JoMarie Young is ready for pink to just be a color again.

JoMarie Young is ready for pink to just be a color again.

The 41-year-old Independence mother of three says she appreciates the survivors, but she isn’t one yet. JoMarie also says she respects foundations like Susan G. Komen for the Cure, but she’s ready to turn on the TV or drive around town again without the reminders.

JoMarie knows she has stage 3B invasive ductual carcinoma. Breast cancer. She is fully aware that next Tuesday, she’ll undergo a double mastectomy and that she’ll have to wait until early 2014 to undergo reconstructive surgery.

She knows her life has changed significantly since the diagnosis just four months ago.


At 35, JoMarie – a licensed practical nurse in Lee’s Summit – had a baseline mammogram. Everything was normal. She had no family history of breast cancer.

Overall, JoMarie says, her health was great. But one day, just out of the shower, she found lump.

She decided to see if it went away, if it was simply a part of her monthly menstrual cycle. The Young family had plans, including a trip for a wedding in Mexico and a family cruise planned two years earlier.

The lump didn’t go away.

Then came the pain.

She called her doctor’s office at St. Joseph Medical Center on June 25. In that single afternoon, she had a mammogram, an ultrasound and two biopsies.

Three days later, JoMarie got the call.

She tries to remember back to her response of the news. JoMarie looks down. She bites her lip and then looks to her husband, Kevin, in their living room.

“Shock,” she murmurs.

The time between the 25th and the call “was hell,” JoMarie says. “I knew, in my gut – you just know. I knew something was wrong. The reality had set in once you get the official diagnosis.”

She was supposed to have another mammogram at 40, but JoMarie didn’t. That was in January of 2011.

“Life happens,” JoMarie says. “I knew I was supposed to do it, and then I completely forgot about it.”

Would the cancer have been caught then? Probably not, JoMarie says, because what she has is very aggressive.

Two weeks after the diagnosis, she began chemotherapy. JoMarie’s life changed – and quickly.

“It seems fast, but at the same time, going through it, it’s been literally hell on Earth,” JoMarie says.

While it was effective in treating the tumor, the first round of chemo made JoMarie very sick. So, her doctor changed the treatment.

That treatment didn’t work in fighting the tumor. JoMarie tried a third kind of chemo.

The third time wasn’t the charm, in this case – JoMarie had an anaphylactic (a severe allergic) reaction.

And, that’s why she’ll have both of her breasts surgically removed in five days. Following the surgery, JoMarie will finish chemo and radiation, with reconstructive surgery taking place sometime around January 2014.

“I’m very, very scared,” JoMarie says, her eyes filling with tears. “Cancer’s already changed who I am. It’s like, your life or your breasts – well, that’s an easy answer. How ironic, in the middle of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I’m losing mine. Mine weren’t saved.”

JoMarie says she worries about her relationship with husband following the surgery. She doesn’t want him to see her like that.

“I know she feels that way. I don’t,” Kevin says in response. “I adore her. ... I know how it affects her. I’d rather have her life than her breasts. That is what’s most important to me.”


JoMarie Young doesn’t have a team of supporters. She has an entire army.

Her 12-year-old daughter Ally plays for Independence’s Jabali Elite soccer team, which dedicated this season in support of JoMarie. The team wears T-shirts that read “Jo Jo’s Army.”

On Sept. 29, JoMarie received a surprise.

The Raytown Soccer Club Tigers coach had looked on Jabali’s website and had seen JoMarie’s picture. The coach, who had recently lost his father to cancer, challenged his team to collect donations for JoMarie.

She received $370 at the game.

“These are people I have never met before. The support in the community has been overwhelming and very humbling,” JoMarie says.

The Raytown girls had pink ribbons on their socks, as well. JoMarie described it as “cute,” but she’s also over pink.

“I’m appreciative of what it represents, but I’m going through it right now,” she says. “Every time I turn around, it’s a constant reminder that I have cancer. I can never forget about it for five minutes.

“I think it’s wonderful, don’t get me wrong. I hope by doing this, we can find a cure, but my ultimate wish is that pink is just a color again.”