Featured MassKicker

Tito Dudley

Many of us may feel that once they hear their diagnosis that it is a sort of death sentence...but it's not.

Tito Dudley is a culinary mAss Kicker. Tito Dudley AKA “Chef T” overcame Hodgkin’s Lymphoma as a youth by combining exercise, healthy eating habits, staying strong and his faith in God. Over the last 12 years Tito has since become a Chef, Actor, Fitness Specialist, top Natural Bodybuilder, and a writer for various fitness magazines. He has performed on MTV, CBS, and on a few off broadway plays at the Mark Hellinger Theater.  Tito has also created the documentary, The United States of Atrophy  which won him a Best Director and Audience Choice Award at the 2012 FirstGlance Film Festival in Hollywood.  He was also a ‘BET’ sponsored Chef for Johnsville Sausage and featured on Spike TV, Frankenfood for his Bunless Cheese Cake Burger. We were honored to catch him in some downtime and ask him a few questions.

mK:  Thanks for doing this Tito!  What/ when was your diagnosis?  How did you find out about your diagnosis?
TD:  I was 15, turning 16, when I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. I woke up one morning and looked in the mirror and saw this lump at the base of my neck.

mK:  What were your symptoms?
TD:  Honestly, I didn’t experience any symptoms.

mK: Scary!  Who are your heroes?
TD: I have many heroes in my life, it’s very hard to pick just one. My lady, my family, my close friends and my clients are all people who have inspired me in many different ways and I thank God that I have them all as a part of my life.

mK: Cool.  What motivates you?
TD: My passion every day is to inspire people to live a healthy lifestyle through fitness and food. Being a cancer survivor motivates me even more to inspire others to make healthier choices.

mK: OK, let us know why diet and exercise are so important in life after a tumor/cancer diagnosis?
TD: My treatment, back in the year of 1995/96, was a combination of conventional and alternative medicine. My family was fortunate enough to come across a Nutritionist who educated us on the importance of eating healthy and also incorporating supplementation during my treatment. There is so much information out there regarding alternative medicinal treatment. It is extremely important to constantly feed your body healthy foods that are real & whole. Our bodies are constantly fighting off toxins & dealing with stress from all different angles on a day to day basis. Eating real foods definitely helps to optimize your bodies overall health. This practice should be a part your lifestyle all year round…especially for us survivors. As many people know Chemo destroys everything in our bodies both the good and the bad. So if you decided to incorporate Chemo into your treatment plan then it’s very important to start building your body back up with all the appropriate nutrients it needs to optimize your health.

mK: That makes a lot of sense.  Here’s a more personal question for you, “When was the first time you felt like yourself after your diagnosis?”
TD: I don’t think I ever stopped feeling like myself. But what I did find was my passion and a new journey in life.

mK: Finding that passion is so important when trying!  What makes you laugh, cry, angry?
TD: It all depends…but my lady can cover all three categories…lol. She can make me laugh until my stomach hurts and I’ll have tears in my eyes. Then there can be moments where we naturally can get under each others skin… but it’s all a part of our intense love for each other. What makes me cry… seeing my family & friends when they are not well… it’s something that I don’t like to even think about.

mK:  What would you say is the most interesting thing you’ve done?
TD: Rocking climbing with First Descents was interesting & the most mind blowing experience. It is something that when I was invited to do it, I was so scared to try it, but once I did and I overcame my fears I was so glad that I did.

mK:  What was the toughest challenge you faced as a survivor?  How did you overcome it?
TD: The toughest challenge I used to face was the fear of it coming back. Then I met Sammy Maloof, a really good friend of mine, who is also a Hollywood Race Car stuntman & Christian, who slapped some sense into me. He spoke to me about the power of our thoughts & our words. He talked about how we should be very careful about the words that we choose to say and the thoughts that we think, and to make sure that we choose our words wisely. We are surrounded by many obstacles in the world, of which many of them can influence fear in our lives. It’s really up to us whether we give in to those fears & then consequently speak them into existence… or we can choose to have faith and speak life into into our lives with positivity. I continue to surround myself with positive people and my faith in God is important to me as well, along with the support of my family & friends. Having my Lady in life who I share everything with, including my feelings, thoughts, fears and dreams with is also very healing and nurturing for me.

mK: What is your guilty pleasure?
TD: I love & enjoy working on my car. I am very big into customizing high performance cars. A few years ago my lady gave me a 2-Day High Performance Driving course as a birthday gift at the Skip Barber Racing School. It was such a blast… that’s the gift that keeps on giving!

mK: If you were a cartoon character, who would you be? Why?
TD: I would have to say Wolverine. All said & done when it’s time to make something happen, he gets it done. And that’s how I am about my career. He’s also strong and that doesn’t hurt… Lol

mK: What do you like to do in your spare time?
TD: Lately in my spare time I’ve been focusing on growing my business: Simple Eats w/Chef T. Making my dreams come true.

mK: What are you up to now?
TD: I’m a Fitness Specialist, Natural Food Chef & a Natural Bodybuilder/Crossfitter. I currently have private clients that I cook for and train. I also cook for First Descents outings throughout the country, and also for yoga groups in Florida. Most recently I began selling my Paleo and Gluten Free treats in the Down to Earth Farmer’s Markets in NYC. If you ever have time feel free to like my FaceBook fan page a for more food related events, recipes and more.

mK: Cool. I’m still thinking about the “Bun-less Cheese Cake Burger!” I digress…  Any advice for people or loved ones that get daunting diagnoses?
TD: Many of us may feel that once they hear their diagnosis that it is a sort of death sentence…but it’s not. It’s in that moment that you have to decide what you need to do and educate yourself on the importance of nutrition & exercise & making a true lifestyle change. Whole foods plays a huge part in building the bodies immune system. Meditation, prayer & sleep is also very important too. Keeping stress levels down is crucial for anyone, but especially for those whose bodies are being compromised and challenged on such an intense level. And lastly…surround yourself with your friends & family, and positive and likeminded people.

mK: Tell us something about yourself that people probably didn’t know… anything.
TD: Well, 2 things come to mind… For 1, I am a cake LOVER! Any and all cakes are my kryptonite. And 2, I am terrified of bugs… Lol. My lady is the bug killer in the house… she always teases me about that.

mK: HAHAHA! Stuff like that makes us “human”.  You do gotta have reservations about people who don’t like cake! Any parting words for all the mAss Kickers?
TD: Live Courageous, Eat Real Foods, Keep Exercising, Love your Bodies, Keep Dreaming, Believe in yourself, inspire & help others. Be strong… You’re not alone.

Tito Dudley AKA “Chef T”:  Entomophobiac, Cake Aficionado, whole foods proponent, fitness specialist, natural food chef, a natural bodybuilder/crossfitter, X-man, gear head, active cancer thriver, and cool guy!  Thanks for doing this Tito!   Check out Simple Eats with Chef T. Looking forward to what you do next!

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