If you were to have a deeper conversation with her, however, you would learn that she has championed predicaments in her past that contributed to her countenance — her diagnosis with breast cancer nearly five years ago leaving the most profound impact.
“I come from a long family history of breast cancer,” she said. “From this disease I lost my mother, three maternal aunts and one maternal cousin who was my very best friend.”
On Oct. 18, 2007, Mahone learned of her diagnosis and was told her breast cancer was Stage 2A. She was 27 years old.
Although one would think that her past history with the disease would dictate an outlook of defeat, Mahone took a different approach — radical faith and hope.
She was determined to continue to live despite the long, hard journey that was before her.
“It was in that moment that I decided I would survive even though cancer had only been a death sentence for my family,” she said. “I took a step back and thought it was one more thing to survive. I believe that my family was cursed, but the curse stopped with me.”
Mahone had a bilateral mastectomy in November 2007 and started four rounds of chemotherapy in January 2008.
She also learned some disheartening news during her treatment.
“I took the BRAC1 gene test,” she said. “They say if you carry that gene, you have a high chance of getting ovarian cancer.”
Mahone, indeed, did have the gene and as a result, had her ovaries removed.
The BRAC1 gene test, according to Susan G. Komen for the Cure, is a genetic test that uses blood samples to determine if patient’s family history with breast cancer is due to a genetic mutation.
In spite of all the emotional, mental, physical and financial turmoil Mahone was enduring, as she went into remission later in 2008, she wrestled with a relentless sense to give back to others.
“[Being diagnosed with breast cancer] made me see that even though you go through some things, there is a reason why you go through things,” she said. “Instead of taking it as a negative, I’m taking it as an opportunity to help others who are going through it.”
For Mahone, this has been through her activism with Young Survivors Coalition, an organization that gathers young women with breast cancer through support groups.
Currently, Mahone acts as an ambassador, speaking on behalf of the nonprofit at events in the community.
She hopes in the future to start her own nonprofit for young women.
“Younger people are really naïve,” she said. “Having breast cancer really made me want to get out the word that young people do and can have breast cancer.”