Survivor Stories 2013:
1. How did you first find out you had cancer?
I was diagnosed on my son’s first birthday. It was not until after I stopped breastfeeding him and things shrank back to their normal size that I realized that I had good sized lump that just did not seem to be going away.
So, finally one day I called my gynecologist and went in for an appointment. He told me that it was probably just a clogged milk duct and nothing to worry about, but he wrote me a script for an ultrasound anyway. I let that lay around on the seat of my car for a couple weeks and then finally decided to take it seriously and called and made an appointment at a local women’s imaging center all the while thinking: “There is no way I have any type of cancer, I am too young and too healthy. What are the odds?”
When I finally went for the ultrasound, what the technician and I both saw on the screen was alarming. There was indeed a big black spot in the middle of my breast. They quickly whisked me off for a mammogram and indicated that they were going to recommend a biopsy. My gynecologist called me within minutes of receiving the results and told me to make an appointment with a surgeon for a surgical biopsy. His nurse said that if I could not get in with the doctor they recommended that I should immediately see anyone else in the practice that was available. I slowly became alarmed.
What scared me was the fact that each new person that looked at my mammogram seemed to become increasingly concerned for me. So that is how I came to find myself lying on a surgeon’s exam table as he performed a needle and core biopsy of a very large lump in my breast on my son’s 1st birthday and what should have been a day of joy and celebration.
2. How did you react when you heard the news?
I will never forget the day my doctor uttered those horrifying words “I am sorry to tell you, but that is a cancer tumor that you have in your left breast.” I was 33 years old, and my life changed forever. I did not cry, but strained instead to listen to my doctor in an attempt to comprehend the magnitude of the situation. Meanwhile, all I could think about was that I was too young to die. My mind, body and soul seemed to scream the thought over and over again. I quietly watched portions of my life flash before my eyes…..my beautiful wedding to my husband on a hilltop overlooking the ocean in Fiji, the birth of my beautiful son one year prior…
I kept asking myself “How at the age of 33 did I come to have breast cancer?” I came from a healthy family with no history of cancer. I am very healthy (aside from the breast cancer). I exercise regularly, eat well, and have regular check-ups. In fact, it was I who first found the lump and had the initiative to go see my gynecologist.
3. What course of treatment were you prescribed?
Chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy, 6 years of hormone therapy and finally removal of my ovaries at the age of 39. My sister was also diagnosed the same year, so our physicians determined there was likely a generic component despite the fact that we did not test positive for the gene.
4. What most surprised you about your treatment?
The amount of pain that I could endure never ceased to amaze me. My double mastectomy was one of the most painful things I have ever experienced. Here is the blow by blow in the blog posting about the experience.
5. What would your advice be to anyone who’s just received a cancer diagnosis?
You are not alone! Don’t be afraid to ask for help. You are your best health advocate. Ask lots of questions and demand answers from your doctors.
6. How long have you been cancer free?
7. What lessons did you learn from the experience?
To live in the present, but plan for a glorious future. As a young survivor, every day, I look at my son and husband and give thanks for the wonderful life I am blessed to call my own. Not all of us are so lucky and not all of us will make it to see our sons grow up and become men. I plan on being one of the lucky ones — to live to see my son graduate from college and get married and to grow old with my husband.
8. If you could send one message to all the Good Enough Mothers out there – what would it be?
My message to everyone is one of vigilance. You, and only you, are responsible for your body and your health. When you feel something suspicious, get a mammogram, an MRI, a CT scan, a biopsy or whatever else it takes to get an answer as to exactly what it is. And don’t ever take no for an answer. If one doctor blows you off, find another. Lastly, I like to say “Feel Your Boobies” every day. If you don’t want to feel them yourself than have your boyfriend, husband or lover do it for you.
And if you find a lump, for God’s sake go find out what it is!
Shauna Martin is CEO and founder of Daily Greens, a raw, cold-pressed green juice company based in Austin, Texas.
Raised in Norman, Arkansas, Shauna moved to Texas to practice corporate law, after obtaining her BA from the University of Central Arkansas and her JD from the University of Arkansas School of Law.
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. She now accomplishes this through her Daily Greens, which are sold in Whole Foods and other specialty stores throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. Shauna plans to take Daily Greens national by 2014.
After 16 years practicing law, Shauna has now made Daily Greens her full-time gig. She is co-founder of the Pink Ribbon Cowgirls, a social network of young breast cancer survivors, and is a frequent speaker and chair of breast cancer fundraising awards. A portion of the sales of Daily Greens will be set aside to grant funding to additional support groups in other cities across the US.
Today, Shauna lives in Austin, Texas, drinking her vegetables, with her husband, Kirk, and their son, Cooper.