Alberta Cancer Foundation

Golara Asefi on Self Advocacy during the Cancer Journey

Golara Asefi had built a beautiful life for herself in Calgary. With a successful marketing career, an active lifestyle and an excitement for life, Golara could have never imagined the news she would receive at the young age of 36.


In late summer of 2021, Golara Asefi started feeling strange sensations across her chest and random spikes in her heart rate. She was told that there was nothing to worry about, as she was young and healthy; it was merely suspected to be side effects of the Covid vaccine, or inflammation, or stress—even though Golara insisted that she wasn’t stressed at the time. Golara received bloodwork, echocardiogram, and ultrasounds, but all were met with dead ends. During the span of 6 months, Golara spent multiple hours at walk-ins and the ER, but unfortunately, answers were not found.

Eventually, Golara’s chest pain grew so severe that it hurt to breathe and her constant fatigue was unbearable. Luckily, in April of 2022, she met with a new family doctor who took her symptoms more seriously. Golara received an x-ray, which showed a growth inside her chest.
Several days later, Golara had another visit to the ER due to severe chest pain and breathing difficulties. A CT scan revealed a large tumour in her chest.
After two biopsies and nine months of seeking help, Golara finally received a proper diagnosis—Large B-Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, stage I. She began chemotherapy within the following weeks.
Although she had difficulties receiving a proper diagnosis, Golara refused to give up. She lived by these words all throughout her treatments: “No matter how you feel, get up, dress up, show up, and never, ever give up.”
“I refused to let cancer define me,” Golara says. “Even at my weakest and sickest moments, I still got up and got ready almost every morning and refused to give in and give up.” 
She admits that some days were more challenging than others, but she always cared for herself.
Golara’s faith also helped her navigate the frustrating journey to diagnosis. “For me it was having faith in a higher power who I knew was looking out for me every step of the way.”
No one wants to hear that they have cancer, that was certainly the case for Golara. However, her faith allowed her to tap into a deep sense of gratitude. She states, “I considered myself blessed to have been diagnosed with the type of cancer which is curable.”

Golara is excited for the new Arthur J.E. Child Comprehensive Cancer Centre – opening in 2024. “We’re in desperate need of a facility that provides comprehensive care for cancer patients, so that in the future, cancer patients don’t have to sit in crowded ER rooms for hours… It’s great that cancer patients will be able to seek and receive the best care this country has to offer in a facility that is designed specifically for their needs.

Golara is especially grateful for all the “angels in scrubs”, who cared for her throughout her treatment. From her family doctor, her cancer care team, ER doctors, nurses, paramedics, and her pharmacist—she says that they all played a role in saving her life.
“Our medical professionals have been through some challenging times these last few years and they deserve all of the love, respect, and recognition possible.” 
By sharing her story, Golara hopes to raise awareness and to help others who are going through a similar journey.
“If you feel like something is off with your body, listen to your body, trust it, and do not give up on seeking an answer.”  

Inspired by Golara’s story? You can share your cancer journey too. You never know whose life you could change simply by talking about your own, contact us today.