Four-Time Breast Cancer Survivor Nanci Young is Giving Back to Those Affected by Breast Cancer

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, four-time breast cancer survivor and Bowie resident Nanci Young shares her story and how she chooses to give back to those and their families affected by this disease.

“I had a mammogram in 1990 when I was 36. I have a very strong family history of breast cancer. We decided it would be a good idea to try to just get a baseline to watch my breasts,” she says. “Mammograms are crucial, extremely critical, and this is the only type of test to discover this. My first mammogram was misread. My tumor was missed. Unfortunately, a year later I felt the lump on self-examination, and it was very large and had come from the inside of the chest wall to the outer part. I went in for a variety of tests, and they determined that I had a tumor and it was intraductal carcinoma. It was very common, and we didn’t know until after the mastectomy that the tumor was already stage 3.”

Over the next two decades, Nanci was diagnosed with cancer three more times. In 2002, her doctors told her that she had metastatic stage 4 breast cancer. She has had two mastectomies and has undergone chemotherapy, radiation and hormone therapy treatments. Nanci’s strong faith has carried her through the trying times.

“I know what has worked for me. My faith has been with me for every step of the way. I wrote my book [My Path to Faith: An Autobiography of Faith, Hope, and Courage] about my faith. I would not be here if it was not for my faith, my God. I don’t say that trying to force religion on people, but that is what worked for me.”

Nanci felt called to give back to the community.

“My book went out in 2015. Then, God gave me the inspiration to start the foundation called Nanci’s Gift. We started two programs; first, to help other women who need to get tests and cannot afford it. Not only can people not afford it, but so many women are so afraid to get it done. There is no education,” Nanci says. “We partner with an organization called Breast Care for Washington, D.C. in Anacostia. Anacostia is a very low-income, underserved neighborhood, and I thought, ‘What a wonderful group.’ The neat thing about them is that they will do a mammogram, a breast ultrasound regardless of the patients’ ability to pay. That is what Nanci’s Gift wanted to do all along. We take them to a check every year, and our check pays for a certain amount of mammograms a year.”

The next program Nanci’s Gift offers is a scholarship award program for students affected by breast cancer.

“Our scholarship award program was thought of by my son. My children were 7 and 9 when I was first diagnosed. My family was able to survive this disease, but many other people can be financially ruined by this disease. There are women right here in Prince George’s County that have to make the decision between paying for rent and paying for treatments.”

Nanci’s Gift developed a scholarship for students in high school who want to attend college and have had a parent who has had breast cancer. These are renewable scholarships for students for each year they stay in school for up to four years.

“We are thrilled that these students want to continue their education. We give $1,000 scholarships to about four students a year,” Nanci says. “Coming into our fifth year, we are really looking to increase our corporate sponsorship and get larger donations each year for our scholarship fund. Students are so grateful. I feel like Santa Claus when I call these kids to give them the award.

“I say to women [affected by breast cancer], ‘You can do this. I am a four-time breast cancer survivor, and you are looking at someone who has been doing this since 2002,’” Nanci says. “I still take medications every day and have to remain on this for the rest of my life. But I choose life. I choose life every day and even though some days are worse than others, I choose life.” 

Students who want to apply for Nanci’s Gift scholarship program complete a simple application, write an essay describing how breast cancer has affected them, and include a letter of recommendation from a caring adult. For more information on mammogram assistance or the scholarship program, visit NancisGift.org.