Chia Wollschlager: Double Warrior of Cancer
We were honored that the magazine Visionarias asked Chia to tell her story, her path to recover from breast cancer and how she became an educator and supporter of the cancer community. According to the World Health Organization (WHO) there were 2.3 million women diagnosed with breast cancer and 685 000 deaths globally in 2020. There were 7.8 million women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the past five years, making it the world’s most prevalent cancer.
Visionarias is a magazine based in Mexico and written in Spanish. You can read the complete interview in Spanish here >>
**** For English, please read the following ****
CHIA WOLLSCHLAGER: DOUBLE WARRIOR
Six years ago, a routine check-up before her 40th birthday became the diagnosis that would change the destiny of Chia Wollschlager, a woman from El Paso, Texas, who transformed her breast cancer into a life project.
Chia tells Visionarias her story, her path to recover her health and how she became, without looking for it, an educator about the disease. According to the latest data recorded by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020, cancer took the lives of over 685,000 women worldwide.
Weeks before her 40th birthday, Chia went to her gynecologist for a routine checkup and mammogram, which she said took all day to do.
Hearing the results, however, was fast. A nurse called her the next day that she had cancer and would need to start treatment immediately.
After the call, she was confused. Cancer wasn't in their family. It wasn't in her circle of friends. And it wasn't something she studied for in college. She had no information. However, she did have her sister, who immediately went to her side to support her.
“We didn’t know anything; I realized that it’s a completely different education. It’s my body. It’s my life. I want to live, but what do I need to do. We didn’t have a clue,” she recalls.
“The first thing you think is ‘I’m going to die,’ that’s the first thing… but I’m barely 40 years old, and what about my daughters,” she questioned.
At first, Chia doubted that she had cancer because she never presented any symptoms. However, she accepts that it was because of that mammogram that she learned she had cancer and learned just in time.
Chia’s Silver Lining
After the diagnosis, sorting out her ideas and beginning to educate herself, Chia decided to sell her company. Although fearful of what was coming in her life and fearful for her daughters, she promised herself that she would not allow other people not go blindly into a cancer diagnosis.
“I have resources, but it wasn’t enough,” she said.
That led her to think about how a person who did not have anything to deal with the disease would cope, so she leaned on the people she met at the hospital and started to work.
“I don’t want anyone to feel what I felt along the way, that panic of not knowing; it paralyzes you not knowing where to start,” she says.
That’s when Chia’s Silver Lining was born. CSL is a nonprofit that supports and encourages people going through challenging health situations.
Through her website, chiasilverlining.com, this survivor dedicated herself to giving courses to people newly diagnosed with cancer, regardless of whether they are men, women or children, as well as to their families or close friends, who at this point do not know how to help the patient, what to do or what role to play in this new and unknown stage.
Thus, Chia also promotes Cancer+Careers, a virtual support program that offers sessions to address urgent questions and problems related not only to the disease but also to work, diet, exercise, mental health and daily life after a positive diagnosis.
For six months, patients must apply themselves to the program. “All I ask is that you give me that time to make that change in your life,” Wollschlager asks.
But the help of Chia and her team is not limited to digital consulting; she also decided to start a business in products for the sick, whose profits are used to support others or simply benefit the community.
In the online store, chiasilverlining.com, you can find any number of products created, designed and tested that will help patients going through cancer, as well as for the people who are dedicated to caring for them.
The items come in various price points to suit all tastes. They can be purchased individually or in a basket version containing several items properly chosen to fulfill a specific function. There is everything from creams and oils to even clothes that Chia herself designed.
“Sometimes when people are going through cancer, we don’t know how to help them…each product has a reason,” she adds.
Back in the battle: Double Cancer Warrior
After that diagnosis six years ago, Chia complied fully with her treatment, underwent a partial mastectomy, had 15 radiations and was treated with Tamoxifen, which allowed her to survive and remain in remission for five years.
After the end of that period, the pandemic arrived and then seclusion at a time when she wanted to put her life into Chia's Silver Lining.
Just as the pandemic ebbed, this brave woman went again to have her mammogram, which showed that the cancer reappeared in the same breast and the same stage as the first one (Stage I).
So four months ago, Chia returned to the battlefield to fight this new round of cancer, but this time as a "Double Warrior". She is stronger and more educated than the first time. We are sure that she will defeat this adversary again.