Ep. 5: Dalia's Fight Story

On this week's episode of Fight Club, we share the unbelievable story of Dalia Schaffer. In the fall of 2021, Dalia was just a normal 20-year-old studying psychology at McGill when she felt a lump in her breast one night. Initially, Dalia thought it was nothing. However, in only a matter of weeks, Dalia was diagnosed with the unthinkable: breast cancer. 


Obviously, at only 20 years old, breast cancer was the last thing Dalia would have imagined this mysterious lump was. After discovering it, Dalia returned home to Toronto, where she had booked an ultrasound and mammogram – to rule anything out. Quickly, though, it became apparent to Dalia that this lump ought to be something more serious. From the second she received her ultrasound and mammogram, doctors and technicians asked her about her family breast cancer history. She knew right away. It was cancer.

In just a short two days, Dalia's diagnosis was official. Dalia had Stage 3 breast cancer, which had also spread a to her lymph nodes. She would require eight rounds of chemotherapy, followed by a double mastectomy - surgical removal of both her breasts and 19 lymph nodes- and finally, radiation. Ultimately, Dalia knew the journey would be long and hard, and life as she knew it would have to pause for a while. Nevertheless, Dalia was ready to fight.

In the beginning, this was hard for Dalia. Only a week after her diagnosis, her friends were back at school celebrating Halloween. Meanwhile, she was at home preparing for her first round of chemotherapy. Also, McGill had just announced that the exchange program would commence - something Dalia was supposed to be part of, but obviously, she would no longer be able to participate in. Although Dalia suffered unbearable FOMO, she reminded herself of the incredible journey she was on. She needed her parents close by her side.

The added layer of COVID-19 did not help. Dalia's chemotherapy treatments left her severely immunocompromised. Sometimes, Dalia couldn't even go to the grocery store - even with three masks. December break was especially difficult. Finally, all Dalia's friends were home from school; however, Omicron, coupled with her immunosuppression, made it difficult to see her friends - reasonably, no one wanted to sit outside in the middle of December. But, once again, Dalia found a way to make it fun. She spent the Holiday season surrounded by her family. And, when she could, sitting outside in the cold with her friends!

Throughout this journey, Dalia knew she would have a lot of free time. She wanted to do something but had no idea what that "something" was. At one point, she even thought about baking cookies. Then, her Mom suggested perhaps writing a blog. Furthermore, her Mom came up with the "best name ever": Living My Breast Life. With a name like this, Dalia had to do it.

Instantly, Dalia started writing a blog. First, it was for herself - she didn't show anyone. Then eventually, as chemo began, she began to post about it and share it with the public. It was a great source of awareness for people regarding what she was going through in her crazy life.
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Dalia's blog has provided her with a positive outlet during her journey with breast cancer. Writing has helped ease her sadness and anxiety in the process because she can talk about her journey positively and with strength and courage, which has set a positive tone amongst her community.
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Although the journey is far from over, Dalia has reached quite a few milestones. Now, Dalia is finished chemo, as well as her double mastectomy. Next up is radiation - she is not quite ready, as she is still healing from her surgery. Dalia hopes to be ready to start her radiation in May. Then, once this is complete, she will start pill chemo. Pill chemo will last for a year and a half and aim to prevent her cancer from coming back in the future.  
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This is only a tiny snippet into Dalia's inspiring story. We encourage you to check out the Podcast in its entirety on YouTube, Spotify or Apple Podcasts – you will not regret it. We also encourage you to check out Dalia's Blog, Living My Breast Life.
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Dalia's approach to life is something we can all learn a lesson from. Despite all that she has been through - and continues to go through - she never forgets the importance of having a smile on her face. She is a true inspiration to all of us. Thank you, Dalia!
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