Who Is Cheryl Shuman?
"If You Knew Exactly How Much Time You Had Left to Live Life As You Know It....
...How Would You Live the Rest of Your Life?
On December 18, 2006, I was diagnosed with a terminal illness. I have learned to live each day as if it might be my last. To best describe my "life story" it's somewhat like a fairy tale, soap opera and chick flick combined in a video diary that I'm sharing with you over the internet. My goal is to get to know you while I can and make the best of every minute that I have now. I grew up as a child of poverty with one of those "rags to riches stories". The media has referred to me as the "Real Life Beverly Hillbilly". I hope that it will be inspirational.
There's a saying that when you're dying, your entire life flashes before your eyes. In my case, I've worked in television and celebrities practically my entire adult life. I started keeping a video journal in 1974 to record my thoughts and experiences. I was always too tired to write in a journal, but I found my video camera to be my best friend and confidant'. It is my hope that as I review some of my history, memories and experiences with you that you will learn, laugh and grow and perhaps even be inspired by being a part of my life as I embark upon this journey with you. Because I don't know what my future holds, my plan is to simply try to live each and every day to the fullest extent possible and to share that with you :-) It is my sincere hope that we can become friends and get to know each other. It is also my hope that I can add something positive to your life through my experiences.
You'll be getting to know much more about me personally as we continue this "Video Diary" experience. I must stress, that this project, the experiences and videos are all real. There is nothing scripted. I am NOT now NOR HAVE I EVER BEEN AN Actress! I've never had a desire to act. I have worked in television, yes, but my work in television has been that of what is considered to be an "expert" commentator in my respective fields of work.
I was born near the tri-state border of West Virginia, Kentucky and Ohio referred to as the gateway to Appalachia. "General Hospital" ironically the same name as a popular daytime Soap Opera was the stage for my delivery to the world in Portsmouth, Ohio. Located on old Scioto Trail surrounded by Shawnee Indian burial grounds, this humble beginning is my foundation for the life I have made for myself. My mother is the product of a European Aristocratic background and first generation American when her family relocated to Portsmouth, Ohio during wartime. My father was born to Irish immigrants who came to this country in search of the American Dream of prosperity. They met in high school, fell madly in love, married and were supposed to live happily ever after. Portsmouth, Ohio was hard hit with poverty. Jobs were scarce. The stress of two young newly married 19 year olds with a baby drove my father to seek out any employment he could find. Sadly, it was out of the country in the military. The distance and stress tore my parents and their young family apart. My parents divorced when I was three years old. I never had the opportunity to know my father during my childhood. His absence left a whole in my heart that impacts me to this day.
My mother was so heart-broken about the dissolution of our young family, that we just "never spoke about it". In essence, my father became dead to me. Some might argue that how can you miss something if you never had it to begin with? She remarried a man who in the beginning seemed to be the answer to her prayers. It was only after we were isolated that she realized that he was an abusive alcoholic that would turn our lives from bad to worse in a nightmare that lasted until I was 16 years old.
I have learned over the years, that sometimes God delivers lessons to us in the form of conflicts so that we can grow and learn from these experiences. I grew up as a child laborer on a tobacco farm for fifty cents an hour starting at age 8. From these humble beginnings, I learned the value of a dollar and how hard work can drive you to success. I went on to become a young entrepreneur with various small businesses ranging from the typical babysitting to knitting sweaters on consignment to a scottish terrier breeder for pet stores throughout the state of Ohio.
Childhood was challenging. We moved 17 times forcing me to change schools repeatedly. Although it was difficult to always be "the new girl in school", it enabled me to learn the people skills in social environments to make new friends quickly and adapt to almost any social environment.
Because money was always an issue in our family, I contributed in any way I could from the various jobs and small businesses I had through my teenage years. Then at age 16, I created something that would change my life and lifestyle forever. Through my friends at school, neighbors and church groups, I developed a project of saving grocery packaging and using coupons that provided an annual income of about $20,000 a year of refund offers from various consumer products and a savings on our grocery bills of up to 80%.
In 1978, at the age of 18, I made my debut with the Bob Braun show on WLWT-TV in Cincinnati, Ohio and was dubbed America's Coupon Queen. Braun was so impressed that he offered me a position as a regular on the show. Within days another offer was made where I appeared nationally on the popular television series PM MAGAZINE. As an entrepreneur and the nation's youngest syndicated television journalist, my couponing and refunding system made me a branding expert with America's biggest corporate brands.
My career was cut short by a near fatal car crash that ended my career. Transforming myself, I served an apprenticeship with an Optometrist in,Ohio and survived with a backup plan as a Licensed Optician. I moved to California and married Extra TV and Fox News reporter Phil Shuman. After a chance meeting with Michael Jackson, I became the darling of the film and television industry by making house calls with designer eyewear to the most famous faces in the world.
Beginning in 1984, known as the Optician to the Stars, I was one of the pioneers in marketing the fashion industry to the entertainment industry. As an Optician having direct eye to eye contact, I realized the power of celebrity and how that power can make a designer or product a household name overnight. I was quickly single handedly credited with some of the biggest trendsetters in the history of sunglasses and eyewear. Terminator 2, When Harry Met Sally, Thelma and Louise, Bat Man, Mission Impossible and Erin Brockovich are just a few of the more than 3,000 feature film and television projects that I have been credited with during my 20 year history.
I have appeared on hundreds of television programs, newspapers and magazines, including, but not limited to: Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, Extra, Mike and Maty (ABC), Today Show (NBC), HBO Entertainment News, and more. Through my personal relationships and connections with Hollywood Royalty and the media, I can now share all of the latest trends in celebrity inspired fashion trends, hotspots for travel, spas, dining, sports, comedy and everything else you can imagine all through the technology of streaming video on the internet and television syndication outlets.
My optical business expanded during the 1990's by adding product placement, public relations, marketing and media services to other brands and products in fashion, lifestyle, electronics and service oriented businesses and products. I found myself being contacted by hundreds of others wanting to learn my secrets of aligning their products and brands with the trendsetters, influencers and early adopters of the elite social circle I have created over the years.
My company still maintains the core business of optics, eyewear and sunglasses to this day, servicing not only society elite, but consumers around the world through virtual opticians on the internet on StarryEyes.org. The public relations division of my company places products and brands with celebrities and through my television background we create, write and product feature stories for the media, including print and video features that are distributed through traditional media outlets and the internet to create buzz that translates to sales for the companies involved.
With my experience as a small business owner and entrepreneur, I can now serve others with their entrepreneurial dreams of starting and building their own companies.
In November of 2006, I received a call from my mother telling me that after a 43 year absence, that she and my birth father had reunited. Not only had they gotten back in touch with each other, but they fell in love all over again and married just a few months later. Excited by the possibility of having my first ever family Christmas with my parents, I rushed to their side throwing my baggage in the back of my Porsche and drove cross country back to my hometown. Upon my arrival, my mother noticed my skintone and lack of energy and forced me to see a doctor. With the knowledge that my uncle had just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and died just weeks after his diagnosis, the fear was that I too might have cancer.
The fear was quickly realized that in fact, the moment I was examined by the doctors I too, was diagnosed with Cancer. I was rushed to the hospital and immediately sent to the operating room. I was told that I would most likely not live to see my next birthday and that I should "get my affairs in order and say my goodbyes". I did that. I prepared for the end just like I did everything else, with dignity and a straight forward business approach. After planning my own cremation and memorial, my birthday came and went. I had started working with alternative health practioners that I believe has saved my life thus far.
One of these alternative medicines is the use of Medicinal Cannabis. Although I know this is a controversial issue, I have chosen to "come out of the closet" about a subject that I knew very little about until my diagnosis. I truly believe that Medicinal Cannabis has not only saved my life, but has provided me with a better quality of life today than I have ever had. I also believe that it has stopped the growth of the tumors that continue to live inside my body.
I went through the legal requirements to used Medicinal Cannabis in the state of California and have become so passionate about the issue that I formed my own Medical Cannabis collective in Beverly Hills to help others obtain the medicine they need safely, legally and with compassion and understanding.
Recently, Marie Claire Magazine wrote an article about “Stiletto Stoners” where they mention an “anonymous optician that had a secret about marijuana”. Fortune Magazine featured a cover article on “How Pot Became Legal” . You will be hearing more about my involvement in the Canna-business world and my activity in politics.
On September 25, 2009, I was honored and privileged to be asked to form and direct the Beverly Hills Chapter for NORML. I have accepted that challenge. My plan is to use my experience in working with media and celebrities into a more active role for the movement. This will include Celebrity Driven public service announcement campaigns and events in the Beverly Hills area. I would love to have you join us to take a more active role in legalizing marijuana and gaining more mainstream public support. We're a brand new chapter, so we need your help in launching. Please help us to spread the word to your friends.
Today, I have been able to rebuild my life, my work, my health and my family life. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the gifts I have been given and dedicate my life to sharing the wisdom and life lessons I have learned with others. If I can be of service to anyone, I consider it an honor and a privilege. I look forward to expanding my horizons and I thank you for learning more about me.
Thank you so much for your love and support.