Today we are happy to welcome Kayle Martin of Cowgirls & Collard Greens. Learn how Kayle beat cancer with the help of a pure vegan diet, positive attitude and a pair of kickass cowgirl boots!
Shortly after my thirtieth birthday I left the comforts of my Northern California home, my job, and many friends to make a move out east. It was 2008 and I landed in the middle of nowhere —rural eastern Oklahoma to be exact. I was chosen amongst my family to be the caretaker of my ailing grandparents on their 200 acre cattle ranch. My daily chores consisted of physical labor on the farm, buying groceries, paying bills and being the overall care support for my grandparents. Life seemed hard. It seemed no one in the small town of 3,000 understood me. My accent was different. The clothes I wore were different. My car was different, and I most certainly ate differently. Being a vegetarian since the 6th grade seemed easy in California, but not so much in the middle of cattle country. Finding decent food was a challenge. And, just when I thought things couldn’t get more challenging, they did. I felt a lump. I had a mammogram and then a biopsy. It was serious. Enter breast cancer diagnosis # 1.
No matter how many pink-haired My Little Pony toys you grew up playing with or how many Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood episodes you watched, you’re never prepared for a diagnosis of a life-threatening illness. Never. The tumor was the size of a large grape, but thankfully the cancer cells hadn’t spread to any other parts of my body. Shock, overwhelm, anger and sadness were the emotions I felt in those first few weeks after the big news. But the negativity and doubt could only last so long. I refused to be a Debbie Downer. Just as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that,” I let go of the darkness and placed a bright light in its place. More like a disco ball in fact. The light, and sparkles I might add, came from a stowed away place inside of me —the place of make-believe and a place where doubt couldn’t exist.
Following the diagnosis a lot of my time was spent going to and from doctors’ appointments, but I mostly submersed myself in all things cancer via the Internet. It wasn’t until I came across Kris Carr’s film Crazy Sexy Cancer that I started to feel a turnaround. Kris was about the same age as me when she received a cancer diagnosis- even more serious than mine. She took full advantage of all the things that life had to offer. She changed her thoughts, she changed her diet, she put her cancer panties on and she decided to fully embrace life. I followed in her footsteps and did the same, only I searched for the perfect pair of cowgirl boots and I put them on, just as I would a magic shield to serve as a barrier from the dark side. They really helped.
Next to my positive emotional changes, perhaps the biggest change I made was my diet. Looking back on all the years as a vegetarian, I came to realize what a huge junk food vegetarian I was. I ate anything and everything with the exception of meat. I was at least 25 pounds overweight, and determined I needed to cut out all sugar and animal products to stop cancer growth. It wasn’t until then that my new love affair with green vegetable juice would be born (see my favorite recipe below).
Immediately after having the tumor surgically removed, I enrolled myself in all things vegan. Just three months after my diagnosis for which my doctors wanted to start traditional treatment of chemotherapy and radiation, I opted for the back-to-nature approach instead. I attended the Living Foods Institute in Atlanta, Georgia on scholarship and immersed myself in sprouting, dehydrating, blending, chopping and food processing instead. It paid off, or so I thought.
After exactly one year on a 100% raw vegan diet without any allopathic treatments for cancer, I received some overwhelming news. Following a routine MRI scan I learned the cancer had returned or was never completely gone to begin with. Hello breast cancer diagnosis #2. Though I was thrown for a mental loop, I stayed strong and continued on my alternative health plan of “let thy food be thy medicine” as well as adding allopathic treatments to my regime. After five surgeries including a unilateral mastectomy, four rounds of chemotherapy and six weeks of radiation, all the while continuing my diet plan, I am proud to say I was never sick. Nope, not once. I am convinced that it was a combination of my disco ball shimmer-healthy-attitude, my glowing green juice, and my cowgirl boots that kept me strong.
Last month I celebrated my five-year cancer-versary and am happy to report that I am totally cancer-free! Who knew that a life-threatening illness would be the greatest gift ever given to me? It’s my hope that by sharing my story I can help inspire others to live happier, healthier lives. Yeehaw!
The Green Cowgirl (Cancer-kickin’ Green Juice recipe)
* Purchase only organic veggies when possible and wash thoroughly before use.
Makes 2-3 servings
- 2 cucumbers (peel first if not organic)
- 3-4 stalks of celery
- 4-5 stalks of kale
- 4-5 leaves of romaine lettuce
- small handful of cilantro
- small handful of parsley
- 1 lemon or lime (remove rind but leave as much of the white pith as possible. Did you know the pith contains bioflavonoids, which also have cancer-fighting properties? Yeehaw!)
- 1” (or smaller) piece of ginger root
Run all of the above through your favorite juicer (I love my Breville Icon) in no particular order. If you are new to green juicing you may want to add a low glycemic fruit such as a pear or apple to make the taste more drinkable at first. It’s best to drink fresh juice as soon as possible otherwise vital enzymes and nutrients oxidize. If you’re saving some for later, be sure to store in airtight container (such as a mason jar) in refrigerator. Drink within 24 hours.
Once a cowgirl, always a cowgirl!
Kayle Martin grew up in Grass Valley in the heart of Northern California’s Gold Country, romping through wildflowers, climbing trees, swimming in creeks, riding horses and caring for a slew of animals on a five-acre farm with her single mom.
A lover of nature and animals for as long as she can remember, Kayle became a vegetarian in the 6th grade after her beloved cow, Cupcake, ended up on her dinner plate.
Years later, after being diagnosed with breast cancer at the ripe young age of thirty, Kayle made the transition from a vegetarian to a vegan diet. She has been living an animal-free lifestyle for nearly five years and is totally cancer free!
She shares her cancer story with others at conferences and on radio programs and was recently featured as the “Survivor Story” in Keep A Breast’s magazine and most recently was a guest on The Vegan Zombie’s YouTube cooking show.
Kayle’s free time is spent juicing greens, counseling newly diagnosed breast cancer patients at her local hospital, seeking out new vegan restaurants, blogging, and living a life full of F-U-N! You can find out more information about Kayle by visiting her website Cowgirls & Collard Greens: www.cowgirlsandcollardgreens.com