Melanie Young knows how to face challenges with grit, grace and wit and reframe them to make things happen for the better. She a motivational muse for anyone who feels stuck and who wants to reignite their personal or professional brand and she is a living example of turning stumbling blocks into stepping stones. After surviving breast cancer, Melanie wrote her first book, Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer (Cedar Fort Inc./Oct. 2013), to help newly diagnosed women stay focused and make smarter choices about caring for their well-being during and after treatment. This book received both the 2014 International Book Award and the USA Best Book Award for cancer health topics. Melanie’s second book, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms (Cedar Fort Inc./Nov. 2014) is filled with inspirational insights to recharge your spirit and revalue your self-worth. Her blog, Melanie Young- Getting Things Off My Chest, is frank, witty and inspiring. Her articles have appeared in Everyday Health, Huffington Post, MindBodyGreen, Greatist and The Plum.
Melanie hosts a weekly national radio show, “Fearless Fabulous You!” where she interviews inspirational women and experts in the area of wellness, health and nutrition. The show airs live Wednesdays on W4WN: the Women-4-Women Network, the #1 internet radio network for women and is available globally on demand at I Heart Radio under Shows and Personalities. Link: http://www.iheart.com/show/209-Fearless-Fabulous-You
Speaking Appearances: Melanie has spoken on panels, with professional women’s organizations and breast cancer advocacy groups. Talks are tailored for each group. Examples:
- How to Stay Fearless & Fabulous at Any Age, Embrace Your Authenticity and Project Your Brilliance
- Being CEO “Chief Empowerment Officer” of Your Health- Why It Matters and What It Takes.
- Five/Ten Lessons I Learned from Having Cancer To Stay Fearless, Fabulous & Fit Forever
- From Fizzle to Sizzle: How to Re-Ignite Your Personal Brand and Reinvent Your Career
- Spin It To Win It: Turn Stumbling Blocks Into Stepping Stones, Reframe and Reclaim the Life You Want
Wellness Activism: Melanie supports many organizations and charitable efforts for women’s health, education and careers. She recipient of the Handcraft Heroes Breast Cancer Awareness Award and the Caring Advocate for Recovery Through the Arts Award. She studied at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to train as a certified health coach.
Professional Background: Melanie turned her passion for wine and food, connecting people and communities into a successful marketing and events business, The Connected Table®. With husband, David Ransom, she co-hosts “The Connected Table,” a weekly radio show airing on W4CY and IHeart Radio. During her culinary career she developed and managed The James Beard Foundation Awards and New York Restaurant Week, and produced multi-chef tasting events to raise money and awareness for charitable causes throughout the U.S.
Sample Video (also visit www.melanieyoung.com)
“Women & Wellness Seminar” September 13, 2013 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gE8Qn5jTqv4 Additional video and broadcast appearances: http://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3W3kuUfk40hJQyl-5yIvHw/videos
Breast Cancer Survivor Helps Newly Diagnosed Take Charge of Their Treatment with Spirited Guidebook
Sept. 10, 2013- Passionate traveler and wine and food professional Melanie Young took an unexpected detour in 2009 to a place she refers to as “Cancer Land.” She has written a witty guidebook filled with tips and insights to help newly diagnosed women navigate their journey called: “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide To Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.” Cedar Fort Inc./September 10, 2013/ $16.99. ISBN 13-9781462113231
“Breast cancer is the trip no one wants to take, but it is a road well traveled with one and eight women diagnosed. Like so many women, when I was diagnosed I felt lost. I did not know what to ask or expect and I did not understand the medical language. I just knew on this trip I wanted to get out alive, keep my quality of life intact and not make a return visit! Doctors will tell you how they will treat your cancer, but it takes survivors to tell you how cancer treatment will affect your lifestyle: how to prepare and what to expect during treatment, how to deal with side effects and body image issues and how to balance work-family-community while keeping your head together and looking and feeling your best.
Melanie stresses the importance of understanding your rights and options as a breast cancer patient and taking responsibility for eating, hydrating and exercising to build strength and fight fatigue. Melanie interviewed dozens of breast cancer survivors and experts from the medical, cancer and related communities to provide concise, useful information covering a broad range of issues. Some highlights:
- Five Commandments for the newly diagnosed: understanding your health insurance, managing finances, getting organized, assembling a health care team and managing communications
- Selecting a surgeon, medical oncologist and managing treatment
- The “Squeeze Test” – breast reconstruction options
- The Holy Trinity”- Hydrate, Gyrate and Masticate- nutrition management and exercise
- Putting Your Best Face Forward – skin and oral care, hair loss/re-growth, makeup tips
- Emotional Rescue – dealing with chemo-brain, stress, body image, sexuality
- Peer support and services to help you
- Genetic testing: your options
About the Author:
Diagnosed with cancer in both breasts in August 2009, Melanie underwent a double mastectomy with reconstruction, five months of chemotherapy, genetic testing and a prophylactic surgery to remove her ovaries and Fallopian tubes. Throughout, she continued to run her wine and food marketing business without revealing her diagnosis to her clients or colleagues. She used her experience to retool her diet, reboot her exercise regimen, rid her life from toxic stress and repurpose through writing and helping other women facing the journey. She still enjoys working in wine and food and focuses on mindful moderation and careful consumption. Today she is speaker./writer/advocate for the empowerment women, women’s health and breast cancer awareness. Blog: www.melanieyoung.com Follow: @mightymelanie
Suggested Questions and Insights:
How is your book different from other breast cancer guides and biographies?
When I was facing my own cancer journey, I found plenty of medical books on cancer and a lot of survivors’ personal stories. There were helpful single subject books on cooking and cancer nutrition, psychology and beauty. But I did not find a book that addressed the management of both your cancer and your well being. I wanted something like a travel guide covering a wide range of topics with great perspective, telling me what to expect, how to prepare myself, what I needed to know about taking care of myself and how to look good despite side effects. My book takes a “360 approach” to facing cancer head on. Medical doctors will tell you the scientific side of cancer, its treatment, and how to fight it; but only a survivor can provide the insight from the personal side on how to incorporate cancer into your daily life and stay in control. I also provide plenty of insights on what to expect and how to manage issues regarding skin, nails, hair and oral care. Maintaining your looks is very important to boosting self image during treatment. I provide tips that address how to look better as well as feel better.
What will the cancer fighter/survivor learn?
This is both a cancer and healthy lifestyle management book. If you take the cancer section out, I address practical matters like health insurance, assembling a health care team, skin and dental care, smart nutrition, fitness and sexuality. These are every day issues that need to be understood and managed for the rest of your life after you beat cancer.
As a wine and food industry professional, how challenging was it to face changes in your diet and palate during treatment?
It was challenging but I was accepting. During treatment I needed to adhere to a strict, simple, low fat-high protein diet, and abstain from all alcohol. Chemotherapy affected my sense of smell which became much stronger and more sensitive, and food tasted differently. I really did not want to eat too much for fear I would have a reaction or become nauseated; yet, I felt eating smaller, more frequent meals was very important for my energy. The good news is that, because of healthier diet and steady exercise, my skin looked better and I was in the best physical shape I could be in to fight the effects of treatment.
How did you change you diet?
I decided to retool my diet permanently as a result. Before my cancer diagnosis I lived to eat well as a frequent restaurant goer and professional eater. Having cancer taught me to “eat well to live well.” My focus is careful consumption and mindful moderation: simpler, plant based meals, lean protein and smaller portions without sacrificing quality.
In the book you speak frequently of “The Holy Trinity” Can you explain this?
I credit three things for keeping me in cancer fighting shape:
1) Hydrate, as in drinking lots of water, fresh juices or non caffeinated herbal teas.
2) Gyrate, as in daily exercise, even if it is a brisk 30 minute walk outside. Movement kept my metabolism strong, maintained my energy level and helped with my neuropathy, muscle and bone pain after surgery, and during treatment.
3) Masticate: Eat with purpose. Many cancer patients are under nourished because they do not feel like eating, or are eating the wrong foods. It’s terrible! Food is the fuel you need to keep your system strong.
What were your biggest challenges during treatment?
Like many cancer patients, the emotional impact of the diagnosis was simply devastating – like a sharp punch in the chest. On top of that my father was put in hospice for advanced prostate cancer shortly after my diagnosis. He died after my second surgery and before I started treatment. I was extremely close to him, and he was also my company’s C.P.A., so we were tied together in business as well. Losing him and not being able to take the time to mourn or deal with the fallout from his death was very hard.
I also chose to keep my diagnosis quiet in my professional arena. I was afraid my clients would walk away, and I would lose my business and face financial ruin. It was like living two lives: business professional by day; cancer patient at rest by night.
Finally, no one really explained “chemo brain” to me and how it plays with your head. By the end of the day it was hard to remember words or focus on anything. My head felt like it was sliced in two and put back on off-kilter. I address this fully in my book. Studies have shown that many women are impacted by “chemo brain” for years afterwards.
How did you handle chemo brain?
I played word games, like Scrabble. I prioritized activities to tackle more demanding ones in the morning after my work out when my mind was sharper. And when the chemo brain kicked in hard, I turned off the electronics and tuned into music. Or I would take a walk or hit the reclining stationary bike. I also cleaned out closets and drawers; organizing and tossing out clutter was soothing.
How did you adapt to life after treatment?
Life after treatment was in three stages for me: First, the initial euphoria of finishing treatment combined with a careful re-entry. I took the summer to undergo physical therapy for my very weak arms. I continued to monitor my diet and exercise. And I wrote a lot to vent my emotions. About a year after treatment I had a sudden and sharp bout of post traumatic stress that took me by surprise. It was my “what the heck just happened to me?” period. I no longer enjoyed my work and wanted to make dramatic changes in my life and career. But, I also needed to pay down a lot of debt, so I had to just deal with it by dialing down my work schedule a bit so I could reflect on where I wanted to go next in my life. Today, I feel like I have achieved more balance and have simplified my life more. I also “came out of the cancer closet” publicly the end of 2011 and continued writing my book. It was a defining moment being able to say publicly and confidently: “I had cancer. I finished treatment. I am healthy.”
You underwent genetic testing for the BRCA gene mutation. What is your advice to other women?
I am very glad I underwent testing after my breast cancer diagnosis. It answered a lot of questions for me. I tested positive for the BRCA2 gene mutation and chose to have a prophylactic oophorectomy to remove my ovaries and Fallopian tubes.
My advice to women is to do whatever it takes to make sure you have no further long term health risks. Discuss your options with your medical professional and your family. Then, follow your gut. Any cancer survivor will tell you that they never want to undergo the experience again. If genetic testing can give you clarity on what steps you need to take, then do it.
From Striver to Thriver: Cancer Survivor Teaches Five Rs for Emotionally Healing in New Book Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms
Cancer survivor Melanie Young says during the years after her treatment ended, still grieving the loss of her doting father and feeling burnt out from overwork as a PR agency owner, she realized her emotional healing was going to take much longer than the physical. “I wondered if the best years of my life were behind me or the worst years, “she says. “I felt stuck and not sure what direction to take to move forward. I had to learn to reframe, reconnect with myself and reset my intentions.”
In her new book, Fearless Fabulous You! Lessons on Living Life on Your Terms! (Cedar Fort/Nov. 2014/$12.99/ISBN 9781462114440) Young outlines Five Restorative Paths, in 25 essays and 125 fearless lessons for learning to reset your life back on track and rediscover joy and purpose.
While the book is based on her own journey from “striver to thriver” Young says it will help anyone facing a challenge, setback or emotional road block. ”I want to help you avoid emotional burnout and take your life from fizzle to sizzle to reignite your vision of living life on your terms,” said Young.
Young’s 5Rs include:
Recharge. Center yourself by making your well-being a priority. Make smarter choices to improve your physical and emotional health, including diet, exercise, stress management and revaluing in your self worth.
Release. Let go of anything that bring your down emotionally. This may include negative thoughts, toxic people, or a stressful job or any other situation that could be detrimental to your mental or physical well being.
Reconnect. Take stock of your skills and talents and think about how to retool them in ways that give you joy and renewed purpose.
Reframe. Take a negative situation. Turn it around in your mind and look at it in a new way. What can you learn from it to make a better life?.
Reclaim. Learn to define and live your life by your own standards of happiness, success and who you want to be and not by anyone else’s criteria.
Now a health coach, Young hosts the weekly radio show “Fearless Fabulous You!” on W4WN- the Women 4 Women Network featuring inspiring women and health and wellness experts. Her first book, Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless & Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer (Cedar Fort, 2013) is recipient of the 2014 International Book Award and USA Best Book Award for cancer health topics. Follow her at www.melanieyoung.com and http://twitter.com/mightymelanie.
Sample questions: Fearless Fabulous YOU!
- In your new book, Fearless Fabulous You!, you talk about “being stuck” after completing your own breast cancer treatment? Is this common and how did you deal with it?
- You outline five key paths to take to transform your life. What are they? (Recharge, Release, Reconnect, Reframe. Reclaim)
- What are same ways to turn stumbling blocks into building blocks?
- In your book you discuss how to “redefine happiness.” Can you elaborate?
- Even though your new book is a result of your own “healing journey” after cancer, you say the life lessons learned apply to everyone. In what way?
- What do you tell someone who can’t seem to lift themselves out of their “emotional box”?
- You made some significant changes in your life in the five years after your 2009 cancer diagnosis, what were they and why did you make the decision?
- How have those changes impacted how you live today and what lesson from it do you want to share with our listeners?
- What is your final tip?
MY: Define and live by your own standards of happiness, success, excellence and well-being and not by what others want or expect from you. Find and pursue what brings you true joy and emotional/financial freedom and then share it with others to bring double and triple pleasure. This is the ultimate definition of “living life on your terms.”