surrounding our over-stretched health and social care system, that lung cancer patients will be ostracised further.” Paula Chadwick CEO Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation
I myself have smoked in the past. And no one can make me feel more guilty about that than I did, let me tell you. Even when I was told that the type of lung cancer with which I was diagnosed was not caused by smoking, it was a bitter sweet revelation, and let’s be honest, it can’t have helped. But to fail to fairly fund research into detection, screening, treatments etc due to prejudice seems to be almost inhuman. The nature of life is such that we mortals do do things that are not good for us, we drink, we smoke, we take drugs, we over eat, we don’t excercise etc etc, and that all has health consequences, do we stand by and judge everyone and smear them with prejudice? If a person has skin cancer, are they blamed or shamed because they didn’t use sunscreen?
Every year thousands of people are dying from lung cancer, and maybe we don’t all need to! So, do check yourself out if you have concerns. We need to raise awareness of the disease and inequality surrounding funding for lung cancer, to motivate the government to address the shortcomings, welcome early screening initiatives, and extinguish prejudice.
“An awful lot of people don’t survive lung cancer; an awful lot of people survive other forms of cancer that have been given funding. If more funding was given to lung cancer, more people would survive. It’s up to the MPs – they’re the ones with their hands on the purse-strings that can sort this out and save our lives” Tom, 48, living with lung cancer.
“Nobody deserves to get lung cancer.
They should not be made to feel ashamed. They should not feel like they need to justify their illness or their life choices. They are so much more than their diagnosis. They are people. They matter.
They can hold their #HeadHigh.” ( RCLCF)
The shocking truth is only 38% of people diagnosed with Lung cancer survive a year or more. Largely this is due to the fact that many cases are diagnosed too late. If you suspect that you are showing symptoms don’t bury your head in the sand, get checked out and maybe you will be giving yourself a fighting chance.
The most common symptoms of lung cancer are:
- a cough for three weeks or more
- a change in a cough you’ve had for a long time
- a chest infection that doesn’t get better, or repeated chest infections
- feeling breathless and wheezy for no reason
- coughing up blood
- chest or shoulder pain that doesn’t get better
- a hoarse voice for three weeks or more.
Other possible symptoms are:
- losing weight for no obvious reason
- feeling extremely tired (fatigue)
- the ends of fingers change shape – they may become larger or rounded (clubbing).
If you have any of these symptoms, it‘s important to have them checked by your GP.
Breathe in – we have lung cancer. It’s hard enough without the stigma. Don’t ignore us!
What would you do if you were diagnosed with a terminal disease?
In September 2016, after surviving a sudden life-threatening illness, actress Leah Bracknell heard the shocking words we all dread.
“Sorry. You have stage 4 cancer”
With no option of surgery, ‘palliative’ chemotherapy was all that was offered to her.
Based on her blog somethingbeginningwithc.com – Leah shares her remarkable and inspiring story of learning to live with a terminal illness. Drawing upon her experience as an actor, yoga teacher and shamanic healer, she shines a light on the human spirit’s power and capacity to be extraordinary, even in the darkest of circumstances. Discovering transformation, wonder, hope, joy, possibility, positivity, and beauty along the way.
“I chose to cultivate a relationship with my disease. To ask it: why are you here? And what have you to teach me? I discovered that when I ceased regarding cancer as my enemy and looked beyond the fear, it gave me the opportunity to embark on a profound personal healing journey, emotionally and spiritually that has transformed my whole outlook on life.
Having cancer has restored a deep appreciation and gratitude for my life. It has been an awakening. Cancer has been my greatest challenge, but also my greatest teacher, one that has rekindled my passion for life. It has taught me that a life well lived is the best medicine, that we can all be the alchemists of our own “healing”, whatever the outcome, and that life is not merely about existing or surviving, but thriving with a capitol T.
Cancer has given me back my life.”
This is an experiential event and you will be able participate in some of the healing practices: meditations, visualisations etc that Leah uses on her journey to assist you with your own.
“Having cancer or any serious illness can be a dark, frightening and lonely road. So, let’s walk it together, standing tall, side by side, hand in hand.”
WHEN: January 18th 2018 7.30pm
TICKETS: £19 and £14.50
WHERE: Venue and Booking : Cecil Sharp House, 2 Regent’s Park Road, London NW1 7AY
Leah Bracknell, mother of two, actress, yoga instructor, shamanic healer was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer in September 2016, after suffering a near fatal pericardial effusion. She has worked in TV and theatre for forty years, from Shakespeare to panto and is best remembered for her role as Zoe Tate in Emmerdale. A yoga instructor for over a decade, she has taught workshops around the country and at the Yoga Show, MBS, Wilderness Festival, and Mind Body Soul Exhibitions and written for Om Yoga Magazine, Yoga Magazine, Spectrum, her teaching has been widely featured in the press, including This Morning, Lorraine, BBC Radio. She has released 2 DVDs Yoga & You and Yoga for Life. In 2010 she underwent an intensive Shamanic practitioner training.
You can read more of Leah’s work on her blog Somethingbeginningwithc.com
If I can wake each morning with a prayer of gratitude in my heart, and close each day with the same, I know I am living well.
If I can acknowledge all the blessings and gifts that come my way, now, yesterday and tomorrow, it blows away the cobwebs of fear and grief and confusion and despair, and my life feels sweeter and richer than never before.
If I can plant the seed of hope in the garden of my soul, and nourish it with love and compassion, and fertilise it with forgiveness, and water it with the sweet cleansing rain of faith, trust and belief, then I will witness how it flourishes and grows and reaches its roots deep into my heart and every cell of my being, and blossoms in the winter of my yesterdays lost and blooms on the horizon of tomorrow, with the gift of divine grace and beauty, until my spirit soars like an eagle high above the mountains of the Sierra Madre.
If I can remember that each step I take is supported by a thousand ancestors, then I need never fear being alone, abandoned or forgotten. No matter where the path leads.
If I understand that everything happens for a reason it colours my experience with the understanding that all challenges we face are an opportunity to learn and grow, to heal what we have ignored, to love harder, live more passionately, to serve more gracefully, to reach out and join hands with those who need a friend, and to take the hand of those who reach out to us. To embrace life, to embrace one another, build bridges where the way is blocked, and honour this wonderful earth, our Mother, our home.
I have awoken with a fire in my belly, a good fire, one that speaks of life, a beacon in the dark, and if I place it on a high enough peak perhaps you can see it, perhaps it can light a flame in your heart, and when you feel its warmth, then you may be able to light one too, to pass it on, for each of us can be a light in the dark for someone else, and someone else, and someone else, until there is a chain of golden light shining far and wide connecting us one to another. Encircling us in our connection not our disparity, healing not dividing, loving not hating.
If I remember that it is not personal, that the universe is not out to punish me or anyone, that I have not offended god, I have not been bad in a previous life, but that the nature of existence for every inhabitant of this incredible planet: human, animal, plant, mineral, follows the natural order of birth, life and death. At least in the physical and material sense. Then I see that it is not a matter of justice or injustice, it just is. And our spirit sings the song of our soul long before we understood that we had chosen to come here, and our story will echo in the hearts of those we touch long after our job here is done, like a whisper to those who come after us for generations to come. When we become the ancestors who guide the way.
I had the honour and privilege this week of sharing a beautiful and profoundly moving ceremony dedicated to honouring our ancestors and those who have passed, sitting in circle with our dear sister and brother from Mexico and friends old and new to celebrate el Dia de Muertos – The Day of the Dead.
In a teepee, in a field, under the stars, surrounded by pigs, the call of the owls disturbed by this unexpected nocturnal intrusion piercing the quiet, we gathered together to pray.
In the centre the fire unites us, one to another, and carries our prayers back in time to those who have departed, melting the boundries of life and death. To be able to acknowledge the gift our ancestors have given us, through the living of their lives, generation after generation, their stories flowing in our veins if not our memories, their successes, their failures, their struggles, their joys, to be able to thank them, to weep for them, is a truly humbling experience. One that is not merely about mourning, but celebrating and honouring. And more than that, it is about remembering, even those we didn’t know for they live in us, and feeding them with love.
The altar was resplendent in offerings of flowers, favourite foods, candles, fruits, interspersed with pictures of loved ones. Sacred songs were shared, and beautiful, healing prayers offered to Grandfather fire, with Mother Earth, the stars, the moon, and each other as witness to this moment of beauty. A moment in time in which all our stories weave together across space and time, one unique moment never to be repeated, where we become one with each other and all that is the great mystery of life. To be able to make a prayer of gratitude, to give thanks before and above all else is, I have discovered , one of the most powerful medicines I know. I realise prayer, is not merely for demanding what I want or feel I need when the chips are down or when the horse has bolted, but is a doorway to connect with something which unites and inspires, and transcends the material, the mundane, the profane, and gives voice to the person I aspire to be.
So, if I may, on this beautiful, mysterious, misty morning, I’d like to share my morning prayer with you:
To all our relations, those who have walked before us, and those who will come after, to our allies and guides who walk with us in invisible realms, Thank You.
Thank you for my life. Thank you for my health. Thank you for guiding me and giving me strength and inspiring me each day.
Thank you for my beautiful family, my husband, my mother, my children, my friends far and wide, I pray that you watch over them, keep them well, protect them, give them strength when they feel weak, inspiration when they are lost, and keep the flame of hope alive always in their hearts. I pray they feel loved when they are alone, and that they see and know the beauty of their spirit.
Thank you for all the support and prayers with which I have been blessed, and I pray that I have the grace and humility to truly accept them. And that I may find a way to honour them in return. I give thanks for the ceremonies that have been held in my honour and for those who prayed for me there. I thank you. Deeply from the bottom of my heart.
I give deep thanks for the friendship of our brothers and sisters from Mexico, for the journey shared, for their love and prayers, I pray for them, for their healing and protection of their land and their home. Long may our friendship continue. I pray I may return soon.
Thank you for the healings I have received, for all the medicines that I work with, conventional and alternative. For those that are part of my healing journey. For the abundance of food I have to eat. For my home, my shelter, my haven.
Thank you for my feline friends, who sit with me, make me laugh and drive me mad with little “gifts”.
Thank you for showing me the joy in life that once had become hidden from view, which, despite the greatest of challenges, has exploded like a dazzling firework in the darkest night sky, reinstating a profound sense of wonder and awe.
Thank you for teaching me that a life well lived is the best medicine, and that we can be the alchemists of our own healing, that we can chose to be extraordinary, that life is not about merely existing or surviving but about Thriving with a capitol T.
Teach me to be compassionate and forgiving. Not to judge or criticise neither myself or others too harshly.
And remind me to sing and laugh and dance each and every day, if not literally, then let my spirit dance with wild abandon wherever I may find myself.
Thank you for giving me my voice, and for daring me to use it when my instinct would have me hide away and retreat to my cave.
Thank you for helping me to see and to understand why I am here, for giving me meaning and restoring purpose, for showing me how I may continue to be of service in gratitude for the life I have been given.
I pray that we may all remember the song that the stars were singing when we were born, that tell us who we are, how precious we are, and how brilliantly we can shine.
I dedicate this prayer to you, with respect, with gratitude and with love.