Humans of UK: Mafe Chaves lives life to the fullest


Abbey Cutrer

Cancer survivor Mafe Chaves poses for a portrait on Monday, Sept. 26, 2022, in Lexington, Kentucky. Photo by Abbey Cutrer | Kentucky Kernel

Kristen Roberts, Reporter

As of Sept. 1, 2022, UK student Mafe Chaves has beat cancer.

Chaves, a 21-year-old junior majoring in political science, said she always sees the brighter side of things, despite her almost nine-month-long battle with stage 4 Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a type of cancer that compromises the lymphatic and immune systems.

Chaves was forced to uproot her entire life after her diagnosis in February 2022. This made her school and social life much harder to maintain. She started to realize day-to-day things people her age could do became a struggle for her.

She said she always had a strong understanding of how she wanted to live life, and her diagnosis changed all of that. She was forced to loosen her strong grasp on life and to start to live in the moment.

“Your life isn’t really linear,” she said.

In other words, she explained, people cannot live life according to a specific plan, because that isn’t living.

Though she said she feels like she missed out on so many things, she still remains optimistic.

“I decided at the very beginning I was gonna be the most positive person about it,” Chaves said.

She also mentioned what an amazing support system she had to rely on throughout; there’s always someone to reach out to. She says one never knows who will reach out in times of hardship, and they never know who their biggest supporters will be.

Going into her second semester of junior year, she said she is excited to be back on-campus surrounded by some who supported her most. She said she is nothing but appreciative for her sorority sisters at Tri Delta, who were so helpful throughout her journey, making UK a home away from home.

One of her biggest fears when swinging back into college was being pitied, but she says the people in her sorority never made her feel that way. She said it was so cool to see how many sororities and fraternities reached out to her.

Recently Chaves had the opportunity to travel to New York City, where some of her biggest goals lie. She said she would love to go to law school, become a big fashion lawyer and be one of the “unique” people in the big city.

She said she continues to go through life with the best mindset possible, and she encourages others to do the same. She doesn’t believe in sweating over the small stuff.

Coping with cancer for her was about not making cancer the defining aspect. She said there’s “so much life to live,” so she encouraged others to make the most of every opportunity.

Chaves mentions what an inspiring journey one like hers could be to just about anyone, and how God always has a plan.

“Everything happens for a reason,” she said.