published Thursday, December 5th, 2013

City Beat: Melanie Young honored for her book on breast cancer

Melanie Young, a Girls Preparatory School graduate and the daughter of Sonia “The Purple Lady” Young and the late Mel Young, was named one of three honorees in the 2013 HandCraft Heroes Breast Cancer Campaign.

Young, a public relations specialist in New York, was honored for her book, “Getting Things Off My Chest: A Survivor’s Guide To Staying Fearless and Fabulous in the Face of Breast Cancer.” Young, who served as a caregiver in 2007 for a close friend who was diagnosed and later died from breast cancer, was diagnosed herself in 2009. She said she had always wanted to write a book but was always “too busy.” Her experiences caused her to view things differently.

“When I was diagnosed, I thought, ‘OK, stop saying I’m too busy and do this,’ but I also wanted to convey something positive that could help people.”

The award is presented in honor of Cheryl Indelicato, a third-generation California vintner and proprietor of HandCraft Artisan Collection Wines. She is a 20-year breast cancer survivor. The other two honorees were Stacy Cumberbatch of San Francisco and Diane Lyons of New Orleans. Cumberbatch initiated The Pink Gown Fashion Show in the Bay Area. Lyons is the founder of two New Orleans fundraisers, Festi-gals and Bodacious Bras for a Cause.

Young’s history is in marketing, particularly in the food and wine industry. In fact, she helped launch the prestigious James Beard Foundation Awards in 1985 and oversaw them for 16 years. The awards honor excellence in cuisine.

“It was an incredibly exciting time, and over the years it grew, and the awards and the prestige grew. They are a very big deal now, and I miss it, but it opened the doors to other things.”

Young said the foundation decided to go in a different direction in 2006, and she was honored for her work during a presentation in New York City honoring New Orleans post Katrina. She said the event was bittersweet for her because it signaled the end of her association with the Beard Foundation, but it also led to a happy moment.

“They brought me onstage and this very handsome man named David Ransom came out in a white suit with roses and proposed.”

The funny part of the story, especially for anyone who knows them, is that her mother had left the ceremony to attend the awards reception downstairs.

“She was the last to know,” Young said. “She was scooped.”

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfree or 423-757-6354.

about Barry Courter...

Barry Courter is staff reporter and columnist for the Times Free Press. He started his journalism career at the Chattanooga News-Free Press in 1987. He covers primarily entertainment and events for ChattanoogaNow, as well as feature stories for the Life section. Born in Lafayette, Ind., Barry has lived in Chattanooga since 1968. He graduated from Notre Dame High School and the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga with a degree in broadcast journalism. He previously was ...

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