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Young Cancer Survivor Becomes a Beacon of Hope and Comfort for Others

July 10, 2023

“I’m thankful that the thoracic surgeon at HSC was able to get the sample he needed to confirm his suspicions.”

Mags Bujalski

Mags Bujalski knew that it was important to share both the good and the bad side of her journey with cancer.

When Mags Bujalski was diagnosed with stage four cancer, the only thing she knew about the disease was that chemotherapy makes you lose your hair. Wanting more information, Bujalski immediately went to social media. What she found was a library’s worth of information on childhood cancer, in-depth medical information, and stories of people much older than her fighting cancer. Bujalski, a 22-year-old university student at the time, found next to nothing about someone her age battling cancer and knew that needed to change.

Bujalski decided that she would chronicle her journey online with the hope that others might see it as an educational tool and a comforting story.

“I wanted to be the person that I needed when I was going through this,” says Bujalski.

In February 2019, Bujalski developed a deep cough. She wasn’t too concerned about it given the time of year. When she discovered her left arm was swollen and blue soon after, she thought she had just pulled a muscle or slept on it funny. Bujalski decided to go to a walk-in clinic to be safe.

The doctor determined the swollen blue arm wasn’t an immediate concern because it was caused by her swollen lungs and a lung infection.

Bujalski was sent home after an X-ray and antibiotics. While Bujalski felt fine after taking antibiotics, the follow-up X-ray results were concerning.

“The X-ray showed there was still something in my chest, so I went for a CT scan. The scan showed a mass in my chest. That’s when I was referred to Dr. Larry Tan, an HSC thoracic surgeon who focuses on the lungs and other areas in the chest cavity,” says Bujalski.

Cancer was the last thing on Bujalski’s mind, but Dr. Tan suspected it could be three potential forms of cancer and wanted to perform a biopsy to confirm.

“My biopsy was considered an emergency surgery, and I’m thankful that the thoracic surgeon at HSC was able to get the sample he needed to confirm his suspicions,” says Bujalski.

Bujalski soon found out she had stage four primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma (a rare form of cancer that predominantly affects adolescents and young adults).

Mags Bujalski

Mags Bujalski discovered that she had stage four primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma.

After meeting an oncologist, Bujalski went through six rounds of chemotherapy, which worked, but left some inflammation in her chest. It was Bujalski’s decision whether to go ahead with radiation treatment (to destroy any remaining cancer cells), but Bujalski had learned that chest radiation increased the risk of breast cancer. Bujalski decided to monitor her condition instead.

For the next two years, Bujalski monitored her health, and nothing was out of the ordinary. That was until one day when Bujalski started feeling off. To be safe, she reached out to her oncologist, who had Bujalski go for a PET scan (imaging that uses a special dye to detect cancer and other diseases). The scan unfortunately showed a recurrence of cancer cells.

For five days a week over the next five weeks, Bujalski went to HSC Winnipeg for 21 rounds of radiation in the summer of 2021.

Bujalski’s vigilance paid off as she has since been cancer-free and has another scan in August for her two-year remission milestone.

Mags Bujalski in hospital

Mags Bujalski went to HSC Winnipeg for 21 rounds of radiation in the summer of 2021.

“The cancer changed me completely as a person. I’m very health-oriented now, and I see health in a completely different light. Health is truly wealth. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or how successful you are, if you don’t have your health then you ultimately don’t have anything,” says Bujalski.

Bujalski hopes that by sharing her story, she can raise awareness of cancer in young adults. She wants her journey to be a source of comfort for others and give young adults a general idea of what they might be going through, while realizing that everyone’s journey is different.

“When you are in your early 20s, you kind of think you’re invincible and can do anything,” says Bujalski. “Being diagnosed with cancer can be scary, and I hope my story can help, even if it’s just one person.”

Mags Bujalski on her exercise bike

Mags Bujalski has adopted a lifestyle focused on being healthier, which she continues to document on her social media platforms.


Please help the HSC Foundation continue to support Manitobans when they need it the most. Please visit our donation page and consider making a donation to the GD-6 Renovation Fund, which helps cancer patients like Mags Bujalski. You can follow Bujalski’s journey with cancer on her YouTube channel, or Instagram page.

By Andrew Lysack