hereforthegirls | 2015 September
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, September 21, 2015 | More Post by

         

Dionne Young is passionate in her efforts to educate others about breast cancer. Being selected as a calendar model for A Calendar to Live By 2016 is a dream come true for her, as that means she will be in an even better position to spread awareness about the disease and what it means to survive and thrive after a breast cancer diagnosis.

Dionne lives in Chesapeake with her husband of 22 years, Nikita. The couple has two daughters, Brittani, 21, and dionne youngJalyn, 17. The family includes a bull mastiff named Niqo (pronounced Nee-koh) and a terrier mix named Sandie. The Young family also boasts a finned member, a catfish named Rafael they have had for eight years.

Read on to learn more about how Dionne was diagnosed, how her diagnosis changed her relationship with her youngest daughter, and how being selected as a calendar model is helping her get the word out to other women about the importance of early detection and breast health.

What led to your diagnosis?

It just so happened that my hubby noticed a lump during a hug goodbye one day and said I should get it checked out. My response was that it had always been there and had been tested and checked over the last 10 years of my life several times. Because my grandmother had breast cancer, my doctor suggested I be checked every five years. So I did and cancer was never found. There was absolutely no evidence of cancer shown on any of the diagnostic tests that had been given to me.

Once my hubby said I should go back to the doc anyway, I waited three months before going. The doctor said it was probably nothing, but sent me to a surgeon anyway. The surgeon was insistent and said he didn’t like it and sent me to have a 3D mammogram and they found nothing. He requested I allow a biopsy and I did, against my better judgment. I am thankful he was persistent because the biopsy showed stage 2B breast cancer. When I saw the oncologist, he told me that if I wasn’t treated aggressively and immediately, I wouldn’t survive the year.

How did you find out about Beyond Boobs!?

I found Beyond Boobs! after I was asked to speak at a breast cancer awareness event. There I met a BB! calendar girl who suggested I come to a meeting. The rest is history.

What is your favorite date-night activity?

I am actually very much a homebody unless there is a purpose for the outing, and my hubby is the same way. Our favorite date-night activities are curling up together in bed and watching movies, snacking, and cuddling. Being married for 22 years allows us to be free and comfortable enough with just the company of each other.   

Who is your biggest supporter?

My biggest supporter is probably my youngest daughter, Jalyn. She goes everywhere with me and has been such a trooper through the entire process. She was only 13 when I was diagnosed and had to bathe me and take care of me when her dad had to return to work. She never leaves my side now. My cancer diagnosis has been the best thing that has ever happened to our relationship.

Who was your teenage celebrity heartthrob?

My heartthrobs exist in adulthood. I have every CD or tape Prince has ever made, even if it wasn’t played on the radio. I am his biggest fan and we favor in looks and size. LOL

One word to describe yourself:

Compassionate. 

What does being selected as a calendar model mean to you?

It was a huge honor to be selected for such a responsibility. I was doing tons of advocacy, awareness, and education prior to becoming a Boober!, and I feel fortunate to have a group that specifically supports individuals and families affected by breast cancer.

What was the most impactful moment of your calendar model photo shoot?

The most impactful moment was sharing the breast cancer experience with many other women who have also been affected, but in such a very different way. I describe breast cancer as the “family name” for a group of individuals. Although we all share that same family name, we are very different people, and so is breast cancer. There are so many different types, stages, attack zones, and lifestyles of people that it’s no wonder there is such difficulty in finding a cure. I will dedicate the rest of my life to raising awareness for and educating others about this terrible disease. Thank you, BB!, for letting me be part of an organization that supports the efforts of me and my Boober! sisters, who are all living life with an exclamation point!

, September 11, 2015 | More Post by

         

Due to a family history of breast cancer, Lisa Williams started getting regular mammograms at age 35. In 2013 she missed her appointment that had been scheduled for the day after Christmas. When she received a postcard in the mail in January, she decided to do a self-exam and found a lump. She was diagnosed with Stage 2B Invasive Ductal Carcinoma in March.

Lisa lives in Rockledge, Florida, and is the mother of three: sons Kenly, 16, and Logan, 7, and daughter, Brianna,Lisa 23. This September she will join 10 of her Boober! sisters when they make their entrance at the Pink Carpet Gala to unveil A Calendar to Live By 2016. In anticipation of the big reveal this fall, Lisa spoke about the chance encounter that led to her involvement with BB!, her childhood ambitions for the White House, and what being a calendar model means for her.

How did you find out about Beyond Boobs!?

I had a different friend with me for each of my chemo appointments and one day in walked Jennifer, someone my friend knew from high school. Jennifer and I went to high school together but we had never “hung out.” I ran into her a few weeks later during another appointment and she mentioned the organization. At that time, I wasn’t ready for a support group. I thought “Who needs to sit around and cry and complain?” That’s what I thought a support group meant. Boy, was I wrong . . . I went to a meeting in January and was blown away by how empowered I felt afterwards. It was truly a gift to run into Jennifer and to become part of this wonderful organization. 

What is your favorite date-night activity?

Stereotypical dinner and a movie. I love movies and want to watch them in the theater, not at home where the “magic” is missing. Nothing like watching a good movie with good company!

What are your summer plans?

To stay cool. I’m not especially fond of this time of year. Give me an autumn day and I’m one happy woman. Sweating is not my thing!

Who was your teenage celebrity heartthrob? How did you show your undying love?

I was a bit of an odd teenager because I didn’t really have a heartthrob. No one graced my walls (Dad wouldn’t have let me hang posters even if I wanted to) and I didn’t doodle names on my notebooks. I did like John Stamos, I remember that, I just wasn’t crazy over anyone.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be the President of the United States. Even back then, I thought a woman was needed in the White House!

What does being selected as a calendar model mean to you?

What a good question. I wanted to do this to show my kids that there is life after cancer. What I have found while I’ve been fundraising and talking to people about my “calendar girl” status is that there are a lot of people who are shocked by the numbers of young women diagnosed each year with this horrible disease. I’ve found I have a passion for telling the Beyond Boobs! story and sharing what it means to be a Boober! I hope I can help women and their families who are going through this disease by being someone they can approach to get information, support, and referrals. I want to put a real face to breast cancer. I’m far from model material and I hope that encourages women of all shapes and sizes to embrace their beauty, inside and out. We only have one life, so why not do what makes you happy and take chances that you otherwise wouldn’t have dared before diagnosis.

What was the most impactful moment of your calendar model photo shoot?

I would say that it was another time I had to give up control. . . again. Cancer has a way of making you realize you really don’t or can’t control many things in life. For us Type A people, that’s a hard pill to swallow, no pun intended. I had to once again relinquish control to the photographer, Mary Beth, and the BB! team. I had to trust they were going to make my picture the best it could be. Letting go is a very freeing and scary thing to do for any reason. I’ve begun to learn more about the freeing part of letting go and it’s a good feeling.

 

, September 07, 2015 | More Post by

Virginia Beach resident Charity Breidenbach does double duty as a lieutenant commander in the U.S. Navy and as mom to daughter Lizzy, 16, and son Clay, 11. In 2016 she will add another title to the list – Beyond Boobs! calendar model.

Charity’s life changed forever on July 26, 2013, when she was diagnosed with ER/PR positive, HER2 negative, stage 2B breast cancer after finding a lump during a self-exam. After her initial consult with a surgeon, the nurse navigator gave her a Beyond Boobs! Calendar to Live By 2013 and literature about the support BB! provides to women diagnosed with breast cancer. Charity attended her first support meeting in September 2013 and now proudly waves the Boober! flag.

In anticipation of the unveiling of A Calendar to Live By 2016 at the Pink Carpet Gala in September, Charity shares some personal details about her life and her involvement with BB!

What advice do you have for other women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer?charity blog

Don’t spend a minute thinking you are alone. You are not. This is scary, terrifying, sometimes even debilitating. But you are not alone. Reach out and talk to any one of us about what you’re feeling. I promise we’ve been there and we remember. But, look at us. We’re strong. We’re happy. We’re thriving. We want to help.

What is your favorite healthy food/dish?

Too many to list. I’ve always loved Mexican food, but I started cooking healthier after my diagnosis and now have quite the palate. Everything from butternut squash risotto to shepherd’s pie.

Who was your teenage celebrity heartthrob? How did you show your undying love?

Duran Duran, specifically John Taylor. I sent them letters asking them to come to my hometown (Abilene, Texas—HA! Fat chance!) and told them that they could stay at my house if the hotels were full. I bought their posters, every album, T-shirts, and once in fifth grade I got so caught up looking at an order form where they had some offerings that the teacher startled me when she said “Duran Duran” and I jumped out of my seat.

When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?

I knew from a very young age (8 or 9) that I wanted to join the military. It was going to be the Air Force, but divine intervention or sheer dumb luck put me in the Navy, where I’ve loved almost every minute of the last 20 years. 

What does being selected as a calendar model mean to you?

It has given me the impetus I needed to be more vocal in support of the organization and the women who’ll be affected after me, after us. I’ve always put myself out in front to be a sounding board, but that doesn’t help future generations. The more vocal we are now about the need for prevention, the fewer women will need us in the future.

What was the most impactful moment of your calendar model photo shoot?

I loved being able to show my strength. Cancer can take many things from us, but it cannot take away our resolve to beat it. I also showed my faith in what keeps me strong. We are stronger because we are bound together.