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 Jalyn, 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:
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!