Talk about perseverance!
Taneea Yarborough fulfilled her dream of opening a plant based restaurant in Baltimore, just two weeks before undergoing a bilateral double mastectomy after being diagnosed with breast cancer, Essence reports.
The 30-year-old former school principal and her husband had dreams of opening up the Gangster Vegan franchise in the heart of Baltimore. Their goal was to provide residents with access to healthier food options. When Yarborough was diagnosed with breast cancer, she was determined to not let that stop her. This past September, they opened their doors.
Yarborough spoke to Essence about what fueled that determination. “One thing that being a 30-year-old cancer survivor has taught me is that time is a luxury, and I will never take it for granted again! I knew I wanted to share our mission with as many people as possible, and honestly, I didn’t have the benefit of waiting until everything was perfectly ready,” she said.
As a former principal, Yarborough was able to see first hand the impact of wellness on children and adults, from poor school lunches and food options for students to lack of stress management for teachers. That environment was the spark that led her to create Gangster Vegan DMV. But the journey was not without challenges.
“I think one of the biggest challenges in this entire process of opening a restaurant was balancing my health (at the time I was getting weekly chemotherapy) with the demands of being an entrepreneur with a brand-new business. Nothing about this process was made easier for me because I was fighting cancer. So, I went to the doctor 2-3 times a week, and still was spending 50-hour weeks in the store,” Yarborough told Essence.
Two weeks after her grand opening, she had her mastectomy and reconstruction surgery. While she is now officially a breast cancer survivor, the new restaurant owner said her wellness is still priority. “If I am being completely honest, I don’t think I have overcome that diagnosis. I am a new survivor, so I am very much still taking it day by day. My wellness routine, which includes a plant-based diet, talk therapy, meditation, journaling – amongst other things — have enabled me to have a few more good days during this journey,” Yarborough said.
Yarborough also had some advice for anyone looking to transition to a plant based lifestyle. “Drink quality water, get sun, move your body, and pay attention to what makes you feel good. We can’t control everything, but we do control what we consume. As a survivor, it’s important for me to tell people that you still have an opportunity to take control of your health and that it is definitely worth it!.”
Photo Courtesy of @GangsterVeganDMV/Essence