How Carolina Diaz owns cancer

At eight months pregnant, all while mothering a two-year-old, Carolina Diaz discovered a lump on her breast. The Columbian-Canadian knew immediately that there was something deeply wrong. While her gynecologist told her not to worry, that it just had to do with her breast milk, Carolina knew in her heart that this was not the case, “I kind of knew it was something bad”. The lump grew after her baby was born, and Carolina was insistent that something was not right. On May 5, 2021, she received her breast cancer diagnosis.
“I couldn’t believe that was happening to me,” Carolina says.

Three weeks after her diagnosis, and after giving birth to her now one-year-old, Carolina went into surgery for her cancer and began an intense treatment that would take a full year to complete. In addition to the raging hormones and usual parental stress she was experiencing after giving birth to herdaughter, Mila, Carolina was forced to face a devastating diagnosis at a time in her life that was meant to be happy and full of life.

Young mother with breast cancer and her daughter

Carolina’s stress at this diagnosis was largely centered around her children, “I cannot die because this baby needs me to live”. To add on to the stress, Carolina’s family was still in Columbia. She called her cousin, who is a doctor, to break the news. Her cousin’s words shifted Carolina’s mindset in a way that would change her journey for the better going forward: “You have to put into your mind that you’re not going to die of this”.

From that day forward Carolina practiced meditation and shifted her mindset to a more positive one and focused on her wellbeing. Her mother flew all the way out from Columbia to care for her new born baby as her husband worked and she focused on her own wellness.

For Carolina, good family support was the “key” to not only surviving her cancer journey, but thriving throughout it.

Young woman with breast cancer receiving treatment

Despite this dark chapter, things began looking up for Carolina and her family. “After the diagnosis, blessings started coming,” says Carolina, who shifted her focus to strengthening important relationships, bettering her mindset, and pursuing adventures that she has always wanted to go on.

Stepping into the Tom Baker centre, Carolina was met with positivity and empathy from all who work and volunteer there, “I felt like I wasn’t alone”.

She also felt the gaze of other patients at the centre, and heard remarks about how young she was, and how terrible it is for this to happen to someone so young. She met all of this by going to the store and buying a variety of colorful scarves with which to wrap her newly bald head (which her daughter, Luciana, helped her shave).

With her head held high, Carolina got dressed up to receive treatment, “if people are looking it’s because I’m beautiful,” she says.

Young woman with breast cancer shaving head

Throughout her treatment Carolina recalls beautiful memories shared with her family. She recalls a wig made out of her own hair, which she was originally intending to donate her self, as well as her cousin’s and her sister’s hair, gifted to her.

She also recalls shaving her head with little Luciana, and celebrating baby milestones with baby Mila; and fondly, a beautiful Christmas basket gifted by some donors that made her cry, and so much more.

Her children provided extra light and love during what would otherwise be a very dark time. The eldest, Luciana, described as the “chaotic” child of the family, always brought a smile to Carolina’s face throughout her treatment with her antics and sense of humor. Mila, short for Milagro, translates from Spanish to “miracle”, and Mila was just that for Carolina.

“She is my miracle, she came into this world to help me through hard times”.

Now, Carolina is recovering from some of the after effects of her treatment, and focusing on spending even more time with her children. She is excited for the new Calgary Cancer Centre, and given her positive experiences at the Tom Baker she can only imagine what awaits at the Calgary Cancer Centre when it opens.

Overall, Carolina feels fortunate to have gone on this life journey in Alberta, as she recognizes the generosity of Albertan donors and all of the resources that were available to her through such generosity.

Mother with daughters after cancer diagnosis

“I feel really lucky that this happened to me in Alberta,” – Carolina Diaz

Despite the hardships that arose from her diagnosis, Carolina has pulled some important life lessons from this experience. In addition to learning to let go, she has learned the importance of a positive mindset, and of also recognizing the significance of one’s experience in the grander scheme of things.

She urges those going through their own cancer journeys to recognize that they are not alone, “many people go on this journey… you have to find something to hold on to”. Carolina is closer to her family than ever before, and now donates the Alberta Cancer Foundation every month as a way to give back. She is looking forward to having more time on her hands so she can volunteer as well.

Now, Carolina Diaz is up to any challenge, and knows she can face anything with her positive mindset and the help of her family.

“You cannot let cancer define you”. – Carolina Diaz


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Help make an impact for patients and donate to the OWN.CANCER campaign today.

How Sam Kwong is helping us own cancer

Sam Kwong recently joined his first marathon as a fundraiser, in which he decided to support the Alberta Cancer Foundation. To say his efforts were successful would be an understatement. Sam ran over 21 kilometres and raised over $5,000 for Albertans facing cancer. With the Calgary Cancer Centre being an initiative he is passionate about, we wanted to learn more about his ‘why’.


Tell us about yourself…

“My name is Sam Kwong and I am married to my wife, Amanda Keay, who I met in Calgary 14 years ago. We have an eighteen-month-old daughter named Chloe and she is expecting a baby brother this October 2022!

I have worked multiple jobs starting from the age of 14 years old. During the time frame between 14 to 18 years old, I worked as a day camp volunteer, newspaper sales personnel, cashier, and so on. I place a strong emphasis on character building and work ethic because I find them as core fundamentals to a successful career and life.

A few years ago, I graduated from a degree in business with a major in accounting and pursued my CPA, CMA designation after graduating. I currently own and operate two small and humble businesses: one in educational development ( and the other in recruiting for high-growth startup companies in Silicon Valley (

My favorite job of all though, is my journey in learning to become the best father and husband that I can be for my family. My commitment is to be there for them and spend as much time as possible with them. Monday to Sunday, if you come knocking on our door we are very likely home together, so feel free to come in for some food and beverages!

International travel is the most impactful investment I have made in my lifetime. I am blessed to have studied, worked and lived abroad on many occasions. To date, I have travelled to 23 or more countries, and my ultimate goal is to expand my perception of the world by seeking to understand others from various ethnic and cultural backgrounds.

Curiosity flows through my DNA and is a big contributor to why I prefer having deep and real conversations about any open topic with anyone, anywhere in the world. The latest book I have been reading is Survival of the Nicest: How Altruism Made Us Human and Why It Pays to Get Along by Stefan Klein.

Time flies, so I constantly educate and dedicate myself to areas and situations in which I am able to make a difference. When the intentions are good, we ought to just let it flow naturally. No matter the industry or career, I truly believe in aiming to be the best at everything you do, in order to reap what you sow.”


Calgary Cancer Centre FundraiserWhat inspired you to fundraise for the Alberta Cancer Foundation? What do you hope to see accomplished with this funds?

“I finally stopped making excuses and built up the courage to run my first half marathon on May 29, 2022. I had decided to raise funds by contributing to a cause that our network and communities may all have unfortunately faced – cancer.

The beginning of 2022 started off a little rocky. I had lost my Aunt Ping to cancer rather abruptly. Ping was awesome and lived a simple life. Her three favorite things were Dim Sum, Newspaper, and Chinese New Year Red Pockets (I mean who doesn’t like good fortune and some extra cash to spend?). I miss her and her authenticity to truly be herself throughout all these years.

As a result, I personally dedicated my first run to Aunt Ping and the funds raised to help support the efforts of Alberta Cancer Foundation. In less than 3 weeks we had raised over $5000! Many who know me understand that my friends are considered my family and vice versa. The success and recognition goes to my network of friends and family who have been there since day 1. I am humbled and blessed to have a strong support group with such big hearts. They are the real champions!

I hope the funds help in accomplishing two things.

1. Dramatically increasing the survival rate of cancer patients to 100%.

2. At a minimum, mitigate patient suffering through accelerated technologies and innovative progress against cancer.”


Have you or a loved one been impacted by cancer? What did this journey look like?

“Yes. Earlier this year, I had lost my Aunt Ping and she was taken from us rather quickly. Unfortunately, Ping’s journey through cancer was short lived. We had a little less than 1 month with her since she was diagnosed and in the blink of an eye she was gone.

Similar to many of us, we hear of many cases of close family members and friends battling this chronic disease. As a community we have made significant advancements to cancer treatment however until cancer is put to rest we still have work to do. These tragic life experiences teach you many many lessons.

One of the main lessons I learned is to smile often, and cherish the people and relationships you have around you. Dance through the ups and downs of life’s experiences with them one day at a time, and remember to have fun while doing so.”


Calgary Cancer Centre FundraiserWhat does the new Calgary Cancer Centre mean to you?

“To me, the new Calgary Cancer Centre means that we have a significantly larger force of hardworking passionate people that are making their best attempt to put cancer to rest for good. Cancer is a topic that can be dark and morbid, but I firmly believe that we must continue to fight and the Calgary Cancer Centre is a dedicated space to do just that. I look forward to the day when we can rid this disease away once and for all!”


At the Calgary Cancer Centre, we’re bringing together researchers, medical teams, prevention experts, patients and families in ways never before possible. Learn about how you can help us OWN.CANCER.