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Tina Crow was diagnosed with Stage Three colorectal cancer in 2004 at age 36, after having her symptoms misdiagnosed as Irritable Bowel Syndrome and cancer ruled out by doctors because she was "too young." Surrounded by a strong and supportive network including her mother and husband John, Tina not only survived the chemotherapy, radiation, and the trauma of surgery, but found hidden strength and resolve to help her follow her dreams in the face of adversity. "Cancer made me push myself to do what I can while I could, because you don't know what tomorrow will bring," says Tina.
How and when did you decide to open an animal sanctuary?
I have had a compassion for animals and knew I wanted to spend my life trying to help them for as long as I can remember. A farm sanctuary seemed like the perfect way to achieve that goal but it would take years to happen. After being diagnosed with a stage three cancer and surviving the treatment I realized I better start doing the things that are important to me. As soon as I was well enough, my husband and I started looking for property. In 2011, Green Acres Farm Sanctuary became a 501(c)(3) non-profit.
Describe a day in your life.
I am up by sunrise and try to give myself an hour to just be. Every morning I enjoy a bowl of oatmeal and always put the nearly empty bowl down for our cat, Sooner, to finish. I walk the 28-acre property with our dogs Larkin, Buchanan, and Tehama before heading out to feed the more than 125 animals that call Green Acres Farm Sanctuary home. By the time everyone is fed and some routine cleaning is done, it's time for a quick lunch. Anything vegan will do! I try to get some office work in or running to pick up supplies. Late afternoon I take a break with a smoothie that consists of almond milk, soy yogurt, banana and frozen local fruit. Back to more chores and evening feedings. After dinner, I close the doors of the barns and coops to ensure the animals’ safety through the night. And still there is more office work to be done and emails to return before I can go to bed!
Do you have stress in your life?
Yes, yes, and yes, I have stress! It takes so much time and energy to keep a non-profit running, from worrying about the wellbeing of the animals, to raising funds to pay for their care. There are more animals in need than any one sanctuary can help, and that weighs heavy on my heart.
What are some of the ways you manage stress?
I hug a goat, brush a horse, or hand-feed a turkey! I also have a wonderful Neuromuscular Massage therapist, Anne Barber-Shams, who helps to relieve the stress and pain my body holds onto.
You beat cancer and are now—happily!—in remission. What does “wellness” mean to you today?
I still grapple with the long-term effects of my cancer and treatment of surgeries, radiation, and chemotherapy. There are permanent problems that I have learned to deal with but don't like. I try to push through the bad days and run full steam on the good days because life is short and there is a lot to do.
Do you have a favorite travel destination?
I live at my favorite destination! Each year, as Green Acres Farm Sanctuary grows, the property becomes more special. New barns mean more animals
How do you unwind after a hard day?
There is nothing better than driving your truck down a country road on a warm summer evening with the windows down and the music up. We have a goat named Kodiac Jack who I call my “Buddha.” A hug and a rub on his big belly and I am relaxed.
Do you have any specific beauty products that you are faithful to?
I don't wear make-up never really did. I have used a variety of products from Nature's Gate for as long as I can remember. They are one of the first vegan/cruelty free companies making personal care products that I learned about decades ago as a very young vegan.
How would you describe your personal style?
I don't think of myself as having style, so let’s just call it "sanctuary shabby." A Green Acres Farm Sanctuary logo shirt, jeans, purple Bogs, and if it's cold, a fuchsia Carhartt jacket and a beanie. Before going to town, if I remember, I'll take off the muck boots and sport a pair of Converse hi tops. Most of our home is furnished with flea market finds yard sale and thrift store scores. Needless to say, I feel more comfortable at a feed store, the lumber yard or a second hand store.
Want to support Tina's good work for abused, neglected, and abandoned farm animals? Visit Green Acres' website at www.greenacresfarmsanctuary.org and make a donation!
Swell! Spring Edition