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KINGSTON, Jamaica - It's hard to imagine that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the darling of the entire Caribbean, has never stepped foot on the sunny islands of The Bahamas.
This May, she intends to change that by taking part in the inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships, and the compact World and Olympic Champion is looking forward to the trip.
Winning four of the past five sprint global titles outdoors in the 100 meters (m), and by adding a 60m indoor title this year, the Jamaican national record holder is unquestionably the number one female sprinter in the world right now. Inclusive of relays, she has eight global gold medals since her OIympic debut in Beijing, China.
Her coach Stephen Francis calls her the greatest female sprinter over 100m in the history of athletics. With the hardware she has racked up in just a short period of time, it would be difficult to dispute that. In short, no other woman has done what she did, particularly in the 100m over the past six years. Still, the 27-year-old petite 'pocket rocket', as she is called by her many fans, remains as humble as ever, while still focussing on getting better.
"I'm driven from the inside and from certain circumstances what happened in my life. I don't pay attention to where I fall in history. I just want to continue to get better, and leave the sport better than I found it," said Fraser-Pryce. "I'm reserved. I try to stay away from being looked at as number one - just try to remain humble and grounded. Even after I won the three gold medals in Moscow (2013 World Championships), when I got back to my room, I was like, 'how am I possibly going to top this'. My husband says that I never enjoy anything, but enjoyment will come in time. I just want to continue to get better, and ensure that other young athletes could see that you need to work hard and you need to stay grounded and focussed to get to the top. The sky is the limit."
Fraser-Pryce leads by example. After pulling up to her morning workout last Thursday in her Mercedes jeep, she turned on her Bob Marley music through her head phones, and then engaged in an intense training session.
Francis, the head coach of the Maximizing Velocity and Power (MVP) Track Club, has the ultimate confidence in her.
"Stephen is a wonderful man. He looks rough, but inside he is soft-hearted," said Fraser-Pryce. "I admire him for the fact that he believes in me so much, and I believe in him as well. It's a two-way thing. For you to reap the rewards, you have to pay attention to the coach. I've always listened to him. He has not guided me wrong.
"I just want to continue to pave the way for the young men and women in our society. There is many more to come from Shelly-Ann. I still want to run 21 seconds, and I still want to go under 10.7, so I am still set on working hard, being grounded, and just trusting God to give me the strength and the health to do the things that I need to do."
Fraser-Pryce has personal best times of 10.70 seconds and 22.09 seconds in the 100 and 200m respectively. The 100m time is a national record for Jamaica. The world record in the century, her best event, is a blistering 10.49 seconds, set by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner 26 years ago.
"If I told you I didn't think about 10.49, I would be lying, but I'm one of those persons who believe that in order for me to think about a 10.49, I would have to get to a 10.6, and I would have to get to a 10.5," she said. "As it stands now, I'm not even at 10.6 yet. Until I get there, I try not to focus on the 10.49.
"I definitely believe in my heart that I'm a 10.6 sprinter, but nothing happens before its time. I just have to continue to work."
Fraser-Pryce said that she's very competitive when pitted against her rivals such as American Carmelita Jeter, but she's friendly as well.
"When we are competing against each other, we would walk past each other and don't say anything, but when we would have finished, we would stop and have a conversation. I would tell her that I admire her and she would say that she admires me, and stuff like that," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's a healthy rivalry. I like running against the U.S. They have been dominant for so many years, but we (Jamaica) are here now, and we have much more success to come."
Fraser-Pryce said that when she first started winning races, she discovered what her potential was, and how much better she could be if she continued to work hard.
"I knew what was expected of me," said Fraser-Pryce. "It's very hard to stay at the top, but you just have to keep working.
"I remember first walking through the tunnel at 'Champs' (Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association Boys and Girls Athletics Championships), and being nervous. This shows how far I have come in the sport. I understand and analyze someone's start, technique, and the amount of power they are getting from the blocks.
"At my first 'Champs' I was very excited. I made final and finished seventh. The adrenaline was flowing, but after the race I was excited and proud. The Olympics has shown you that you need to be calm and relaxed. 'Champs' has paved the way for a lot of us, and for me, it taught me how to handle certain situations."
Coincidentally, 'Champs' wrapped up on Saturday at the national stadium here in Jamaica, two days after the interview. Fraser-Pryce, who represented Wolmer's Girls at 'Champs' during her high school career, even provided a bit of commentary during the five-day meet. Whereas full-time commentating as an analyst is quite possible once her athletic career would have concluded, Fraser-Pryce said that she highly doubts that she would go into coaching, because she sees the stress that Coach Francis go through on a daily basis, and doesn't know if she can go through the same thing. For now, she's just enjoying her time commentating at 'Champs'.
"Champs is just awesome. I really love it and can't help but to make noise. I'm one of those fans who get my nails done in school colors. I'm big on style, and I focus on what I like."
Fraser-Pryce's animated style has translated right over into her senior career. She is always seen on the tour, or at big meets, with an assortment of hair styles which separates her from the rest. As a matter of fact, it was at her hair salon, Chic Hair Ja in Kingston, where she gave the interview to reporters last Thursday.
"It's not just that I love hair, I have a passion to create jobs," she said, vowing to bring in a barber in short order as well. "A lot of young men and ladies in Jamaica have degrees and are sitting at home because there are no jobs. If I can create a business so that other persons can get employment, then that's healthy for me and for Jamaicans."
Despite accomplishing it all outdoors over the past six years outdoors, this year could have a special meaning in Fraser-Pryce's career, in that she has already won the world indoor title in the 60m in her first year running indoors, she could run in the Commonwealth Games for the first time, and she is expected to be competing in the inaugural world relays in what would be her first trip to The Bahamas.
She spoke about how excited she is to be coming to The Bahamas.
"I have no idea of what The Bahamas looks like, but I can't wait to experience the culture and enjoy the championships there," she said. "I like the beach, not so much to go in the water because I can't swim, but just to sit on the beach and drink a martini and chill.
"I just hope that Jamaica fields more than one team because we have the depth. I'm not a huge fan of relays because there is always some controversy as to who will run what leg but this particular event should be a lot of fun. I'm looking forward to it, just going there and getting it done in The Bahamas. Relays are always exciting, and being a part of this first championship is very huge. I would love to be there to see what unfolds."
The world relays is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium.
At home in Jamaica, Fraser-Pryce's typical day is inclusive of her early training session at 6:30 every morning, taking her five-year-old niece to school at times, dropping by the hair salon, going to the gym around midday, getting a massage if needed, and then back for a second workout in the evenings. At times, she would have photo sessions, shoot commercials, and watch a movie if time permits. Her favorite TV shows are the Jamie Foxx and Steve Harvey shows.
As for her Pocket Rocket Foundation, it is geared toward assisting student-athletes in getting scholarships for secondary and tertiary level education.
"We're just trying to alleviate some of the stress and the problems that they face," said Fraser-Pryce. "When I started high school, I was blessed to have a woman assist me financially. She saw something in me that I didn't even see, and started to fund my education, my books, my lunch... everything.
"At that point, I didn't want anyone to feel sorry for Shelly-Ann, but she showed me compassion and love in so many ways and that in a way made me obligated to do the same thing to other athletes who are coming from impoverished situations. They are here, and a lot of their parents can't afford to send them to school so that they could become better individuals."
Fraser-Pryce's foundation gave out seven scholarships to deserving student-athletes last year.
"It has been really remarkable to see the progress that they have made, especially in the school area," said Fraser-Pryce. "We don't just hand out the checks, but be there for them emotionally as well. The foundation has given me a platform to cause a change for young Jamaicans. I just hope to get more sponsors to come on board so that we could give out more scholarships. These young kids are talented and bright.... they are just unable to pay their way through school."
On two of her tattoos, one on each wrist - one has the word 'hope' on it, and the other has the word 'faith' on it.
"I'm big on faith and hope. Everything that I hope for in life, I have faith that God will provide it for me," said Fraser-Pryce. "I still have a lot of work to do to get where I want to go. I understand what hard work does. I just have to remain dedicated and put in the work."
Apart from track and field, Fraser-Pryce said that she has grown to like football and cricket, but has an appreciation for all sports.
The legislation and regulations the government drafted to guide its value-added tax (VAT) regime when it takes effect next July would tax over 80 different professions, cable bills and phone bills for all consumers, and electricity and water bills for businesses.
The Value Added Tax Bill 2013, and the Value Added Tax Regulations 2013, obtained by The Nassau Guardian, propose a flat tax rate of 15 percent on a long list of professional services, utilities and imported goods.
Financial services carried out for a specific fee, many financial transactions and insurance transactions and premiums, except for health and life insurance, will also be subject to VAT.
As has been widely reported, hotel rooms and food and beverage transactions would be taxed at a rate of 10 percent.
Condominiums that are part of a hotel complex, even if they're part of a rental pool, would be taxed as well.
However, some services and goods will be exempt from the new tax.
A variety of breadbasket items, educational institutions, daycare, after school, retirement, medical, and disabled facilities, religious institutions, charitable organizations and the sale or rental of a dwelling not part of a hotel complex would be exempt.
Games of chance, gambling and lotteries would also be exempt.
While the government has drafted over 160 pages of legislation and regulations, there are still a few things that have yet to be set in stone.
For example, the regulations propose a threshold for VAT being applied to electricity and water bills for commercial consumers.
This means that if a business consumes less than a certain amount of electricity per month to be determined by the government, it would pay no VAT; everything exceeding that as yet undetermined level would be subject to VAT.
The same is being proposed for businesses that consume public water.
While the draft legislation does not propose to impose VAT on these services for residential consumers, The Guardian understands that the prime minister will soon decide whether this will change, bearing in mind his party's pledge to lower the cost of electricity.
The government has also not decided on what the threshold will be for professional services to become VAT registrants.
The Guardian understands that currently the government is considering $100,000 or $150,000 as the threshold at which VAT will apply to those services.
The legislation also exempts professional services that are conducted for people who are not in The Bahamas in many instances.
Domestic transportation by land or water, other than in connection with a tour, would also be exempt.
VAT registrants who will be required to impose the new tax on retail transactions will be those businesses whose revenue exceeds $100,000 per year.
The VAT legislation and regulations are quite detailed and complex, but there are many areas that are quite straightforward.
What will you pay more for?
Expect financial transactions to impact your bottom line.
Financial services and transactions are not exempt from VAT if they levy a fee.
This includes, short-term insurance contracts; legal, accounting, record packaging services, and tax agency services, including advisory services; the provision of insurance, other than life or medical insurance; safe custody for money or documents; brokerage services; debt collection or factoring services and trustee services.
Also taxable would be the transmission of money or monetary value in any form; the issuance, sale or redemption of money orders or traveler's checks; check cashing; currency exchange issuance, sale or redemption of money orders and traveler's checks and currency exchange and pay day advances.
Loans to consolidate finances from bank to bank will be subject to VAT if the repayment terms are in installments.
However, financial services provided to a person treated as a non-resident for purposes of the Exchange Control Regulations are exempt.
Accounting and record packaging services rendered to these institutions would also be exempt.
What won't cost more
Many basic food items will be exempt from VAT.
Beef, chicken, pork, sheep meat, horse meat, smoked meat, dried meat, salted meat, sausage, sandwich meat, corned beef and fish will be exempt.
Fresh milk, milk products, concentrated and evaporated milk, cream, cheese, dairy spreads and butter will also be exempt.
VAT will not apply to fresh and frozen vegetables and fruit.
Rice, fonio, quinoa, triticale, flour, cereal, cereal grains, cereal groats (like oat, wheat, barley and rye), meal and pellets will be exempt.
Soybean oil, ground nut oil, olive oil, sesame oil, castor oil, other oils used for cooking and vegetable fats will also be exempt.
Margarine, imitation lard and shortening will be exempt.
Cane sugar, beet sugar and white sugar will be exempt.
VAT will not apply to bread, noodles, couscous, bulger wheat or foods for infant use.
Mustard and mayonnaise, soups and broth will also be exempt.
Mineral water for infant use will have no VAT applied to it.
Laundry detergent, dishwashing liquid, soaps and domestic utility goods will also be exempt.
Licenses issued by the government will be exempt from VAT as well.
Government agencies, ministries, departments, statutory bodies, local government councils, or other government entities that provide services that are usually taxable will be exempt from VAT if the services are of a nominal amount or they are not intended to recover the cost of those goods and services.
The Ministry of Finance will begin a series of intensive VAT workshops for the public starting tomorrow, Financial Secretary John Rolle said recently.
The workshops will come amid criticism over the proposed implementation date and questions about its impact.
The government has said VAT is necessary to bring down the government's massive deficit and get the country's spiraling debt situation under control.
Ministry of Finance officials estimate that VAT can generate about $200 million in annual revenue.Professions subject to VAT under draft bill1. Accountants
10. Athletic Trainers
21. Custodial engineers
22. Custom brokers
23. Dental Assistants
24. Dental Hygienists
32. Financial Analysts
34. Funeral Practitioners
36. Hair Dressers
38. Health Care Providers
39. Home Repair Service Providers
40. Interior Designers
42. Land Sales Developer
43. Landscape Architecture
46. Massage therapists
48. Naturopathic Doctors
49. Nurse Practitioners
51. Nursing Home Administrators
52. Occupational therapists
53. Occupational therapy Assistants
59. Physical Therapists
61. Physicians (MD)
65. Professional fundraisers
66. Professional Planner
70. Radiologic technicians
71. Real Estate Appraisers
72. Real Estate Professionals
73. Respiratory Care Practitioners
76. Social Workers
77. Speech-Language Pathologists
78. Stock Brokers
82. Timeshare Developers
83. Timeshare Sales Agent
84. Transient Sellers
87. Such other professions that the minister may add
With a focus of promoting Caribbean athletics globally, the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) is spearheading a 'Day in the Life' Series, featuring some of the best athletes in the region. The first stop on the regional tour was the island nation of Jamaica. Sheldon Longley is with the IAAF team, and will be bringing updates here in the Sports Section of The Nassau Guardian.
Whereas Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association (JAAA) President Dr. Warren Blake spoke about a possible coaching exchange between Jamaica and east African countries with the intention of broadening the athletic bases of both countries, particularly in distance running for Jamaica, former sprinter Grace Jackson has a different approach.
The Olympic silver medalist over 200 meters (m) from the 1988 Seoul Games said last week that as long as Jamaica maintain its status in the sprints, put a little more emphasis on the quarter-mile events, show a little more progression in the jumps and successfully move from junior prominence to senior success in the throws, the tiny island nation would move past countries like Russia and the United States (U.S.), and become the number one athletic country in the world.
Additionally, she said that the rest of the Caribbean, including The Bahamas, can do just as good as Jamaica by specializing and focussing on certain areas.
Jamaican sprinting came to the forefront at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, as they out-shone the U.S., taking four out of the six sprint titles, two in world record times. In total, they won nine sprint medals. The following year, Jamaica took three sprint titles, and both 4x100m relays at the Berlin World Championships. They duplicated that feat at the 2011 World Championships in Daegu and at the 2012 London Olympics, with the exception of the women's sprint relay, and then last year, Jamaica won four individual sprint titles, and captured both sprint relays at the Moscow World Championships. The country is undoubtedly the number one sprinting nation in the world right now.
"I think that we were knocking on the door for a while," said former sprint sensation Grace Jackson. "Merlene (Ottey) was that first inspiration, and must be given credit as such. She took us through a period of years where she was dominant. Other males were also dominant, but not getting medals in the major championships, but the people who were beating them were not necessarily better.
"We would fall short in finals at big meets, but then turn around and beat those same athletes who were beating us in the next meet. So, the question is, was it mental - racing in a final? Our men, in particular, stayed above ground by making it to the finals, but we just couldn't win medals.
"What is happening now is that we are breaking through and winning medals. I don't think that we have a need for the middle distance events. We have won medals in a number of other events. We just have to nurture the events that we have done well in - put the support behind those events like the hurdles and the jumps, continue to support the sprints, and bring the 400 meters back on board. I do not see us at this point showing the talent in the middle distance. We need to work with the things that we have a history of making something big in.
"If we were to touch all of those and get more medals, we could move ourselves past countries like Germany, the U.S., and Russia. Individuals have to be able to have the desire to do those events. For instance, some of the 200 runners could be quarter-milers. They have to come to terms with that. We can move from a junior to a senior level in the throws, and then we have it made. Jamaica would be at the top of the medal standings at the world championships and the Olympics."
Jackson said that a major aspect of athletics is to have athletes running in the right events. She believes in the student-athlete concept, and is driven to develop a facility that allows an athlete to develop, become a different person, and then move on.
"I believe that universities are the answer across the region to be the feeder systems for national teams," said Jackson. "Universities have a structure that will always be in place. It's an ideal home for athletes. They offer academic and medical support. Universities help athletes to develop athletes into being elite, and to know themselves. At the end of the day, athletes need strong coaching, video playback, massages, medical services, nutrition, and an understanding of where they would want to go."
A number of top Jamaican sprinters opt against running indoors. Triple world record holder Usain Bolt doesn't run indoors, and Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce didn't either until this past March in Sopot, Poland. This year represented her first time running at the world indoor championships, and still she was able to come out with the gold medal, in the women's 60 meters (m). Jackson said that whereas it would be good for Jamaicans to add to their athletic resumes, generally, there isn't a need for them to run indoors.
"We could just concentrate on being the best that we can be outdoors," said Jackson. "Most athletes don't want to run indoors. It creates more opportunities for them to get hurt. If we are going to improve internationally, ultimately we would have to build the stadium, and build our athletes to be top athletes. We need to focus on being the best that we can be at all times, and make athletics the best that it can be."
Just this past weekend, the island nation of Jamaica concluded one of its most successful Inter-Secondary Schools Sports Association (ISSA) Boys' and Girls' Athletics Championships, commonly known as 'Champs'. Over 20 records were broken at the five-day high school meet. Jackson said that the excitement surrounding 'Champs' is extraordinary, but they need to be careful when it comes to the preservation of athletes, so that they could become successful on the senior level.
"When you look at a lot of our high school athletes, 'Champs' is their Olympic Games - only a small percentage of them will make it," said Jackson. "'Champs' produces top junior athletes, but how do we funnel them in different directions so that we have a larger catchment. It's a tough transitional period to the senior level. We need to create more opportunities for our junior athletes. High school competition is important, and it is a tradition that we love, and we now need a bigger stadium because of it, but we have to be careful not to overwork our young athletes."
As for the world relays this May, Jackson said that The Bahamas has a huge task ahead in staging a successful meet - the first event of its kind in the history of global athletics. The inaugural International Association of Athletics Federations' (IAAF) World Relay Championships is set for May 24-25, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium here in The Bahamas.
"I'm very excited about it. It's a great event," said Jackson. "A lot of people in Jamaica, and the Caribbean, are inspired by relays. All of the athletes want to perform well. For Jamaicans, anything that has a baton in the hand we love. As a people, we are looking forward to competing in The Bahamas. I pray for a successful meet, and for it to continue to grow. I'm hoping that The Bahamas host well and create the kind of excitement that the IAAF is looking for. We love the relays in Jamaica, and The Bahamas is big on the relays as well, and so is America, so it bodes well that it is in this half of the world."
Jackson said that it is going to take a total team effort from the Jamaican athletes to go to The Bahamas and return with the desired results, particularly with triple world record holder Bolt most likely being unavailable because of a foot injury. Earlier last week, Jamaican athletes Yohan Blake and Warren Weir had hinted that they would be coming to The Bahamas to break the world record in the men's 4x200m. Without Bolt, who holds the individual world record in that event, the task becomes significantly more challenging.
No one ever thinks they will develop cancer. Cassandra Lewis-Moore was one of those people. The 34-year-old thought there was a possibility she would get diabetes as it'runs'in her family, but she never thought cancer would happen to her. But during the eighth month of pregnancy with her first child in October 2010, she felt a huge lump in one of her breasts. She knew something was wrong. She sought medical attention.
"It was very large, and it shouldn't have been there,"recalled Lewis-Moore."I'd never felt anything like that before. It didn't hurt, but it was very hard and very big. But because the breasts were so large you couldn't see it."
Because she was pregnant, her doctor ordered an ultrasound of the breast and concluded it was breast milk that would go away once she started breastfeeding. Lewis-Moore, a newlywed and her husband, Kevin welcomed a beautiful baby boy, Andreus, who they call"KJ"into the family. In the months after her son's birth, she noticed her breast size decreasing, but the lump getting bigger and protruding through the skin and not disappearing like the doctor had told her it would. It had started to hurt. It was a pain she chalked up to tenderness from breastfeeding. That was until the day she was playing with a then crawling"KJ"and like all babies do, he kneed her in the breast. The pain was excruciating. She remembers actually pushing her baby away from her so suddenly that she scared him. She thought about what the doctors had told her, and massaged her breast and put hot towels on it to help dissolve the milk. But it was the day that she took a"me day"in January 2011, and headed to the spa for a massage. As the therapist worked on her back, she said it was so painful she could not complete the therapy. That pain sent her back to her doctor.
Her doctor requested a mammogram. The result showed hardened milk. Her doctor requested a lumpectomy to remove the hardened mass, which was done in March 2011. The mass was tested and the result returned as Stage 2 breast cancer. The cancer cells were actually inside the hardened breast milk.
FRIGHT TAKES HOLD
Lewis-Moore was scared--not because it had taken so long to determine she had breast cancer--she was mad because she wondered what would happen to her family after she'd waited so long to get married and have a child, and then to be diagnosed with cancer while still a newlywed and a new mother.
"In my 20s, it was all about education and my career--so in my 30s, it was about getting married. And I'm the only girl and the last child in my family, so it was a big thing[for me to get married and have a child], and to be told this[that I had cancer]. I thought, what was going to happen to my family?"
Lewis-Moore began her battle with the deadly cancer cells. She celebrated her baby's first birthday one week before she began chemotherapy treatment. And she did her best to keep her energy up over the months of treatment for her child, who was too young to understand that his mom was sick.
"He just knows one day mommy had hair that he used to pull,"says Lewis-Moore who boldly sports a bald head no hair caps for her."The tough part was when we were playing one day and I had already started chemo, and he pulled on my hair, and a whole clump came out in his hand and fell on his face. He just dropped it and ran. He was scared. But other than that, mommy is still mommy. Sometimes, she can still play; sometimes, she can't because she's very tired."
She's finished with chemo, but will have to take additional treatment because she was diagnosed as HER2-positive. This is a diagnosis for people who have a protein called human epidermal growth factor that promotes the growth of cancer cells. HER2-positivebreast cancers tend to be more aggressive than other types of breast cancer. They're also less responsive to hormone treatment. However, treatments that specifically target HER2 are very effective.
"I'm going to have to do additional treatments, but they're not as severe as the chemo, and they want me to do radiation, and we're still setting that up."
The road to survivor isn't quite finished yet, but Lewis-Moore begs to differ. "I had a lump--the cancer was there, and they took the lump out, and the cancer hadn't spread."
Even though chemo was a downside, Lewis-Moore has come out on the other side with a friend--a 31-year-old who had to have an immediate double mastectomy because her cancer was spreading like wildfire.
"Chemo was rough; I will not lie,"she says."It is not rough for everyone, but for those who have the illnesses after the chemo, make sure you have a strong support system at home and at work."
BRINGING SEXY BACK
She is now on a slow road to bringing sexy back. She's walking at least 20 minutes a day as recommended by her doctor, and looking forward to the fabulous new breasts she will soon be getting. She had a partial mastectomy on one breast, but to put safety measures in place for her future, she wants to have a double mastectomy then get those"fabulous new breasts"with which will come a tummy tuck. The surgery she will have done, a TRAM Flap Breast Reconstruction, which is the gold standard in breast construction, removes some of her stomach skin and fat, to reconstruct her breasts and fill them in.
As she battled the disease, she admits that she was not always as confident as she is today and says at one point, she really stopped trying and didn't bother with anything. But after a month or two, she said to hell with it--that she was going to live her life and have fun. She was going to dress up and go out and rock her bald head.
When she first started to lose her hair, which was natural, her cousin took her to his barber and she got a low haircut. The hair continued to come out, so she told her husband to shave off the rest. Right after she did that, Lewis-Moore, who works for BAF Financial and Insurance Bahamas Ltd., the coordinators behind Denim Day in the country for 14 years in raising monies for a cure, says she had to attend a company awards ceremony to which she wore a head-wrap. For a week she wore different head-wraps until she was hit by a hot flash at work. All she wanted to do was get naked, but she couldn't at work. The best thing for her to do was remove the head-wrap. That was the last day she wore one.
Removing the head-wrap liberated her and gave her confidence.
"I had another coworker who had breast cancer and her advice to me was to just wear makeup, but I couldn't wear that because I sweat too much, so I would just draw on my eyebrows if I remembered in the mornings. One morning, I woke up, was washing my face, looked in the mirror and said,"By damn, I don't have any eyebrows, eyelashes, nothing. So some days, I had eyebrowsâEUR¦some days, I didn't and I put on my lip-gloss, put on my earrings and was out the door."
The cancer survivor is excited for her future. And she says cancer does not have to be a death sentence. She says women need to take their health seriously and check things out because they know their bodies, and know when something is wrong. She encourages them to get bumps or moles that they hadn't seen before checked out.
For anyone who has been newly diagnosed with breast cancer or will be diagnosed in the future, Lewis-Moore says she has learned that you need to have a strong support system at home and at work, both of which she had.
Through her battle, Lewis-Moore was thankful for the support she received from her husband, and also thankful that he had a group of friends with wives, sisters or mothers that had breast cancer that he could talk to.
"It was tough, because being a newlywed and fairly young, and I didn't have urges. It just wasn't there. I was miserable in the sense that I did not want to be bothered and I did not want to be here."
But she says her husband's support, as well as that of her family--her mother traveled from Grand Bahama to stay with them for six months--and her aunts and cousins helped by keeping the baby some days and make certain she was okay, especially after days when she endured eight-hour chemotherapy sessions, helped her through the rough times. And her co-workers that knew what she was going through were helpful and very understanding.
"I never thought cancer would happen to me. I thought maybe I would get diabetes because that runs in my family, but never anything like this,"she says.
Schooner Bay is developing a $2 million retreat to entice guests seeking a therapeutic escape - but with a twist.
Well Bahamas, comprised of several buildings spilling out into a courtyard, should come online by Spring 2013. Luxurious yet simple, the attraction hopes to remain consistent with Schooner Bay's mantra of sustainability.
"It's in development now," said Amanda Lindroth, the wife of the key developer behind the South Abaco community. "It has to be run by great personnel, so they have been developing it with us. The concept, like Schooner, is predicated on health and well being, away from the fitness center with pounding music."
Instead, Well Bahamas aims to offer a serene setting with accommodations for up to eight people at a time. The restaurant will dish out healthy, clean meals, with many of the products grown on site.
Walking routes through the forest or down the beach, massage treatments, manicures and pedicures, and a variety of body treatments will also be provided.
Lindroth expects Well Bahamas to generate 10 jobs upon opening.
"The modern idea of going to spa ... I find the concept dated now. Schooner evokes a spirit. It's so elemental and there is so much nature. It makes you think abut approaching things in a more natural way," she added.
Well Bahamas may also have a taste of the modern, however. Lindroth said the spa could bring in electronic kiosks or provide mobile applications so guests can log progress on the designated walks.
Lindroth told Guardian Business "there will be nothing like it in The Bahamas".
According to blueprints obtained by Guardian Business, Well Bahamas consists of five or six structures facing a courtyard. There are fitness rooms, treatments rooms and rooms for guests at the spa.
The end of the year opening should work well with the considerable growth expected at Schooner this year.
In fact, up to $30 million will be spend on infrastructure, amenities and homes as it grows into a full-fledged community. As many as 30 homes are slated for completion in 2012, in addition to the 12 now underway at various stages of construction.
Many houses are already finished and the community has welcomed its first residents.
The opening of the harbor, the only one within 20 miles in any direction, is being touted as a major step in Schooner's development.
James Malcolm, the head of marketing, said the fuel dock will be installed this year and up to 20 boats should be moored there by the end of 2012.
"Now we're getting powered up with the opening of the harbor, and everything has been very deliberately orchestrated," Malcolm said.
It's almost summer and most women are looking forward to getting a pedicure and showing off those pretty toenails, but as diabetics, before you kick off your shoes, consider the potential downsides of pedicures.
People with diabetes are at high risk for a number of complications including infections, ulcers and amputations. If there is a break in the skin, it can lead to a leg or life-threatening infection. As podiatrists, we recommend that individuals with diabetes do not receive a pedicure because of the often questionable sanitary conditions of the beauty salon, the skills of the individual performing the pedicure and the cleanliness of the instruments used.
Regardless, many women (and, yes, even men) with diabetes are still heading to salons and spas. Aside from being a relaxing way to spend an afternoon, pedicures can ensure that feet are clean and moisturized, which is important when you have diabetes with dry skin. The reality is that women are going to get pedicures whether they are diabetics or not. If people with diabetes choose to have pedicures. they must be aware of the risk and follow these tips to keep their feet safe.
Know when to skip it: If you are healthy, with your diabetes under control and without complications, getting a pedicure may not pose as great a threat as it does for people with diabetic foot complications. If you have decreased feeling in the feet (neuropathy), an infection or an ulcer, don't book an appointment. An open wound will allow in any bacteria that may be hiding in the foot basin, the water or on the instruments. Further, because of the nerve damage you may not be able to tell if you've been cut or burned if the water is too hot.
Check out the salon: Before scheduling a pedicure at just any nail salon, it is wise to look into the cleanliness of the salon and its practices. It is important to look into all the salon's sanitation practices, the technician's training (make sure he/she is licensed), how the tools are cleaned and how the basin is cleaned. If the salon looks clean, but you're still not sure, don't be afraid to ask them how they clean their basins and instruments.
Foot baths and instruments should be cleaned with a hospital-grade, EPA-registered disinfectant after every client. If the salon or spa does not clean often enough or with the proper chemicals, don't take a chance on going there. There are so many things you can catch at a salon that is not clean including fungus or bacteria. It is recommended that you visit and check out the salon or get a manicure first before getting a pedicure.
Examine the foot bath: Foot baths provide a pool of warm, bubbly water that is relaxing. But they can also be filled with bacteria that can come from the water or from the basin not being cleaned properly after the last client. It is recommended that basins are thoroughly cleansed between each client.
Inspect the tools: Before you let a pedicurist touch your feet, find out how her tools are sanitized. All nail instruments should be cleaned after each use. Dirty instruments used on past customers or soaked in unchanged sterilizing fluid or open containers are very dangerous and can be the source of an infection. Pick a salon that uses stainless steel instruments, which are easier to clean rather than wooden sticks or porous files. To prevent the spread of infection, emery boards and nail buffers should be used once and given to the client or thrown out after each client. To ensure instruments are clean and safe, some people take their own tools to the nail salon. At the end you would take the tools home and clean them yourself.
Give instructions: If you have diabetes it is best to tell the nail technician you have diabetes. Give clear guidelines on how you want them to take care of your feet safely. Tell them that you cannot have your feet soaked in hot water. Request that the technician not clip your cuticles or file your heels or calluses with a blade.
Make sure the water is warm, not hot, and that your toenails are cut straight across. Moisturizing lotions or creams should be massaged into your feet, but not between the toes. Insist that the pedicurist avoid a credo blade or razor on your feet.
Consider the alternatives: These measures may seem a bit excessive, but consider the alternative. Unsterilized instruments can pass bacteria and infections between clients. The first thing to understand when it comes to diabetics is that pedicure risks in healthy people are multiplied in diabetics.
The first thing that a diabetic should do is to consult their podiatrist and ask them if they can have a pedicure. Sometimes patients with controlled diabetes can enjoy pedicures without much more risk than normal healthy people. However, nail technicians must remember that instruments should be cleaned before use and that diabetics are at increased risk for complication and that their skin should never be broken.
In the unfortunate situation that the skin of a diabetic is broken, or if there is pain or soreness you must take immediate steps to clean the wound and place a dressing on the wound. You should see a podiatrist as soon as possible if symptoms persist. When you have diabetes, any injury to your feet is a major concern even if it is caused by the manicurist. An injury is an open invitation for an infection. An infection can lead to higher blood sugars and higher blood sugars can interfere with healing, which can lead to ulcers and potential amputation.
When it comes to pedicures, persons with diabetes must ask themselves if it is worth the risk? People with diabetes should be seen by a podiatrist on a regular basis for routine foot care. It is best to see the podiatrist, regularly so any problem or potential foot complications can be dealt with early.
o For more information, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.apma.org or pedicuretip.org. To see a podiatrist visit Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street or call 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane or call 394-5820.
Summer is here with a vengeance, and most Bahamians are busy planning or going on their next vacation. Whether you are planning to walk around amusement parks, shop until you drop, or explore one of the beautiful Family Islands at home, traveling can take a toll on your feet, and an injury can ruin your entire vacation.
Before you go on your next trip, here are some sensible travel tips to follow for good foot health while traveling. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort in your feet or ankles, visit a podiatrist before traveling to find out what's causing the problem and have it treated. Remember, foot pain is not normal and it can ruin your travel plans!
Review your travel itinerary and the activities you have planned to decide on the kind and amount of shoes you will need to pack. As a general rule, wear comfortable, supportive shoes such as sneakers. They should fit properly, with good arch support and be worn with socks to prevent discomfort and blisters. Do not take new shoes that have never been worn on your vacation. It is a good idea to condition and prepare your feet and legs for the activities you plan to perform during your vacation. If you plan to walk a lot, several weeks before your trip, begin a regular walking program wearing the shoes you will take on your trip. This will help you to enjoy your vacation more and prevent aches, pains or injury that may accompany a new workout routine.
Preventing a blood clot
When flying or driving for long periods of time, there is an increased risk of developing a Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT which is a blood clot in the legs) especially if you have risk factors such as a recent long surgery, confined to bed, cancer, older than 40 years of age, obesity and smoking. The risk of developing DVT from air travel is strongly linked to age. It is uncommon in young people and very common in the elderly. Studies estimate that three to five percent of travelers develop clots in their veins related to travel. In the United States it is estimated that there are one million cases of DVT related to air travel every year and that 100,000 of these persons die. To prevent this we recommend when traveling for more than four hours you should get up and move around every two hours, drink plenty water, stay hydrated, don't drink too much alcohol or caffeine, avoid crossing your legs and exercise your leg by flexing your feet and ankles, wiggling your toes and unlacing your shoes if your feet swells.
Don't go barefoot
Always wear shoes or sandals while walking on the sand to prevent foot injuries from the hot sand and puncture from objects that may be hidden beneath the sand. Walking barefoot exposes the feet to sunburn, as well as the virus that causes plantar warts, fungus that causes athlete's foot or nail fungus and many other infections. Persons with diabetes should never walk barefoot, in doors or outside.
For persons with lighter complexions, be sure to apply sunscreen to your legs and feet while basking in the sun. Apply sunscreen to the tops of your feet and legs regularly at least every three to four hours to prevent sunburns and protect against the harmful UV rays of the sun.
Foot first aid
Take a foot first aid kit and be prepared in case of a minor foot problem. Pack Band-aids, foot pads, talcum powder, antibiotic or first aid cream and nail clippers in your toiletry bag. If you injure your foot or ankle while traveling, seek professional attention from a podiatrist.
Pamper you feet
After a long day of sightseeing, shopping, walking, hiking or whatever you have planned for your vacation, treat your feet well, massage them, rest them and keep them elevated. After all you will need them to do it all over again tomorrow.
o For more information email email@example.com or visit www.foothealth.org or apma.org. To see a podiatrist visit the Bahamas Foot Centre on Rosetta Street, telephone 325-2996 or Bahamas Surgical Associates on Albury Lane, telephone 394-5820.
Last year staff at Royal Fidelity were shocked at the death of their colleague -- a person who worked out daily and whom they looked at as the epitome of health. But at the age of 35, that person died of a heart attack. That pushed the group's human resources director Stacia Williams to wonder if the institution was doing enough -- if anything at all -- for its staff as it related to their health and wellness.
Last week, Royal Fidelity initiated the Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health and Wellness Program, a three-day health fair held during office hours at the Royal Fidelity Head Office which is mandatory for all of their 189 staff members, including those in Royal Fidelity's Grand Bahama arm to participate.
During the health fair, staff members in groups of 35 were subject to medical screenings, healthy lifestyle coaching, massages, healthy cooking and juicing/blending demonstrations, and were able to take their fill of fresh fruit made available to them at the pop-up market. The health fair took place in the courtyard at Fidelity's head office in half-day sessions per group over the three days.
"We really need everyone to understand how important a healthy lifestyle is... eating the right foods, exercising and de-stressing," said Williams. "Phillippa Wilson [who was our] assistant vice-president of corporate finance in the Royal Fidelity family died September 20, and she was the epitome of health. She would leave her office every day, go running, and everyone would mention how disciplined she was to do this. We saw her as a physically fit person who ate healthy every day, and she died of a heart attack basically at age 35. That was a shocker for us."
After that tragedy, Williams said she knew that the institution had to do more as it relates to health and wellness for their staff and their families. The Phillippa Wilson Get in Gear Health & Wellness Program was born out of that tragedy to create awareness for the staff.
"We just need everybody to have a mindset change, so we made it mandatory for all of our staff to come out. This was not something they could just choose to do because it was that important to us."
Jan Isaacs, president of Jemi Health and Wellness, and her team addressed Fidelity's staff on wellness inclusive of mind, body and spirit. They gave informative talks on the foods staff members should and should not be eating as well as how to shop and read labels on packaging. The Jemi team also covered the foods people with cholesterol and diabetes should be purchasing and what they should not be consuming along with the importance of portion size.
Chef Ancilleno Solomon showed employees how to prepare light, healthy lunches and dinners. He specifically demonstrated recipes using chicken breast, salmon, a medley of vegetables and gluten-free pasta. The Jemi team showed the staff how to blend juices and vegetables to get their intake of fruit and vegetables in a juice form for those that liked the idea of juicing. The Fidelity family also took home recipes so that they would be able to replicate the meals at home.
In the final analysis, the health fair was simply a prelude to the main event -- the Get in Gear Six-Week Challenge. Staff came together in groups of four, named their team and chose a team captain. The team had to participate in weekly assigned activities with personal trainer Toriano Johnson; engage in cooking classes; weigh in weekly and attend Weight Watchers meetings (optional).
Williams stressed that the six-week challenge was not an affair to see who could lose the most weight. While weight loss was a component of the challenge, that they were more focused on their staff member's body mass index (BMI) results.
In an effort to ensure that their staff approached the challenge in a healthy way, they were not allowed to fast and had to post pictures eating three healthy meals per day on the group's social media site. Williams also gave out weekly challenges through their social media group, with challenges increasing in difficulty each week.
"After the six-week challenge, I'm hoping that people will have a new awareness and a new appreciation for a healthy lifestyle, and understanding the importance of their health," said Williams. "People can weigh whatever they want to weigh, be whatever size they want to be; it doesn't mean they're not healthy. If you're healthy in your size and happy with your size, then I'm happy -- but I need you to be healthy. We don't want to lose another of our employees to a silent killer like a heart attack."
Williams said the next six weeks would be rough for Fidelity's staff as the challenge starts in the lead-up to the holiday season and all the goodies that will be tempting them everywhere. She is hoping they will not succumb and survive through to the challenge culmination which will take place just before Fidelity's Christmas party at which time Williams said they would get to eat, drink and be merry.
Teams will be able to win prizes throughout the six-week challenge with the overall winner receiving an iPad, cash and gym membership for the year at the end of the six-week challenge.
Like many parents, Brennamae and Fernley Cooper want only the best for their children -- success, health and for them to maximize their full potential. With a thriving, striving eight-year-old son and a perfect second pregnancy with all of her checks balancing out, the Coopers were shocked to learn just days after their daughter was born in 2009 that she had a congenital heart disease. The mother described the feeling as she was told of what was wrong with her daughter as "heart-wrenching".
"Shock is an understatement. It was so unreal," she said. "I recall when the doctor was explaining it that I immediately started crying because everything up to that point was good. My pregnancy was great, I felt good and I had been up-to-date with all my checks, so there was no indication."
At her first post-natal visit, the doctor heard a heart murmur and referred the Coopers to pediatric cardiologist Dr. Jerome Lightbourne. Grace was diagnosed with a heart condition called Trilogy of Fallot. She had a hole in the lower chamber of her heart, a common thing, but in Grace's case it was multiple, and that the pulmonary vessel that takes blood to the lungs was too narrow, restricting the proper flow of blood to her lungs. Dr. Lightbourne made plans for the just days old baby to fly to Florida for life-saving medical help. In the first two years of her young life, Grace has already undergone a number of operations, to repair a number of defects, including having surgery to remove a portion of her small intestine after she developed intestinal infection after one of her surgeries. The baby had to undergo open-heart surgery in 2010 at one year and two months of age to repair the hole in her heart and the valve.
The Coopers know their daughter will have at least one future surgery to replace a stent that was put in to open a valve which they know will have to be replaced as Grace grows and it becomes too small. But they say God's will be done.
As she approaches her third birthday, Grace is thriving, having met all of her milestones. And her mother marvels at the milestones she said her daughter has achieved.
"Initially, the motor skills we had to work on and thankfully while I was by her bedside I was able to watch the physical therapists as they massaged and worked her legs, arms and neck, positioning her so she could hold up her head and do the different things to strengthen her because she was in a sedated state for such a long time that the body could become stiff in certain areas," she said.
"So I learned to do the exercises and when we returned home, my husband and I continued doing them with her at home for a few weeks. After that, Grace was just striving -- feeding, sitting up and crawling. Now she's walking, talking and doing well."
Her mother describes her as a toddler with a strong personality who loves to sing and smile. "She's just a happy soul," said Cooper.
Grace was able to have all of her surgeries done in the United States courtesy of The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation, a privately funded charity that raises funds primarily through donations and from the annual Heart Ball held in February, and which will be held on Saturday, February 18 at Sheraton Cable Beach Resort. Over 97 percent of each dollar raised goes directly to the aid of children.
"Prior to 2009, I honestly did not even know about the Sir Victor Sassoon Heart Foundation ... and honestly I don't know if that's sad or whatever, but often times you don't know about these things until you have to use them yourself."
She said as Dr. Lightbourne made arrangements for her daughter to seek life-saving medical help in the United States, she still was unaware to what extent the organization would be able to help them. Cooper said she was left speechless when the doctor explained that the foundation would cover the bill. Today, she is eternally grateful and still does not know how much it cost for her daughter's life-saving surgeries.
"I recall one day when one of the medical personnel came by and asked if I wanted to have a look at what the bill was so far, but I said to her I really didn't want to know because I didn't want a headache that day. Later on she kind of gave us an idea, and it was thousands of dollars -- money that my husband and I would not have been able to come up with at that time -- and not even now. From when this happened, we knew we would not be able to pay back monetarily -- not dollar for dollar, but what we can do is tell people about the foundation."
Reliving the ordeal they went through with their daughter is still painful to the Coopers, but the mother said she and her husband agreed to share her story as their way of giving back.
"If it touches the heart of people who hear the story to give to the foundation, we would do it every time because we are eternally grateful. I know of situations where parents who got bad news from doctors that their loved one has to go into surgery, and they have to come up with 'X amount' before the surgery can even be done, and we cannot relate to that thanks to the foundation. We don't know how that feels."
Cooper said they've made one or two monetary contributions to the foundation since, but nothing they do in comparison can compare. And she encourages people to make donations to the organization because they're not just making a donation, but saving lives.
Through the generosity of others, she says Grace's life -- which she knows has a purpose, has been saved.
"I work with children who sometimes have certain disabilities that prevents them from leading a full life, but because of the opportunity that the foundation has afforded us, Grace can live a normal life. Grace can run around like her peers now, and the teachers don't have to be cautious, and if they are cautious, it's only out of their own fear, and they want to be extra careful. It's not because she's ailing," she says.
With Grace "out of the woods", Cooper says their goal is to help Grace to live a full life, grow up and use her existence as a testimony to let people know.
"We are firm believers in God and I know that even going through it, if I had a different spirit ... a different mindset, I can honestly say I wouldn't have been as mentally stable as I am today because even the way Grace's body changed, and things we saw with our eyes could have blown our minds. As a young couple we were close," said the 35-year-old mother, but this whole experience has brought us even closer because we went through this together and that made it even more easy to deal with."
After the ordeal her family went through she says many people have told her that they expect Grace to be "spoiled", but the mother says she disciplines her daughter when necessary, but has noticed that her daughter has a mind of her own and is very strong-minded. She says if Grace wants to do something she will let them know. And that Grace doesn't stop calling for her mom until she has her attention.
With the foundation's major fundraiser, the Heart Ball scheduled for Saturday, February 18 at the Sheraton Cable Beach Resort, the Coopers are planning to attend for the first time. She says for the past two years they weren't able to attend because they weren't able to financially, but this year the Cooper's are making the sacrifice to pay the $500 per couple price tag, for tickets plus travel into New Providence for the event. She says it's the least they can do.
The Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation was established as a living tribute by Lady Sassoon following the death of her husband, Sir Victor Sassoon, in 1961, to assist Bahamians with heart disease. Lady Sassoon had asked that instead of sending flowers to honor her husband, that people send a donation to the local heart fund. A few weeks later the hospital called to tell her that a substantial amount of money had been donated in her husband's memory, but that there was no local heart fund. She took it upon herself to create one.
Through the foundation's fundraising efforts, over 4,000 children have been afforded quality medical care. The foundation currently has a list of 11 children that need immediate life-saving surgery.
Donations can be made to the Sir Victor Sassoon (Bahamas) Heart Foundation at P.O. Box N-8189, Nassau, Bahamas.