Starlets of Dance: Meet Melanie

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

Melanie Georges has always loved to dance. She danced with her father, who headshot-for-melanie-georgesalso was a dance teacher, and as a teen she performed with a dance group at her Greek Orthodox Church. This year her passion for dance will light up the stage at Starlets of Dance.

Melanie was diagnosed with leukemia in 2004, and then in April of 2014 she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She found out about Beyond Boobs! through her oncologist, and shortly thereafter attended her first Not Your Typical Support System meeting.

She is undergoing her third round of chemo, and she has had to adapt her training schedule for Starlets around her energy levels during treatment. “I’ve gotten it down to a science,” said Melanie. “Since I receive a steroid with my chemo treatment every Monday and that gives me lots of energy, I make time to practice Monday evenings.”

Lauren Kelly, Director of Music in Motion Dance Academy, is Melanie’s instructor. “Melanie and I come together for a little over an hour each week and jump right into moving and grooving,” Lauren said. “It’s the best part of my whole week. Sometimes it’s serious, but most of the time it’s just plain fun. Melanie reminds me of what it’s like to open up your heart and your time to a new friend, and all the amazing things that come out of support for our fellow ladies.”

Melanie is pleased to have been selected as a performer. She is also a little nervous about the big night. “First and foremost, I want to do a good job,” she said. “I want to entertain people and make my family proud.” She and Lauren will perform a number from the musical Chicago, and Melanie wants to send a message to herself and the world. “I feel like cancer has taken away my femininity,” she said. “I am struggling with my attractiveness, which is why I want to be sexy and sassy on that stage.”

Click here to see a video about what participating in Starlets of Dance has meant to Melanie.

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Starlets of Dance: Meet Deirdre

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

Deirdre Matthews danced in a recital when she was in kindergarten, and she deirdre-matthews-head-shotcan still remember the pink dress with white polka dots she wore that day. She lived vicariously through her two daughters when they took dance classes growing up, and now it’s her turn to hit the stage again during Starlets of Dance.

“I have always liked to dance,” Deirdre said. “It’s going to be so fun to up on the large stage at the Sandler Center.”

Deirdre has chosen a disco song to dance to and has been busy putting together the perfect outfit, including a pair of bell bottoms. She has been training with dance instructor Regina Kalbacher and feels like she has her routine down.

Regina has been having a blast working with Deirdre. “Little did I know how much the women from Beyond Boobs! would inspire me,” Regina said. “Their stories really touch my heart. Because of this and many other reasons, I have taken part in Starlets of Dance for the last four years. Working with survivors is a way for me to share my passion and joy for dance with survivors who could use dance in their lives.

“Dance has helped me personally get through some really tough times, and I’m honored to work with Deidre this year,” Regina continued “Her energy and excitement for the Hustle is a joy to watch. I’m so proud to see her improve each week and I look forward to her performance for all to see.”

Deirdre wants her dance to encourage all survivors to follow their dreams. “I hope my performance inspires someone to let loose and have fun,” she said. “Don’t let your diagnosis keep you down.”

Click here to see a video about what participating in Starlets of Dance has meant to Dierdre.

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Starlets of Dance: Meet Lisa

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

From the time she was a little girl, Lisa Marshall always wanted to take dance lisa-marshall-head-shotlessons, but her father couldn’t afford the extra expense. So when Lisa got involved with Beyond Boobs! in 2014, she knew right away she was going to one day compete in Starlets of Dance. For the first few years she could never incorporate the event into her schedule, but this year she is ready and eager to take the stage.

“Everything has worked out perfectly,” Lisa said. “The event is on November 13 and it is my thirteenth year as a breast cancer survivor. My father’s birthday is November 13 and I’m dedicating my performance to him. For some people, 13 may be an unlucky number. But for me, any number is a lucky number!”

Lisa is a retired schoolteacher, and she was thrilled when she found out her dance instructor, Melinda Trembley, is also a teacher. The two practice together after school at Melinda’s dance studio at Woodside High School in Newport News, Virginia.

“It’s so weird to walk through the school on my way to the studio,” Lisa said. “I love working with a fellow teacher, and I appreciate that she is willing to work with me after a long day of teaching.”

Lisa and Melinda developed the dance together, and Lisa is eager to tell a story through movement and song. “My first goal is not to make a fool of myself,” said Lisa, laughing. “I also want to entertain people. It’s a soulful dance, and people will realize that breast cancer is tragic, but I want to also tell them that cancer doesn’t have to overtake you. I am a thirteen-year survivor, and I want other women going through the same thing to take away the confidence to overcome their daily trials and tribulations.”

Click here to see a video about what participating in Starlets of Dance has meant to Lisa.

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Starlets of Dance: Meet Shahana

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

Shahana Keisler is no stranger to performing, but when she does she is head-shot-for-shahana-keisler1usually standing behind her trumpet. She currently plays in two orchestras in the area, and is ready to step outside of her comfort zone to perform during Starlets of Dance.

“I love to dance, and when I heard about this event it sounded like a great self-confidence booster,” Shahana said.

Shahana enjoys Latin rhythms, which is why she chose a tango for her performance. “Training has been very creative, fun, and challenging,” she said. “The dance evolves every time my instructor and I get together. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that I will be onstage at the Sandler Center, though.”

DeDe Anderson has been working with Shahana on her moves and getting her ready for the big night. “I’m no stranger to the illness our starlets have experienced,” said DeDe. “Cancer has affected too many of my immediate and extended family, and just one is unarguably too many. Shahana is a strong, sincere and funny young woman whom I enjoy working with. After speaking with her, seeing her strength and undefeated quick smile, this unexpected opportunity came along allowing me to show my support for Beyond Boobs! I’m able to use my passion to rejoice with these courageous woman who fought and still stand. I do this for them, my family, and anyone fighting or surviving.”

Click here to see a video about what participating in Starlets of Dance has meant to Shahana.

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Starlets of Dance: Meet Rachel

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

When reigning Mr. Breast Fest Scott Mielock encouraged Rachel Kirkland to compete in Starlets of Dance, she went for it.

Rachel was diagnosed with breast cancer in September of 2012, and she head-shot-for-rachel-kirklandbecame cancer-free that November. Four years later, she is celebrating her journey by practicing her dance routine for a performance at Starlets of Dance.

Rachel has been paired with professional dancer Melinda Mielock, Scott’s wife. The two will be dancing to a song from the group Gym Class Heroes. “Training has been great,” Rachel said. “It’s not something I have ever done before, and I’m really enjoying it. I look forward to each session, and Melinda and I laugh a lot.”

As Starlets of Dance draws closer, Rachel feels nervous about performing on the large stage at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach, but she is also excited. “I want to do my best and feel proud of myself,” she said. “I want my dance to be a moment in my life that is pure joy. Life is a gift, and I want to be present in that moment and soak it all in.”

Click here to see a video about what participating in Starlets of Dance has meant to Rachel.

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Starlets of Dance: Meet Katrina

By: Jamie McAllister

After weeks of training with professional instructors, seven survivors will grace the stage at this year’s Starlets of Dance, to take place on November 13 at 2:30 p.m. at the Sandler Center in Virginia Beach. Stay tuned to the blog over the next few weeks to learn more about these incredible women who are poised to dance their way into Beyond Boobs! history.

We would love to have you join us as this inspiring celebration of life and dance. Click HERE to purchase your ticket today.

Katrina Keel-Saunders has represented Beyond Boobs! as a model in A heat-shot-for-katrina-keel-saundersCalendar to Live By 2016, and on November 13 she will be taking the stage to compete in Starlets of Dance. It’s her first time performing on a stage, but she is ready for the challenge.

“I wanted to show my kids and myself that I could do this,” Katrina said. “Even though cancer has come into my life, I can still have fun. It didn’t bring me down. I feel like having cancer gave me more courage to take risks.”

Katrina has chosen a Kelly Clarkson song for her piece, and she has been hard at work with her dance instructor, Bonnie Hackett. “I’m definitely getting my workout in,” Katrina said, laughing. “Someone watching me at the studio said they were impressed. I just really hope I’m good.”

Katrina and Bonnie practice two evenings a week for up to an hour. Afterwards Katrina rushes home from practice to spend time with her husband, three children, and dog. It’s tiring, but she knows the work will all be worth it.

“I want to really send a message with the surprise ending of my dance,” Katrina said. “My kids are so happy and excited to see what I will do. I want to inspire people with my dance and show them they don’t have to be afraid to step out of their comfort zone.”

Click here to see an interview with Katrina that appeared earlier this month on WTKR-TV’s Coast Live show! Her interview starts at 1:49.

Click here to watch her video about what her experience preparing for Starlets of Dance has meant to her.

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2017 Calendar Models: Meet Christy Birgen

We can’t believe it has been ten years since the very first Beyond Boobs! calendar model was chosen for our annual A Calendar to Live By! Our calendar is also a health guide in disguise and offers a year of hope and inspiration, along with reminders to put your health first. We are beyond grateful to our generous sponsors, as well as the 100-plus calendar models who have graciously represented BB! and their fellow Boobers! over the years.

During the next several weeks on the blog you will meet the Boobers! who were chosen as calendar models for A Calendar to Live By 2017. You are also hereby invited to join us at the Pink Carpet Gala on Saturday, September 17, as we unveil this year’s calendar. See you there!

By: Jamie McAllister

A mammogram led to Christy Birgen’s diagnosis of breast cancer in November of 2013, at the age of 43. When herchristycloseup2 surgeon put a copy of A Calendar to Live By in her hands, she knew she had found an incredible group of fellow survivors and supporters.

Christy and her husband Michael live in College Station, Texas, where she is hard at work on a graduate degree in mental health counseling. The couple has two sons, Ryan (17) and Jacob (15). The family also includes Maxx, a German shepherd-American bulldog mix. Here Christy talks about faith, beauty, and spreading Boober! love all through the great state of Texas.

What is the most daring thing you have ever done?

Rappelling into an underground cavern swimming hole.

If you could meet anyone from history, who would it be and what would you do together?

I would want to meet Jesus and witness his earthly ministry.

What was your first summer job as a teen?

Babysitting.

What is guaranteed to always make you smile?

Witnessing something beautiful in nature, such as a sunset or being at the ocean.

What does being selected as a calendar model mean to you?

DCIS has some controversy around it regarding treatment (or not) and if it is pre-cancer or cancer. I hope to advocate for DCIS and spread awareness for breast cancer and early detection. My cancer was found early and reduced my treatment. If we can’t avoid breast cancer, I want all women to have the least invasive treatment possible, which means early detection. In addition, I have moved from Virginia to Texas and started a Not Your Typical Support group. I hope being a calendar girl spreads the Beyond Boobs! love here in Texas!!

What was the most impactful moment of your calendar model photo shoot?

Feeling beautiful and powerful and realizing it’s a way to share my story with other women, to let them know they are strong enough to fight this disease. Understanding the responsibility that comes with being a calendar girl and being one of the many faces of breast cancer.

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