Today, October 6th, marks eight years since my cancer diagnosis. It’s hard to believe that so much time has passed since that dreadful day in 2008 when I heard the words “you have cancer” from a doctor I had only met three days prior. So much has changed since then– I’ve morphed into a completely different person than my thirty year old self. I made it through a second cancer diagnosis at age thirty one, underwent a total of five breast surgeries, four rounds of chemotherapy, six weeks of radiation, breast reconstruction, a nipple tattoo, hair loss, multiple trips through the MRI machine, and of course countless needle pokes, not to mention I have consumed more gallons of green juice than anyone else alive on planet earth. I became a plant pusher (also know as vegan), an activist for animal welfare, and an advocate for breast cancer patients. Who knew that years later I’d turn my experience into one that I was eager to share with others through magazine articles, radio interviews, photo shoots, blog posts and the like. What I once understood as devastating news has undoubtably turned into a real gift. While not everyday was peachy and fun, I can look back at journey with breast cancer as just that, a journey. The tumors, they were just uninvited guests, visitors really, there to teach me a few tough lessons before they went on their way. The hair loss, well, that likely taught me a thing or two about vanity (or lack there of) and, I actually think it provided a way for me to really see me as me. I could go on and on about the many insights I’ve gained, but one thing is for sure– here, eight years later– I’m spending today to reflect on where I have come, to remember those who I have met, those I have lost to this dis-ease and those who have helped me along the way. Today is also a day to celebrate the fact that I am ALIVE, because there were definitely moments where I wasn’t sure that would even be possible.
With all of that being said, it’s no accident that I’ve invited Shauna Martin, ten year cancer survivor, fellow vegan, and Founder and CEO of the organic and cold-pressed juice company, Daily Greens as my guest today. Though Shauna and I have only met briefly once, we sure do have a lot in common! With it being Breast Cancer Awareness Month, my personal 8 year cancer-versary (as well as my 8 year vegan-versay later this month), I couldn’t think of a better time to feature Shauna on my blog than today. Welcome Shauna!
Cowgirls & Collard Greens: Can you share with us your journey with breast cancer? How and when were you diagnosed, and what steps did you take as far as treatment goes?
Shauna Martin: I vividly recall sitting on the floor of my shower with water and tears streaming down my face trying to figure it all out. I could not stop thinking . . . why? Why me? What did I do wrong? On July 28, 2005, my son’s first birthday, I had been diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty three. My life was flashing before my eyes, as I struggled with the question of whether I was ready to die or not. It did not take me long to conclude, that I was in fact not ready to die. I had a young child to live for! I knew I had to muster the strength to get out of the shower and take care of my family, but nine months of chemotherapy and a year of surgeries to first remove my breasts and then reconstruct them had left me weak, bald and hopeless. After all that I had been through my doctors told me I still had an up to 40% chance of a recurrence. I thought, how could that possibly be, after everything I had done to fight my cancer over the past two years? I knew one thing for sure, I had to stay alive for my son, so I resolved to get up off the shower floor and do something about it.
C&CG: Did you use other methods of treatment (alternative/complimentary medicine) such as herbs/supplements, massage, meditation, diet changes, etc.? How is your health today?
SM: I had heard that food could have powerful healing attributes, so I decided to investigate. I read everything I could get my hands on, and my journey lead me to understand that a plant-based diet filled with raw vegetables could not only help detox my body from all the toxins from my breast cancer treatment, but it could also potentially prevent a recurrence of breast cancer. I was so excited to finally find something that would be under my control, so I went for it. I read that the most efficient way to consume raw veggies was to juice them, so I ordered my first juicer and started making a green juice every day. The effects were immediate and undeniable. I immediately started to regain my energy and my former stamina. My hair grew back quickly, my skin and eyes started to glow. I was blown away, so I studied further and determined that the right thing for me was to move to a fully plant-based diet. This took several years of slowly eliminating animal protein from my diet, but when I finally got there the result was amazing. I am still fully vegan and plant based, 10 years later, and it enables me to be the best version of myself each and every day.
C&CG: I understand that you’re vegan. Did that change come solely due to your diagnosis or were you vegan before being diagnosed? What’s your vegan story?
SM: See above….still vegan and loving life! All these years later, I remain steadfast in my belief that eating vegan and organic has and continues to save my life.
C&CG: Somewhere along the way I have gathered that you are a cowgirl, perhaps it’s the boots I’ve seen you wear in photographs. Is that because you live in Austin, Texas? Were you born in Texas and do you have a background with horses?
SM: Yes, being a Texan made me a cowgirl at heart, but probably what really made me a cowgirl was growing up on a farm and cattle ranch. Yes, I know, ironic given that I am vegan.
C&CG: Many people after undergoing a life-changing experience are inspired to make changes in their life and try things that perhaps they wouldn’t have before. I started Cowgirls & Collard Greens, both my website and blog, about five years following my own breast cancer diagnosis to help as a resource to aid people in health. Was it your own journey with cancer that inspired you to create Daily Greens? Can you share with my readers what Daily Greens is and how your company was started?
SM: After I discovered the life-renewing benefits of drinking a daily green juice, I wanted to share the good news with my friends and family. I had many converts over the years, but after several months most would put away their juicer and conclude that it was just too difficult to do on a daily basis. I realized that if I was going to get folks to stick to a regime of drinking a daily green juice I was going to have to make it for them. So after practicing corporate law for eighteen years, I set out to research the technology needed to produce cold-pressed green juice on a massive scale. My mission and vision was to get a green juice into the hands of every American every single day. At midnight one Friday night in December 2012, I made sixty bottles of green juice with the help of my cousin, and early the next morning I took it to the farmer’s market. It was a massive hit, and Daily Greens was born. Today, just three and a half years later, Daily Greens is distributed nationally in over 3,000 retail outlets.
C&CG: Did you know anything about running a business or have any food experience previous to starting Daily Greens?
SM: I practiced corporate law for eighteen years before I started Daily Greens, and my background was in technology, not in the food and beverage industry. I feel very blessed that I have been able to surround myself with amazing folks that do have industry knowledge and who have been and continue to take Daily Greens to the next level.
C&CG: What sets Daily Greens apart from other bottled juice companies and where can people find Daily Greens if they’re interested in purchasing?
SM: Daily Greens juices are always, organic, cold-pressed, vegan, raw and made from whole plants which we source from farmers that we know right here in Texas. There are 4.5 pounds of certified organic and non-GMO produce – the equivalent of 7 USDA servings of vegetables and fruits – pressed into every twelve-ounce bottle of green juice. Our mission is to get an organic green juice into the hands of every American; so that every American can enjoy the health benefits of drinking a daily green juice. Because this is a daily habit, it is important to have lots of variety, as such we are constantly inventing new unique & interesting flavors so that our loyal customers never get bored with their daily green juice. Daily Greens can be found nationwide at retails like Whole Foods Markets, Costco, Target, Safeway, Kroger’s, Sprouts, as well as dozens of other regional and independent retailers. Check out our website for a location near you: www.drinkdailygreens.com.
C&CG: You’re also involved with the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls. What is the purpose of the group?
SM: The Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, is a support network for young women with breast cancer that I founded when I was going through treatment. It is based in Austin, Texas where I live and is a program of the Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas. While the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls are still thriving, I now sit on the Board of the Young Survival Coalition, an international organization that provides support services for young women battling breast cancer as well as support for medical research, advocacy and legislative initiatives for young women with breast cancer. While I am so proud of everything that Daily Greens has accomplished, I am not about to forget my roots and the struggle that lead me to this place. Since inception, Daily Greens has donated 1% percent of sales directly to organizations like the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls and the Young Survival Coalition, that provide support and services to young women battling breast cancer.
C&CG: Do you have any words of wisdom for women who are living with cancer or who have just been diagnosed with a life-threating illness?
SM: Be your own best health advocate. No one, not even your doctor, is in charge. You are. Take control of your health and seek, second, and third opinions until you are satisfied that no stone has been unturned and that you are getting the best possible treatment plan available. But most importantly: Be strong and purpose driven, and know that you inspire others each and every day.
C&CG: And just for fun, because I ask all my guests this question, what’s your favorite vegan meal?
SM: A Daily Greens juice, of course, plus an almond butter and banana sandwich. I love to mix it up and get a little wild and crazy with it. I start with toasted sprouted grain bread then add my favorite almond butter and a sliced banana, Elvis style. Then depending on what is in the fridge I add thinly sliced apples, maybe a touch of mint leaves, and if I am feeling extra feisty maybe even some homemade pickles.
C&CG: Wow, thank you for sharing your story of strength and wellness and showing how something amazing can come from an otherwise challenging situation. Everyone can find inspiration in a story like yours! Sending you continued good health and green juice cheers from one cancer cowgirl to another– yeehaw!
In 2005, Shauna was diagnosed with breast cancer. With a young family to care for, she turned to daily green juicing to recover from the trauma of multiple surgeries and the toxic effects of chemotherapy. After discovering its life-restoring power, she made it her mission to get a green juice into the hands of everyone that she can every day, so that all can thrive as she has.
Founding Daily Greens in 2012, Shauna now works to accomplish this mission through crafting new and delicious recipes and selling her Daily Greens, which are now sold in thousands of retail outlets nationwide.
Shauna is an active advocate for breast cancer issues, serving on the Board of the Young Survival Coalition, an international organization that provides support and services to young women battling breast cancer. Shauna is also the recipient of the Komen Austin, Pink Diamond Ana Sierra Warrior Award, honoring the leading breast cancer advocate in the Austin community. Previously Shauna served for 9 years as a member of the Board of Breast Cancer Resource Centers of Texas. She is also a founding member of the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a social network of young breast cancer survivors, and a frequent speaker and chair of breast cancer fundraising events. In furtherance of Shauna’s mission, a portion of sales of Daily Greens are donated to organizations that provide services to young women battling breast cancer.
Shauna is also the author of the Daily Greens 4-Day Cleanse profiling her journey to health and wellness and the Daily Greens recommended seasonal cleanse, and a frequent speaker about the healing power of food.
Shauna’s story has been featured in numerous national feature segments including: MSNBC News Nation with Tameron Hall, Fox News, Fox Small Business Center, and CNBC; and in a number of national publications such as: Huffington Post Business, Family Circle, InStyle, Glamour, Self, Shape, Redbook and Cooking Light.
Today, Shauna lives in Austin, Texas, drinking her greens, with her 12 year old son, Cooper.
*Daily Greens Green Juice Pack GIVEAWAY*
Shauna has so kindly agreed to gift a pack of the 12 ounce Daily Greens Core Juices to one random U.S. winner. Yay! I’ve tried these juices and even wrote a review on them last year; they are fantastic! They are made from 100% juice (never more than 10% fruit juice) from local produce from farms in and around Austin, Texas. They are great for a full cleanse or if you’d just like to get more leafy greens into your diet.
To enter to win, please leave a comment below sharing your favorite green juice blend (whether you make your own or buy in stores). One winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, October 9, 2016 and notified by email (be sure you’re signed up to receive my blog posts so that I can reach you). Thanks for participating and good luck!