Women Who Turned Their Mess Into Their Message: Part Three: Mandy Young

This is the final installment in the series about women who turned their mess into their message. You are about to meet one of my favorite people EVER!

I met Mandy at a Hearts at Home conference in March. I was speaking and so was the woman to whom she serves as an assistant, Candace Cameron Bure.

I was excited to meet Candace after having done some online ministry with her through a magazine site she’d started. I never dreamed I’d come home even more excited about meeting her assistant! {Sorry Candace!}

Mandy Young is a breathtaking woman. Her smile, her friendly personality, her mind-blowing story—they all take your breath away.

Mandy only has one leg. And she has a wild story as to why. But that isn’t the important fact. What matters most is that Mandy also knows the one true God. She’s determined that her life here on earth is not at ALL about her. It is all about Him.

Meet her now:

Photo by Susan Crutchfield photography

“What happened to your leg?” is a question that Mandy Young is asked everyday. But there is no easy answer. She has lived a life that most would not choose to live. From staying months at a time in hospitals, to 27+ years of research, to being diagnosed as the only person in the world that has her genetic defect. And while her life has been a roller coaster ride of ups and downs, she wouldn’t change a single day.

Growing up, she was consumed with illness. But the most devastating was when she lost her left leg and hip to a massive infection.

Her story has been featured in countless newspaper articles like USA Today, in Good Housekeeping Magazine and on T.V. shows like Extra, Montel Williams, NBC Nightly News and international programming like CNN’s Medical Mysteries. She has been honored to be the spokesperson for several organizations and the “Face of Hope” for the new Undiagnosed Diseases Program at the National Institutes of Health.

She’s a southern social butterfly; who loves her family, friends, sweet tea, the color pink and most of all the Lord! She believes she’s one of the cheesiest people you’ll know and that the simple things in life are the best. And long ago she realized her life was too complicated to handle on her own, but with Him everything got easier. “Sometimes I have to remind myself of three things. God will only give you what you can handle, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and when you start to doubt that’s when God gives you more to prove that you can get through it.” says Mandy. And she does it all with a smile on her face.

While sitting at a Christian Women’s Conference she realized “God gave you a story, a personality that has never met a stranger and a mouth that never stops talking…Mandy THIS is what you’re supposed to be doing!! And giving Him the glory for it all!!” So, with her contagious spirit, warm smile and Jesus loving heart, she began sharing her testimony in hopes of helping others overcome obstacles they may be facing.

Mandy with one of her many doctors, Dr. Gallin.

Mandy, tell us what your childhood was like and what your parents discovered was different about you?  Well I started getting life threatening infections at 9 months old and as soon as one was gone another would come along; so honestly my childhood was mostly spent in a hospital or in isolation.  I know that sounds sad but honestly it wasn’t that bad.  My parents tried to give me as much of a normal childhood as they could while following doctors orders.

What incident led to you losing your leg?  There is no easy way to answer this question! Basically I was playing with my sister and I got a small cut on my leg and it got infected.  Because I have a crazy little disease it created it’s own infection of Gas gangrene and Clostridial septicemia.  Even after the amputation I was only given less than a 3% chance to live and I was the first documented case to have the two infections together since World War 2.

How did you keep from getting bitter and turning away from God? What made you turn to Him instead? I have to credit this to my parents.  Faith and laughter have always been a huge part of our lives, through the good and the bad days.  And because of their example and guidance I’ve never questioned why God does what He does.

How has losing your leg helped you find your purpose in life? It wasn’t just my leg; it was I realized that God has given me me this genetic mutation that NO ONE else is in the world has.  That He could have given this to anyone at any point in time in life and He gave it to ME! What a responsibility but I’m happy to do whatever it is that He asks me to do!

Mandy with Candace and with Kirk :-)



FUN FACT: losing your leg also led to you meeting Kirk Cameron and not only becoming friends with his family but becoming his sister Candace’s assistant. Let us hear about that. I’ve
been friends with the Cameron Family for 23 years.  But they aren’t just my friends they are honestly like my family.  I call them all my sisters and brother and their parents are my California parents! I met Kirk when I was in the hospital when I lost my leg.  Then my family and I went to Cali for a long weekend and got to go to the sets of Growing Pains and Full House.  Then I attended Kirk’s Camp Firefly (if you don’t know about this camp you should www.campfirefly.com). And now 23 years later we one big happy family!!

My assistant Kim, me, Mandy & Candace.

What one piece of advice would you give to anyone who is facing a hard place in life—something they never asked for but was done to them anyway? God’s plan is always better than what we have planned for ourselves! This is where my life verse comes in to play Jeremiah 29:11.  He gives us a promise that He isn’t trying to harm us but always do what is best for us! It’s hard because we think we know what is best for us but we don’t have a clue! And once I gave that control up my life got so much easier!

Thanks Mandy! {See, I knew you’d love her too!}

Mandy is giving away one of her Lovin’ Life T-shirts to someone who comments on this post. So, tell us what you loved about her amazing story! Oh and be sure to connect with her on Twitter, over at her site and on Facebook {She currently has 832 “Likes” I say we get that to over 1,000. You In? Let me know you liked her page on Facebook or followed her on Twitter and your name will be entered twice for the t-shirt. Thanks!}

All winners from this series announced on Monday.

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105 Comments

  1. Not only is she a true inspiration and I thank you for introducing her to us….I actually would love to meet her parents through an interview. They are inspirational and a role model for any other parents who might be faced with a situation with one of their children.

    1. Wow! 7 years later I run across this article that I haven’t seen in years and saw your message! Hi I’m Mandy’s mom – Lisa! If you get a chance, go to http://www.MandysStory.com and there’s a section where I tell a little bit of our story.

      Thank you so much for your comment 7 years ago and please accept my apology for not responding sooner!

  2. This post by Mandy truly touched my heart today! I have been a Special Education Teacher Asst. For 32 years. I have spent my life working with children with challenges, advocating for their needs and supporting their families. My daughter was a Special Educator as well. In June 2007, my daughter became pregnant and thus our journey began. We found out very early on that my grandson was facing some extreme circumstances in utero! My daughter and I let them know in no uncertain terms that God was in charge and she would continue the pregnancy. We prayed with great faith. On February 6, 2008, Andrew was born in a delivery room filled with more doctors and nurses than I had ever seen on any TV show! The first moments were crucial as the docs tried to intubate and as I watched I knew that he was scared so I prayed and barked orders to their dismay. Moments later my daughter was allowed to see him before he was whisked away. Hours later we were reunited with him in the NICU and Andrew’s fight for life began! We fought with him and God gave me great strength. It was surmised within a day that Andrew had a very rare genetic disorder which took most babies within 3 days and had no documented research of any child surviving past 3 months. They asked my daughter to sign permission for an autopsy. We flat out refused and summoned the Chief of Pediatrics to her bedside. We told him in no uncertain terms that God was with us and Andrew would be coming home! If they would not work with us then we would go somewhere that would! We never left him unattended by us or a family member and we prayed. I never knew that God had been training me all my life to fight for my own flesh and blood! Needless to say, battle after battle, we were winning and God was with Andrew. 103 days later, we all came home! Andrew has a very rare neuromuscular condition. He is trached and vented. He receives nutrition through a G-tube. He had extremely limited movement other than his eyes. Fast forward to today…Andrew is 5 years old! He has been in my class in public school since the age of 3. His movement has increased if minimally but he is able to communicate with his head movement and eyes. He is on average at level with his peers with concept development and will be included in a regular Kindergarten class next year! He awaits his Tobi C-12 eye gaze computer communication device on order after being the youngest child to have it recommended for by our Technical consulting agency… acing his trial period! God indeed has a plan for Andrew! Praise God! And God had a plan for us! We embrace that plan and thank God for every breath, every moment of our lives! Thank you Karen and Mandy for letting me share our story with you! God bless!

  3. It wasn’t just my leg; it was I realized that God has given me this genetic mutation that NO ONE else is in the world has. That He could have given this to anyone at any point in time in life and He gave it to ME! What a responsibility but I’m happy to do whatever it is that He asks me to do!” As I read this part of Mandy’s testimony I could hear the excitement in her voice that God chose her out of all the people He could have. That she feels blessed and honored to be chosen to do God’s work and will through this. What an inspiration!!!

  4. Wow! What an amazingly inspirational story. And how you are such a beautiful, caring, grateful woman that’s confident and has embraced the gift of your illness to share and inspire God’s love in other people’s lives. I really needed to hear this message as I’m struggling with some issues of my own right now. I’m blessed that I have a very supportive and understanding and proactive support team cheering me through my troubled times. Thank you so much :-)
    Shelley

  5. Wow! Mandy, what an inspiration you are! I love too that you are continuing to speak even as you support/ work for another speaker. Liked your FB page, too. Thanks for sharing!

  6. What is not to love about her message? Jeremiah 29:11 is one of my favorite passages. It’s my go to spiritual vitamin. I’m headed over to Facebook to like her page now.

  7. I love how Mandy describes it as a great honor to be the one chosen with this genetic mutation. You are lovely, Mandy!!

  8. This was just the type of amazing story I needed to read today! In a world, where many people feel like they have to keep up with the Joneses and are constantly worried about having the best of the best, Mandy reminds all of us what is really important; living life to the fullest and embracing all the gifts and challenges God gives each of us. I too have had unfortunate challenges in my life, but today my husband reminded me I should be proud of what I have accomplished and by Mandy sharing her story with the world she reminds those like me that we can make a difference.
    You were right, I love Mandy too and am showing my support for her by following her on Twitter and Liking her on Facebook. Love the t-shirt!

  9. I really liked the quote from Mandy: “That He could have given this to anyone at any point in time in life and He gave it to ME!” It would be so easy to interpret those words as full of self-pity and defeat, but instead Mandy says it as an opportunity to glorify God and share His love. What a great piece of encouragement!

  10. This is so encouraging. I’m a young wife and mother who lives with chronic pain and I HOPE my struggles are handled as beautifully and are as much of a testimony! Love this shirt and it’d be a nice reminder of all this every time I wear it.

  11. Thank you for the inspiration. What you said about not questioning God on why He does what He does speaks a lot to my heart. Thank you for the perspective. You are a blessing.

  12. What an amazing story! Glad I got to read because I wouldn’t have believed otherwise. I will like and follow on the appropriate social sites.
    Mandy’s story just goes to show you that no matter how bad you have it, there is probably someone who has it worse! If you have strong faith anything is possible.
    Jorge Maldonado
    Maple Shade, N.J.

  13. I feel like I was meant to find this article. I just followed Candace on Twitter and came across this at a time in my life when it feels like everything I had planned for and anticipated has fallen apart and taken a different direction. Hearing Mandy’s story, along with her positive outlook and strength, is just the reminder I needed that I have to ‘let go and let God.’ Thank you for this!

  14. Wow!! I have definitely not been through what Mandy has – but I serve the same Awesome God she does – And God knows all about what we go through. I was just talking with a couple of friends today about – how much we need community…we need others to encourage, inspire and move us to Greatness! Thank you Karen for sharing Mandy’s story…What a Great God we serve…Keep on keeping on.
    Teresa

  15. Thank you Mandy for sharing your positive attitude and love for the Lord despite your physical challenges. Your smile is infectious!! Love the shirt too. Blessings to you as you travel and share your testimony.

  16. I am sitting here admiring your attitude- and attitude is everything! Accepting your medical diagnosis as a responsibility is awesome!

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