Recap from the 2016 San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium

December “’tis the season” for a lot of things including, believe it or not, breast cancer research. Every year in early to mid-December thousands of doctors, researchers and advocates converge on San Antonio Texas for the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium (SABCS), the largest international breast cancer conference. It’s the season of hearing the latest research updates in the world of breast cancer on everything from surgery and treatment to quality of life. YSC staff and advocates attended again this year to learn about promising (or not so promising) developments, and to share that news with young women who could not attend the conference in person. YSC attendees included YSC RISE advocates Diane Massaglia, Laura D’Alessandro and Sherri Waldvogel as well as YSC RISE Legacy advocates Tracy Leduc, Sueann Mark, Ann Marie Potter, Andrea Hutton and Jeannine Donahue.

YSC's CEO, Jennifer Merschdorf, poses with RISE advocates

YSC CEO, Jennifer Merschdorf, poses with RISE advocates.

Together, we created a YouTube playlist of short videos that highlight some of what we were seeing and hearing at SABCS. Below are some highlights and check out YSC’s YouTube for even more videos and information:

New Agent for Brain Metastases in Clinical Trials

A new agent, Tucatinib (ONT-380) looks promising in treating HER2+ brain metastases. Phase I data was presented in a poster and shown on this video. The Phase 2 HER2CLIMB trial is investigating the efficacy of this drug in combination with capecitabine and trastuzumab for metastatic or locally advanced HER2+ breast cancer including patients with or without brain metastases. Click here for more information on this study.

Scalp Cooling Caps for Hair Loss Prevention

Two exhibitors at the conference displayed their technology for cold caps that women can wear on their heads to prevent hair loss during chemotherapy. Data from a randomized controlled trial was also presented at the conference and showed that 50% of women who used the cold cap technology kept their hair. View our video interview with Dr. Nangia on this topic and RISE Advocate Andrea Hutton demonstrates how the cooling cap works with Dignicap.

POSITIVE Trial to examine Safety of Tamoxifen “Baby Break”

A clinical trial examining whether it is safe to take a “baby break” from Tamoxifen to have a child is now enrolling in the United States. For more information, watch this video.

Liquid Biopsies

Liquid biopsies may find DNA in the blood of metastatic breast cancer patients that can be used to tailor therapy. In the trial reported, for some patients, it meant longer progression-free survival and overall survival. Click here for more information.

POSH Study of Women Ages 18-40 Data Reported

This study had a number of presentations and interesting outcomes. It was a 16-year study of young women diagnosed with breast cancer. It found that BRCA+ young breast cancer patients do not fare worse than non-BRCA patients. For triple negative breast cancer, BRCA mutation carriers actually did better than those without the BRCA mutation. Click here for a YSC video of advocates discussing this study. The study also examined mastectomy vs. lumpectomy in young women. It found a higher rate of local recurrence with lumpectomy but no difference in overall survival. It appears that clear surgical margins and appropriate post-mastectomy chest wall radiation is more important however than the extent of surgery.

PARP Inhibitor for BRCA+ Breast Cancer

For patients with metastatic or locally recurrent BRCA+ breast cancer, adding the parp inhibitor velaparib to chemo increased the responsiveness of the tumor to treatment without added toxicity. Read more about this study here.

YSC’s ‘Shady Pink Elephant’ Presentation

YSC presented a poster on its “Shady Pink Elephant” end-of-life series during one of the SABCS poster sessions. A video about the poster can be viewed here.

Dr. Vogel shouts out YSC!

Dr. Vogel of New York is a SABCS legend known for his hard-hitting and insightful questions asked of study investigators presenting their data. YSC managed to track him down for a quick shout-out. Learn more about Dr. Vogel.



Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

The Power of the Survivor Sisterhood

Early into my treatment I felt isolated and alone, frustrated about the lack of resources available for young women facing a cancer diagnosis. I struggled to find other young women in my area, who would understand what I was going through. The challenges of facing a cancer diagnosis in my 20’s were unique. I had different things to worry about than my older counterparts: intimacy, sex, fertility, working through treatment and body image. The faces I saw in the hospitals and waiting rooms didn’t look like mine. Doctors, nurses and strangers all told me I was too young. Unfortunately, young women can and do get breast cancer. I just so happen to be one of those unlucky women. One of the 12,000 young women diagnosed with breast cancer each year—the ONE out of every eight women under 45 who will face this disease.

Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer at 27 years old.

I was fed up. I wanted to find online resources and blogs written by other women like me. I wanted to read their stories, take in their tips and connect with women who knew what I was facing. I wanted to feel less alone in this nightmare. And that’s how My Cancer Chic was born. I was a lover of all things beauty and fashion, and cancer wasn’t going to change that. Cancer may take my breasts and my hair, but I would keep my lipstick and heels. I would keep my style, and I WOULD find a way to feel beautiful despite it all.


I always loved journaling for myself, but I had never shared my writing with anyone since a creative writing class in middle school. Writing was therapeutic for me—a way to process my grief. I decided if I couldn’t find a story like mine, I would share my own. I didn’t want anyone else to experience the isolation I felt. Lost in a sea of grey hair and mastectomy bras, I wanted to inspire other young women to find their confidence and see their beauty during this awful time. I wanted them to have the confidence to rock the bald head and feel strong and sexy. One woman at a time, I spread my message and led by example.


Sharing Leads to Sisterhood

The more I shared my story, the more I began to connect with other young women. I found these women through my blog, Facebook, Instagram and through friends and family who shared my story. Women began to email me from around the world. They shared stories of their own—their struggles, their fears and the way my honesty, positivity and vulnerability changed their lives and brought them inspiration during times when they felt hopeless.

That changed everything for me. I found my tribe—my sisterhood. I found inspiration and renewed strength in this knowledge. No matter how bad my chemo reactions were, or how many surgical complications I faced, these women lifted me up. On the days I felt ugly, mutilated and betrayed by my body, they just got it. They got me.

As I neared the end of chemo, a major depression set in. I had been so focused on making it from day to day, staying alive, that I had no idea how to just BE. Cancer changed the way I saw the world, and I was fearful of what the future would hold. How would I go back to my “normal” life and continue on? I didn’t feel like me anymore. I felt branded and traumatized. How would I redefine myself at this crossroads?

It was around that time that I learned about Young Survival Coalition. I immediately ordered the Newly Diagnosed Navigator. I wished I had this resource earlier on when I was overwhelmed and needed guidance. I also decided to take a chance and apply for a travel grant* to the 2016 YSC National Summit in Atlanta.


Anna and her husband found support at the 2017 YSC National Summit

Anna and her husband

The Sisterhood Domino Effect

I can say without a doubt that the YSC Summit changed the path of my life. After attending the three-day conference with my husband, I came home with a renewed sense of purpose. I felt beautiful and empowered. I knew that although cancer had changed me, it couldn’t control me. I had control over what I would make of this experience and my life moving forward. I decided to use it for good. It was my turn to give back to this community and change the lives of other young women like me.

The connections I made at YSC triggered a whirlwind of opportunities for me to share my story and advocate for others. I began sharing the YSC guidebooks, filming a video diary series, and this past summer, I also started the first Raleigh support group for young women facing breast cancer. This was yet another avenue for me to support young survivors and make a difference in their lives. In five short months, we have grown from five to more than 35 members, and newly diagnosed women are finding us every day. YSC makes our group easy to find. I collaborate with local specialists, hospitals and healthcare providers to provide my group members with valuable connections and resources. I have come to be known as a local resource, a friend and an inspiration for those around me.

In addition to the support group, I am very active in the YSC online community where I have connected with thousands of women across the US. We share our fears, our struggles and everyday advice for treatment and beyond. We celebrate each other’s triumphs and mourn those we lose. This sisterhood I have joined is unlike anything I have ever known or experienced. These women I call my “survivor sisters” are like family to me. We share a special bond. We are united in our struggle, our triumphs and our rebirth. This illness will not define us. We lift each other up and celebrate each other with love and support. For anyone who has a sister or has been a part of strong group of women, I am sure you can relate to these powerful feelings.


Anna and her Raleigh tribe at a Face 2 Face network night out!

Anna and her Raleigh tribe


With each new survivor I meet, my family circle grows. It’s a domino effect. One connection leads to the next, and before you know it, you’re looped into a plethora of amazing breast cancer resources across the country. No matter where in the world you are, no matter what your background, you are accepted and connected to this lifeline. Despite being strangers, we instantly accept and embrace each other—flaws and all. For those of us that are lucky enough to meet in person, the bond goes even deeper. We can talk for hours sharing our stories, our fears and how cancer has changed our lives. It’s like we’ve known each other for years. As we say in the YSC community: “initiation sucks, but the sisterhood is forever”. I never wanted cancer or the treatment that followed, but I wouldn’t trade this sisterhood I have gained for anything in this world.

Join Anna in California!

If you are lost, struggling to face a cancer diagnosis alone, know that this sisterhood is waiting to welcome you with open arms. The 2017 YSC Summit is coming up on March 10 in Oakland, CA, and this is a great opportunity to connect with other survivors and learn more about life after cancer, fertility, advocacy and the unique challenges we face. I highly recommend you attend. I guarantee you will leave the Summit with tons of new friends, and you will feel empowered and reengaged in life. The YSC Summit also allows for amazing connections with resources and organizations across the country focused on providing care, support and guidance for young women facing breast cancer. I’ll be there with many of my survivor sisters, and I hope you’ll join us for a weekend of education, fun and sisterhood.

If you are already a member of the YSC sisterhood, stop and take a moment to appreciate this gift we have been blessed with—a network of women from all walks of life, spread across the world, holding each other close in their hearts. Whatever the future may hold, this group will be here for you. Like an old friend, always by your side.

Join us on March 10-12, 2017 for the 2017 YSC National Summit in Oakland, CA. Register before January 8th for early bird savings and join the 2017 YSC Summit Facebook event page for important announcements! 

*Due to overwhelming interesting, the travel grant program for the 2017 National Summit has a wait list. If you’re interested in joining us in Oakland, CA and need travel assistance, become a Summit Fundraiser and receive up to $1000 in travel reimbursement. Sign up today! Fee Waivers for Registration are still available. Learn more here

Not in the Raleigh area, but interested in finding your local support group? Our Face 2 Face networks are peer-led social networking groups that offer young women affected by breast cancer an opportunity to connect with other young women in their community. Find your local F2F group or learn how you can start one today!



Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Thoughtful Gifts for Young Women In Treatment

The holidays can be a particularly stressful time for young women affected by breast cancer. While you’re searching for the perfect gifts this holiday season, you may be wondering what to give a friend or loved one who is going through treatment and could use a little extra cheer. Our survivor staff members helped us handpick a list of thoughtful gift suggestions. Add your ideas to this holiday gift guide in the comments below!


1. Curated Gift Boxes

Treatmint Box's Hope Shines Box

Source: Treatmint Box

If we put beauty and inspiration into one box, it would be shipped by Treatmint Box or Fighting Pretty. Both gift box services offer a variety of comfort, entertainment and inspirational items specifically curated for cancer fighters. Examples of some of the items include soaps, journals, scarves and mugs.


2. Motivational Jewelry

Our Jammin Hammer Jewelry Bracelet Can Be Found in the YSC Store

Show your support with some sparkle. Thoughtful mantra jewelry will let your loved one know that she is fierce, she is loved and that she can get through this. Use the code YSCBRACELET for 15% off any of our bracelets through December 31.


3. Intimates and Comfy Apparel Designed for and by Survivors


Kitt Allan's Wear Your Courage TeeA woman facing breast cancer will experience many changes to her body as a result of treatment. Intimates and apparel that not only support, but accentuate each survivor’s beauty are AnaOno and Kitt Allan’s specialty. We love the idea of giving something beautiful from these survivor-designed lines.

Young Women Modeling Ana Ono's bras




Both companies also do their part to give back, donating a portion of their proceeds to YSC. Check out AnaOno’s site and use code LOVEYSC for 15% off your purchase through December 31. Kitt Allan is offering 10% off and doubling their donation to YSC with code YSCGIVE2X.


4. e-Readers

Nothing passes the time like a quiet space and a good book. e-Readers like the Kindle e-Reader make great gifts. For some women, reading can be challenging during treatment, so an Audible Subscription is a nice alternative.


5. Cozy Fleece Blanket

Our YSC Fleece Blanket is a perfect holiday gift

Give the gift of comfort with this cozy fleece blanket from the YSC Shop. This full-body blanket is super soft and perfect for keeping warm on treatment days and cold winter nights. Use the code YSCFLEECE for a 15% discount through December 31. Plus, proceeds from all items in our shop benefit our programs and services for young women affected by breast cancer.


6. Spa Day

Spa Day

What better way to show your affection than planning a day of peace and pampering? SpaFinder is a great tool to search for special deals and offers for spas, resorts and wellness centers in your area. You can also print or email personalized holiday-themed gift certificates.


7. Chemical-free Beauty Products

Pristine Beauty Saucy Siren Gift Set

Our partner, Pristine Beauty, is an oncology approved, cruelty free, natural cosmetics line with a fabulous Old Hollywood feel. Started by a young breast cancer survivor, Pristine Beauty donates a portion of their proceeds back to YSC. The Saucy Siren Gift Set would be excellent for a DIY spa day and pampering at home. Use the code 20PCNT3012 for 20% off any purchase from December 1-30.


8. Pillows and Transport Cushions


If your friend or loved one is currently in treatment, she may need some extra comfort on the go. Surgery, chemotherapy and other treatments can leave you sore and uncomfortable. Handmade mastectomy pillows like these ones found on Etsy and seat belt cushions like this one from Survivor Moda (made by a YSC staffer and young survivor) are wonderful gifts to provide extra relief and support.


9. Adult Coloring Books

Coloring and other creative outlets are great forms of stress relief

Adult coloring books have become a very popular meditative tool. Lots of people find the act of coloring to be a soothing way to distract themselves from the stresses of everyday life. Coloring books come in a wide assortment of themes, from elaborate and whimsical, like Johanna Basford’s Secret Garden, to adult-only humor, like Sasha O’Hara’s Chill the F*ck Out.


10. Arrange a Meal Service

 Holiday Gift Guide for Breast Cancer Survivors

Magnolia Meals and Mealtrain are meal delivery programs that let co-survivors schedule and prepare meals for a young woman currently in, or freshly out of, treatment, something that can be especially welcome during the hectic holidays. These shareable calendars allow loved ones to not only support, but build a community around the survivor in their lives. Meal Train Plus is an option for families that need a bit more support, offering housecleaning and childcare services.


11. Quality Time and Thoughtful Attention

Holiday Gift Guide

Fancy tech gifts and extravagant treats are great for showing someone that they’re in your thoughts, but the best way to let someone know how deeply you care for them is to spend some good ol’ quality time. You can:

– Be a sounding board, listening without judgment.
– Support their expressive art. Read their blog, subscribe to their feed, watch their videos and share it with friends and loved ones.
– Start watching a new TV show or begin a new activity and stay updated together.
– Find or help build a circle of support for them. We offer great ways for young women to connect through our Face 2 Face groups, SurvivorLink and Discussion Boards.
– Continue to check on them even after treatment ends.

Holiday Gift Guide


Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

Tips for a Stress-free Holiday Season

Whether you’re currently going through treatment, recently finished treatment, you’re a long-term survivor, or living with metastatic breast cancer, let us think about the expectations and unique stressors you may face this holiday season. Let us appreciate the importance of self-love and understanding, because your health and well-being are more important than a picture perfect holiday.

To help cope with holiday-induced stress, we compiled a list of 7 tips and resources to help you have a low stress holiday. Share your favorites, and let us know what you do to reduce holiday stress in the comments below.


Stress-Free Holiday Tip #1: Me Time Is Even More Important This Time of Year

Paying attention to how you feel is even more important this time of year. Even if it’s for 30 minutes, block out time for yourself to address your needs.


Stress Free Holiday Tip #2: Being Strong Is Asking For Help

Your loved ones care about you and want to be there for you. Don’t feel like you have to do everything yourself. Build your circle of support with family and friends, and if they offer to help, let them. Supportive websites like Lotsa Helping Hands, Take Them a Meal and Care Pages make it easy to schedule meals, assist with daily chores and errands, organize rides to/from treatment, and help keep people updated.

Are you a co-survivor? Here are 15 ways you can help your loved one diagnosed with breast cancer.

If you’re having difficulty discussing certain topics or feelings with loved ones, don’t feel like you need to keep what you’re feeling in. Seek professional help. Healthcare providers, such as social workers or psychologists, make great objective listeners and can help you cope. Learn more about the relationship between mental health and breast cancer and what role psychological treatment can play in your breast cancer treatment plan.

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #3: It's Okay To Say No

With the holiday season often comes a seemingly countless number of invitations for holiday parties and events. Don’t feel like you have to participate in everything or accept every invitation you receive. Say yes to the people and events that are important to you, and remember, you are more important than any party.

Stress Free Holiday Tip #4: Focus On One Thing At A Time

Studies have shown that multitasking is not as effective as originally thought and can increase stress levels. Slow down, and try to focus on one thing at a time. Remember to stay flexible. Don’t feel guilty if you can’t get everything done or you need to adjust your routine/schedule.

Stress-Free Tip #5: Find What Brings You Joy

A breast cancer diagnosis often comes with a mix of emotions for the person diagnosed (and their co-survivors). It’s important to find a way to tap into what you’re feeling and find an activity that allows you to express emotions that may be difficult to convey. YSC Summit 2016 Speaker, Ali Schaffer, LCSW discussed letting your creativity flow by connecting with your inner creative goddess. For some, writing, dance or other art therapy helps them combat stress, while others find solace in spending time outdoors or getting active. Below is a small list of activities to help you find one that brings you comfort and joy.

Get Creative: use writing, dance, theater, photography or painting/drawing as art therapy to help you reduce stress or distract you from an upcoming medical treatment or visit to the doctor.

Get Active: exercise is a great way to lower stress levels and deal with menopausal changes and/or medication side effects. A short walk around the block or a quiet yoga session can sometimes do the trick. Be sure to talk to your doctor about the best exercises for you.

Get Outside: nature walks, listening to the ocean or enjoying the crisp fall air can be therapeutic and help increase relaxation.

Stress Free Holiday Tip #6: Know Your Holiday Stress-Points

Take a moment to think about your holiday stress points and how you want to handle them. Write down a list of topics or questions that have upset you in the past, and brainstorm responses that will help minimize holiday tension or awkward moments. Discuss your concerns with your co-survivors, and practice your responses. Here’s a list of questions to help you get started:

 – What topics do I not want to discuss?

 – What questions do I not want to answer?

 – Are there certain family members or friends who have upset me in the past?

 – Why did the conversation upset me? What questions did they ask?

Stress-Free Holiday Tip #7: Be Present

It can be easy to get caught up in holiday festivities and expectations for grand gestures or gifts. Allie Vreeland reminded us of the importance of living the life you want and focusing on the now. Try to be present in the moment, and use this holiday season to focus on favorite family traditions and to create special memories with your loved ones.

For young women living with metastatic breast cancer, these favorite traditions and special experiences can help you create a unique legacy for you and your loved ones. Join us at our 2017 National Summit for Leaving a Legacy, a half-day retreat for young women living with metastatic breast cancer and their co-survivors.


Stress-Free Holiday Tip #8: You are Never Alone

If you’re feeling overwhelmed and alone this holiday season, remember, YSC is a community, and we’re always here to help. If you haven’t done so already, now is the perfect opportunity to tap into our resources and find the support you need.
 – Want to talk with someone 1:1? Try our peer mentoring program, SurvivorLink.
 – Want to meet in-person with other young survivors? See if there is a Face 2 Face Network near you or learn how you can start your own today!
 – Want to chat online? Our Online Video Support Groups meet once a month.
 – Want a specific question answered? Our Discussion Boards and Private Facebook Group offer a wide range of conversations about hot topics and issues.




Leave a comment
Categories: Uncategorized

4 Ways To Be A Breast Cancer Advocate Today!

With all the changes happening in Washington DC, you might be concerned about the possible impact on health insurance coverage of cancer patients, especially around pre-existing conditions. We understand your concerns. We will vigilantly monitor the situation around the Affordable Care Act and strive to keep you updated with accurate information. In the meantime, here are some ways you can take action to be your own best advocate.

Sign Our #12Ktoomany petition. A signature can make a difference! Whether you are a young woman diagnosed with breast cancer or care about putting a stop to this disease, show your support by signing today. Please share the link with your friends and family and ask them to sign! We’ll be presenting the signatures to the new administration in January.

Share your story. If you’re comfortable with sharing your story, National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship is collecting stories from cancer survivors who have benefited from the Affordable Care Act.

Contact your representatives. Find your local representative. Call their office to voice your concerns or share the link to the 12K Too Many petition on social media.

Connect with Us. You are not alone! We have support and resources for young women in need. Contact your YSC Regional Field Manager, find your local Face 2 Face Network for young survivors or connect online through our  Online Video Support Groups and private Facebook page.



YSC Regional Field Managers:

Midwest: Medha Sutliff

Northeast : Grace Cook,  

South: Christina Hill,   

West : Mary Ajango,  





Leave a comment
Categories: News & Updates

Exciting Updates from Our Adoption Story

Hi again everyone! For those that aren’t aware, I’ve been sharing updates and information on mine and my husband’s journey with adoption.  As a young woman affected by breast cancer, I wanted to share our journey to becoming parents.

Grace and Barnaby share their adoption story after breast cancer

Grace and Barnaby

Last time we’d just been approved to be adoptive parents, which was a huge step. Since
then we’ve been dealing with the emotional stage of the process. I say that because, up until now, it’s been about paperwork and admin. I found out my husband is great at this…and I thought I was organized! Since then we’ve started the process of talking with birth mothers. As I explained in my previous blog, before embarking on this, we had training from a great specialist, who is experienced at talking with birth mothers. I would highly recommend this because she taught me ways to communicate I hadn’t even thought of. Ultimately, this is about the birth mother investigating you, not the other way around. She needs to feel comfortable chatting about who you are, your background and whether she feels you’re right to take on the enormous responsibility, and honor, of parenting their baby. I can’t think of a more emotionally charged situation, so please know it’s completely normal to feel nervous and overwhelmed. It helped me to remember no-one is more scared than her.

This stage is different for everyone because, let’s face it, we’re all unique. I can tell you my experiences, but it will always be different for you. What I have learned is the smallest things can peak a birth mother’s interest. Friends of ours have just adopted a baby boy and his birth mother saw a Star Wars poster in the background of one of their pictures, so she called! For us, we’re currently speaking with a birth mom who loved that we live in Brooklyn. It’s always been her dream to see New York and she wants that for her child.  

I don’t have a ton of links and useful resources to share this time, but that’s probably because it’s an intense time for our small family. We’re relying on each other for support but also taking any advice given. We’ve joined a ton of Facebook groups and also joined Baby Center Community. Say yes to hearing any experiences and use the platforms that are available to you.

Alongside the conversations with birth mothers, there’s always the knowledge that things may not work out. Adoption is a complex layer of emotions and experiences. While it may seem like a good outcome is on the horizon, we’re being sure to protect ourselves, but also know we’ll be parents eventually. I’m sure there will be disappointments, but as long as you have the support infrastructure you need, you’ll always have someone to help you get through it. I hope I can play a small part in that!


Grace FoxtonYSC’s Northeast Regional Field Manager, has agreed to share her adoption journey with us because as a young woman affected by breast cancer, she hopes her experience will help other young women with the logistics of the adoption process. Check out her first post Our Decision to Adopt and her post with next step tips for those interested in adoption. 

This Saturday is National Adoption Day, a collective, national effort to raise awareness of more than 100,000 children in foster care waiting for permanent and loving families. For more adoption resources, check out AdoptUSKids and


Comments (2)
Categories: Resources & Support

Figuring Out the Why and Using It to Drive Your Passion

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 was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of thirty-three. My life was flashing before my eyes as I struggled with the question if I was ready to die or not. It did not take me long to conclude I was not ready to die. I had a young child to live for! I knew I had to muster up 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, left me weak, bald and hopeless.

After all that, my doctors told me I still had up to 40% chance of a recurrence. 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.

Using A Breast Cancer Diagnosis To Drive Passion

Daily Green's Founder turned to plant-based diet after breast cancer diagnosis

I decided to investigate diet because I heard that food could have powerful healing attributes. I read everything I could get my hands on, and my journey led me to understand that a plant-based diet filled with raw vegetables could not only help detox my body from my breast cancer treatment, but it could potentially reduce my chances of a recurrence of my breast cancer. I was excited to find something that would finally be under my control. I found 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 started to regain my energy, my hair quickly grew back, and my skin and eyes started to glow. I was blown away and determined that the right thing for me was to move to a fully plant-based diet.

It took several years of slowly eliminating animal protein from my diet, but when I finally got there, the results were amazing. Ten years later, I am still vegan and follow a plant-based diet, and it enables me to be the best version of myself each and every day.

I was so enthusiastic about my newfound fountain of youth that I could not keep it to myself. I started to share the benefits of a plant-based diet and drinking daily green juice with my friends and family. Over the years I had many converts, but after several months most would conclude that it was too difficult to use their juicer on a daily basis. I realized if I was going to get folks to stick to drinking a daily green juice, I was going to have to make it for them.


Turning Passion Into a Business

So after practicing corporate law for 18 years, I decided to 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 daily green juice into the hands of every American. In December 2012, with the help of my cousin, I made 60 bottles of green juice, 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 nationally distributed in over 3,000 retail outlets.

Daily Greens Founder Shauna Martin discusses turning Breast Cancer Diagnosis To Drive Passion

I am so proud of everything that Daily Greens has accomplished, but I will not forget my roots and the struggle that lead me to this place. I will never forget the amazing services I received from Young Survival Coalition all those years ago. I was bald and still in treatment when I attended the YSC National Summit for the first time. I will never forget the feeling of walking into a room with 500+ other young women with breast cancer. I said to myself, “I am not alone”. Words can’t describe the overwhelming feeling of sisterhood and companionship I felt at that conference. 

When I started Daily Greens, I knew I wanted our mission to include raising money and awareness for YSC and other organizations that provide services to young women battling breast cancer. Since its inception, Daily Greens has donated a percent of our sales directly to Young Survival Coalition in support of their amazing mission to ensure no young women face breast cancer alone!

Eleven years later, I now know the answer to the ‘Why?’ I was meant to go on my breast cancer journey so that I could help bring a message of health and hope!


Join us in Oakland, CA for 3 inspiring days of learning and leave feeling empowered. Connect with other young survivors and co-survivors who understand what you’re going through and hear from expert speakers addressing the unique issues–like fear of recurrence, health wellness, medical and research updates, dating and relationships, and leaving a legacy–that young women with breast cancer face.

The Early Bird registration fee is $145 per person until January 8, 2017, and then $160 until March 3. Fee waivers and travel grants are available to those who qualify, and fundraising options are available to offset expenses.

About the Author

Shauna R. Martin is the Founder & CEO, Daily Greens and the creator of Daily Greens 4-day Cleanse. In January of this year, she joined YSC’s board of directors.

Comment (1)

Breast Cancer Awareness Does Not End Today

Although today marks the end of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, breast cancer awareness does not end today. We must continue to take action year-round to ensure that young women stop dying from this disease.

This month we focused on the realities of breast cancer. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women ages 15-39 and young women face greater mortality rates and an increased risk of metastatic (or stage IV) recurrence.

With the help of Spencer Kohn and Zach Jopling, we created our #12Ktoomany photo series where breast cancer survivors confront their struggles. We’re grateful for the young women who opened up about how their diagnosis changed their day-to-day lives and what the word ‘survivor’ means to them. Thank you to Spencer and Zach for capturing and creating beautiful imagesand a video that mirrors the reflection of breast cancer’s collateral damage on these young women.

Mercedes from our #12Ktoomany photo series for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Allie V from our #12Ktoomany photo series. Photo by Spencer Kohn

We welcomed guest bloggers to discuss their realities living with metastatic breast cancer. Allie discussed how she turned her metastatic diagnosis into an opportunity to focus on today and live the life she wants. Melissa discussed the hopes and fears she silently carries each day. Lara helped us understand the importance of living life over cancer and not only celebrating the ‘happy stories’ but telling the whole story. Thank you to Michelle for reminding us that we must continue to push for research and action because the young women who are no longer with us deserved more. The young women living with metastatic breast cancer deserve more, and it’s on us to be the driving force to demand action.

Ways to Continue Breast Cancer Awareness

Continue the conversation about the signs and risk factors of breast cancer–especially in young women. Help your family and friends understand how they can decrease their risk of breast cancer. Download and share our Breast Health and You Guide.

Join us in California for our West Regional Symposium this Saturday in Long Beach, CA. Online registration is now closed, but you can still register on-site. Registration for our 2017 Summit in Oakland, CA will open this week. Sign up to get notified about registration and other Summit details as they become available.

Advocate for the 12,000 young women who will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Our goal is to collect 12,000 signatures by December 31 and present our #12Ktoomany petition to the new President in January. We are still 8,400 signatures away from our goal.

Volunteer and become a peer mentor for other young women affected by breast cancer. Our SurvivorLink program helps young women find the priceless support, wisdom and understanding that they need. Sign up to get updates about local volunteer opportunities and how you can get involved as an Ignite volunteer.

Drive metastatic research forward by joining the Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, a nationwide project for patients, doctors, and scientists that collects tumor samples and patient medical for researchers to analyze and ultimately leads to a better understanding of metastatic breast cancer. We are proud to an advocacy partner and help MBC Project drive research and therapy development forward.

Leave a comment

Breast Cancer Symptoms in Young Women and Your Breast Health

Unless you have been living under a rock, you are likely very aware of breast cancer. But what you might not know is that young women CAN and DO get breast cancer. I always thought breast cancer was a disease that only impacted women my mother or grandmothers age. I had no idea that the disease also affected young women until my own diagnosis at age 27, while pregnant with my first child.

Young survivors holding signs with their age at diagnosis.

Young survivors holding signs with their age at diagnosis.

What you might now know…

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women ages 15 to 39. And more than 12,000 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in women under age 40 every year in the U.S. While breast cancer can not be prevented, being an informed and empowered advocate can go a long way for your health. Here is what you need to know:


Breast Cancer Risk Factors

Risk factors include anything that increases your chance of developing breast cancer. There are some risk factors you can control and others you cannot.


Our Breast Health and You booklet can help you understand breast health, breast cancer symptoms and risks

Download our Breast Health and You guide

Risk factors you CANNOT control

  • – The fact that you are a woman
  • – Getting older
  • – Family history of breast cancer
  • – Having breast cancer in the past
  • – Chest exposure to radiation when you were a child or teenager
  • – First menstrual period earlier than age 12


Risk factors that you CAN control

  • – Maintain a healthy weight
  • – Limit alcohol use
  • – Exercise regularly
  • – Have your first child before age 30, if possible
  • – Breastfeed, if possible

TIP: Talk to your family about a history of breast or other cancers on both sides of your family. Use the handy family tree in YSC’s Breast Health & You Guide.


Signs & Symptoms of Breast Cancer

It is important to understand that you are looking for more than just a lump. Get familiar with your breasts and aware of the signs and symptoms of breast cancer.  Nearly 80% of young women diagnosed with breast cancer find their abnormality themselves.  Tell your doctor right away if you notice any changes in your breasts. 

  • – A lump or unusual thickening in the breast or underarm area
  • – A change in color or rash on the skin of the breast
  • – Unusual nipple discharge
  • – Swelling of all or part of the breast
  • – A change in size or shape of the breast
  • – Itchy, sore or scaling of the nipple
  • – Dimpling on breast skin or nipple turning inward
  • – Breast or nipple pain that does not go away

If you experience any of the above symptoms, consult your physician. If your concern is not taken seriously, you may have to insist on discussing whether further testing is appropriate. 

What Can You Do?

Breast cancer cannot be prevented, but there are ways you can achieve an overall healthy lifestyle in mind, body and spirit to decrease your risk.

  • – Eat balanced meals with many fruits and vegetables.
  • – Drink plenty of water.
  • – Get regular exercise.*
  • – Support bone health through physical activity* and appropriate intake of vitamin D and calcium.
  • – Limit your alcohol use to no more than one glass a day.
  • – Get enough rest.
  • – Reduce stress.
  • – Pray, meditate or just find private time for yourself.
  • – Make time for enjoyable and fun activities.
  • – Do not smoke.

*Check with your doctor before starting any physical activities.

TIP: Check your local community or recreation center for free or low-cost fitness, dance or yoga classes.

For additional facts, how to talk to your doctor and more, download or order YSC’s free Breast Health and You Guide.

Not sure how to help someone facing breast cancer? Explore 15 ways you can help.

We urge you to sign our #12Ktoomany petition now.

Help us reach our goal–to collect 12,000 signatures to represent the 12,000 young women who will be diagnosed under 40 this year in the US. Because we need to stop losing the women we love.


Comment (1)
Categories: Resources & Support

Turning the Corner

Changing My Identity

In December 2006, I was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer at the age of 38. At this point in my life, my identity was wife, mother of three boys–ages 3, 2, and 11 months–and lecturer of occupational therapy. In a moment, my identity changed to breast cancer patient. My personal journey through treatment was arduous with life threatening surgical complications, overwhelming due to chemotherapy side effects and anxiety-filled “waiting for the other shoe to drop.”

As an occupational therapist, I had helped many people reconstruct their lives after illness and traumatic accidents. Now, I found myself having to reconstruct my own life. I was adrift and needed to figure out my roles of mom, wife, breast cancer survivor, occupational therapist and lecturer. My mother-in-law, offered some sage advice–that one day I would wake up and have turned the corner. Now I’ll be honest here, I’m a little impatient and was constantly looking for the corner.

Finding That Corner

Ann Marie hanging out with her two boys while in treatment.

While in treatment, I attended the YSC National Summit in Washington D.C. One session focused on advocacy and the National Breast Cancer Coalition’s work. Now this was something I could get into! I was able to see the direct relationship between advocacy, research and my own treatment. It was clear there was a lot more work to be done. In my mind, I was trying to put together how all my roles interconnected.

I quickly realized that occupational therapy should be included in cancer treatment. For example, I was told not to lift more than 30 pounds, yet no one offered me any advice or strategies of how to take care of a 30+ pound toddler. This is something I would address with a client if they couldn’t take care of their child. I also thought about energy conservation and lymphedema prevention and role performance.  As I bumbled along in a post treatment haze, I was approached by some OT graduate students that wanted to do their research project related to breast cancer. We decided to look at how roles change for women with breast cancer. Things were beginning to mesh for me and I saw that I could contribute to research on survivorship using my skills as an occupational therapist.


Ann Marie presenting research at the Advanced Breast Cancer Consensus Conference in Lisbon Portugal in 2013.

Back To School

I attended NBCC’s Project Lead in 2010. During lunch, I discussed my work as an occupational therapist and spoke of my interest in survivorship research. I was encouraged to look at cognition and how it changes related to breast cancer treatment, and how it impacts everyday life. As I reassessed where I was at, I decided that it was time to go back to school for a PhD so I could do better research. I enrolled at Virginia Commonwealth University in the Health Related Sciences-Occupational Therapy Doctoral Program. Between attending boys soccer and little league games and helping with homework– it was the support of my family and work colleagues who helped me balance life and being a student.

Where It All Lead

Now I am a doctoral candidate. I’m currently researching the impact of breast cancer treatment on cognition and functional performance. Many a breast cancer survivor has complaints of cognitive changes, but we really haven’t quantified how much this impacts our abilities to do our everyday life activities. Occupational therapy has been named a first line intervention for cancer associated cognitive impairment by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. So there is a need within my profession to learn more about the cognitive and functional changes after cancer treatment. My cancer journey hasn’t been mapped out well, but I have turned the corner. I’m now able to put together the meaningful things in my life.

The Impact of Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy for Breast Cancer on Cognition and Functional Performance

Ann Marie is currently enrolling individuals, who are Stage 1-3, nearing the completion of treatment–chemotherapy only, radiation only or chemotherapy and radiation. For more information about the study, click here



Comment (1)