‘We never saw this coming. I’ve been very emotional because it’s been five years since my diagnosis. It’s incredible to have come so far.’
“Five years ago, I went through a routine mammogram and sonogram appointment. The mammogram was normal, but the sonogram detected a tumor. A biopsy confirmed that it was stage 2 breast cancer, with it also being in some lymph nodes. I didn’t have a family history. I was in pretty good shape, and I took care of myself. It was shocking and devastating.
“It was a long process, and I had to have surgery and radiation. It was six weeks back and forth to Manhattan for radiation. I was always on the go, and I would frequently just have a protein bar with me. That’s how I got through a lot of my days. Once I was done with everything, I made the decision to put myself back into shape, both mentally and physically. I was 52 at the time. There are things that you can’t control, but there are things you can control, like what you put in your mouth and how you take care of your body. I went to a nutritionist, and she said protein bars are processed and filled with sugar. She didn’t believe in sweets and desserts. She would tell me to take a walk around the block after dinner to get rid of any dessert cravings.
“That didn’t work. I started lying in my food journal and I would complain to Scott, my husband, because I just wanted something sweet. He went about looking for recipes, and he came up with this protein ball. It was exactly what I needed. I was still recovering, so for him to do that for me really just helped me be able to continue on in my healing journey. I wanted to take better care of myself and eat cleaner, healthier and be stronger.
“Fast-forward, and we partnered up with that same nutritionist to sell Scott’s Protein Balls to her customers. We were still making them in our kitchen when we first started selling them to bagel stores. Recently, we began donating 1 percent of all of our sales to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Scott calls us accidental entrepreneurs because we didn’t have any experience with this. We never saw this coming. I’ve been very emotional because it’s been five years since my diagnosis. It’s incredible to have come so far. We were so low five years ago, and it’s amazing to be here where we are now and that we’re able to give back.”
When your partner is going through something like this, it’s a very helpless feeling.
“When your partner is going through something like this, it’s a very helpless feeling. I can’t take the pain away, and I can’t take the procedures away. I would have done all of that if I could, but I couldn’t do anything besides be there for her. She’s tough. We got the diagnosis the day before her birthday, just as we were leaving for the airport for our son’s graduation in Michigan the next day. All that hit at one time, and she managed to get through it and come out stronger at the end of the day.
“When she went to the nutritionist and was told she couldn’t have any more protein bars, I could’ve gone to the health food store and figured something else out, but I wanted it to be more personal. I wanted it to be meaningful. I knew I could finally do something to help. I was always commuting to work, and she was always on the go as well. I wanted to do something for her. I found a simple recipe, and I started adding some ingredients. I needed a certain number of calories and certain grams of sugar. I started playing with a spreadsheet and adding how much of every ingredient to put in, and that’s really how I ended up coming up with numbers that worked. After a bunch of trial and error, I perfected it.
“We started with a peanut butter cacao for ourselves, and then our friends were asking for them. Then, we had people asking for peanut butter substitutes and nut-free and so on. That’s why I like to say we’re accidental entrepreneurs. It was a lot of back-and-forth and late nights to come up with flavors that work. So much of what we eat is processed, and since all the sugar products hit the market, all these other diseases have just exploded. It just feels like the time to have a cleaner product – something not processed – is right now. Our ingredients are thrown in the bowl, mixed up, made into balls and frozen. That’s it. It doesn’t use any processed ingredients or artificial colors or preservatives. It’s so important to eat healthy, and I’m just happy I was able to help her in any way I could.”