Being named “Most Likely to Succeed” by her fellow seniors in the GPS class of 1977 was a daunting challenge, according to Melanie Young. She went right to Atlanta after college and then to New York City, determined to be the successful woman her classmates envisioned her to be. Her public relations company in the food and beverage industry, which she ran for 20 years, was successful, and she credits her GPS teachers with her writing skills that contributed to that success. However, she believes that stress from her career, a sedentary lifestyle, and unhealthy eating were responsible for the diagnosis of breast cancer that she got in 2009.
As a guest at Lunchtime Learning on Tuesday, Ms. Young shared some life advice with students and faculty and reviewed the diagnosis of cancer that forced her to reevaluate her life and led to her soon-to-be-published book, Getting Things off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide to Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.
“This book is about more than breast cancer,” she said. “It has some advice for anyone with any serious health issue.” As a survivor, she determined to retool her diet to small, balanced portions of fresh vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Next, she learned the importance of hydration and its benefits to energy and skin. Finally, she made a commitment to daily exercise, be it walking, sports, or stretches and dance moves she learned at GPS as a member of Terpsichord. “I call it hydrate, gyrate, and masticate,” she said with a laugh.
Reviewing her years in the business world, she advised the students to “sharpen their writing skills, thank the people who help you along the way, ask questions, and open your mind to new adventures, but set boundaries and learn to say ‘no.’” As a woman who has refocused her life, she encourages all women to feel empowered to change professional paths. “You don’t have to stay in one place your whole life.”
Now the owner of a consulting firm, The Connected Table, Ms. Young says she’s “leaned in and leaned down to be fiscally and physically stronger.” She will be signing her book at Memorial Hospital’s MaryEllen Locher Breast Cancer Center Tuesday at 5:30 p.m.