Friends & family: Still celebrating


Editor’s note: This sidebar article accompanies a feature story on Dianne Young, the former Bolton High School yearbook sponsor and Millington resident who was diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer two years ago. She is now in remission.

Friends and family gathered Sunday afternoon in Memphis to celebrate Dianne Young’s cancer-free status and talk about how she has inspired them.

Valerie Barratt of Bartlett said her friend’s journey has given her perspective.

“You really don’t have a bad day,” she said. “Because when you ahve your health, you’re incredibly blessed.”

Another friend, Wendy Kerley of Arlington, found that one experience strengthed her own Christian faith.

She recounted one incident when Young’s husband, Robert, and their sons had gone on a camping trip. Robert asked a few friends to check in on Dianne.

Another friend, Renee Newberry of Bartlett, realized Dianne was very sick during one of those visits. It was at that moment that Kerley felt a need to call.

“I believe in divine intervention,” Kerley said. “I called Dianne, and Renee answered the phone and told me Dianne wasn’t doing so well. I raced over, and we rushed her to the hospital. This experience increased my faith tremendously.”

Jake Young, Dianne’s older son, described his mother’s illness simply. “Mom was sick. The only thing that changed was her not working anymore.”

Dianne herself explained how her husband has been her rock.

“He’s more domesticated than me. Things stayed normal.”

As for Robert, he said his wife is phenomenal, and they relished family time each day. “We lived day by day.”

Bernice Young, Dianne’s mother-in-law, reminisced about how Robert and Dianne’s marriage began.

“Most don’t know that they eloped when they got married,” she said. “They went to Hawaii. I knew once they got back, that that’s what they did. They’ve always had a wonderful marriage. This just made it more wonderful. Most mothers think they’re the woman that influences their son. Nope, not me. Dianne has made my son a wonderful man.”

Cathy Young of Collierville, Robert’s sister, chimed in and agreed. She said Dianne is the reason behind the man her brother has become.

Robert’s uncle Charles Young also claims Dianne as one of his own and praised her. “Dianne is a wonderful person. Her spirit never changed.”

Carrie Paulo of Memphis, has been friends with Dianne for 10 years and hosted the party on Sunday. Their boys brought them together.

“Dianne amazes me — always a fighter,” she said. “Never changed through the whole experience. She’s helped me change my way of doing life. I’ve eliminated stress and have placed a lot of things in perspective. Hosting this celebration was the least I could do.”

Written by Amanda Swain, special to the Express. Contact her at