Meet Magdalena, our 28-year-old ambassador from Poland. Diagnosed with cancer at 18, she shares how she learned to appreciate the little things and embrace her feelings.

Introduce yourself shortly

My name is Magdalena Jaworska, I’m 28 years old and I’m from Poland. In 2013 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma when I was 18 years old, and I started my treatment in 2014. I found out about my disease because I was annoying my doctor about checking up on my unusually big and moving lymph nodes above the collarbone. And although I usually love to be right, I hated that this time I was also right – it was cancer. Unpleasant surprise.

Young cancer hodgkin's Lymphoma survivor

What has the cancer experience taught you?

I learned that you can not pause your life or wait out the worst part. So I take it in handfuls and try to see beauty in every moment I experience. Now it sounds easy, but for my 18-year-old self, it was the worst part of the treatment. To see positivity every day, or at least twice a week, to not give up, to keep myself up no matter what.

What helped you the most during the treatment process?

My sister’s and my mom’s support. They both care for me and I will be forever thankful for it. I got that unspeakable bond with my older sister, so our humor was very often something that was keeping the atmosphere light and not so depressing. Sister bonds like ours made everything easier to bear.

What has changed in your life since your cancer diagnosis?

Meeting other cancer survivors. During my treatment, other patients my age didn’t want to talk and they kept their distance. So the first time when I met any other cancer survivors was in December 2014 in Bucharest during an event for Youth Cancer Europe. Since then I learned what peer support means and how important it is in our lives beyond cancer. We know, understand, and support each other. It’s a very strong relationship from the very first minutes after meeting for the first time.

Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer young survivor Magdalena

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

“You’re mad or sad because you care”. I’m a very temperamental person. As a child and teenager, I was told I was too loud, too sensitive, too intense, and a lot more. Now I know – it takes a lot of courage to show my emotions and be host with them. If I care about it, I will fight for it. I call it passion 🤭✨

What makes you instantly light up?

Memories. I have a lot of memories with all the people I love and care about. Some of them are not around anymore so I like my memories even more. It’s like I have a movie played in my head and all I want to do is feel those emotions again.

What is on your bucket list?

Trip to Asia and to South America. I love to travel and see new regions. Never been outside Europe, so I would like to see Japan, maybe Mexico. It’s a totally different culture than the Polish one, so I’m very excited to experience it one day. Maybe I’ll plan a trip for me and my friends for my 30th birthday in 2025.

What do you do to relax?

I like to think that I’m a hobby collector. In my free time I: paint with acrylics, draw with watercolor crayons, make coasters and candle holders from clay, write my own life story in the form of a comedy show, play games, make graphics, take pictures, hiking in the nearby woods or doing sudoku. There’s a lot and I would love to try even more hobbies.

What are some of your personal rules?

“If they would, they could”. When it comes to appreciation of my actions I don’t need words. I need the same energy and attention I’m giving. I was a “people pleaser” for most of my teenage years, so as a young adult I’m still learning that I need boundaries and more self respect. Also respect for my own time and emotions are very welcome. 🙂

Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer survivor

What lesson was hardest for you to learn?

There are situations in life when you are powerless. I lost people that I care about too soon or suddenly and it’s not fair. Accepting that life is not always fair and it will happen from time to time is frustrating. That’s why I want to be even more present in “now” and appreciate every day.

Which app do you use the most on your phone?

Duolingo. I need to say that I tried to learn Italian, Dutch, and then Romanian. For three months I’ve been learning Spanish. We will see if this one will stick with me. It’s not easy. The lessons are English-Spanish, so I need to translate in my head from Polish too.