NBC's Kristen Dahlgren Shares Inspiring Trip with Other Women Battling Effects of Breast Cancer

NBC correspondent Kristen Dahlgren embarked on a "transformative" rock-climbing trip with other women battling breast cancer

Kristen Dahlgren
Photo: Nathan Congleton/NBC

Kristen Dahlgren is opening up about an inspiring part of her breast cancer recovery journey.

The NBC correspondent, 48, shared an account with Today on Wednesday of her recent trip with the women of iRise Above, a foundation for women going through struggles similar to hers.

Almost two years after first sharing her diagnosis, Dahlgren embarked on a Utah rock-climbing trip with a group of the women from the foundation, which focuses on the benefits of "fitness, mindfulness, camaraderie and adventure" as a means to move forward with breast cancer.

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After recently sharing details of her challenging road to recovery, Dahlgren encountered other empowered and determined women on the journey who were dealing with related issues.

Like her, many of the women on the trip were under the age of 49, including two women who received their cancer diagnoses while pregnant.

While interviewing one of those women, iRise founder Gillian Lichota, Dahlgren reflected that "for a lot of us, you think that part of your life is over when you get a breast cancer diagnosis."

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Lichota replied, "I think a lot of women mourn what they thought their life was going to be, but I think it's important that women realize that this is an opportunity to be transformed."

The video showed Dahlgren, admittedly terrified of heights, experiencing that transformation when she "stepped off a cliff" and climbed down a rock wall near Zion National Park, and the crowning moment at the end when she yelled, "I did it!"

Dahlgren told Carson Daly, Hoda Kotb and the rest of the Today team that the trip was "transformative" and that, after she returned, her husband told her, "you are you again."

She also reflected that "there is no road map for this… these women helped me see what can be next."

More of the segment is featured on Wednesday's NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt.

Earlier this month, Dahlgren penned an essay for Today detailing where she is in relation to her recovery, writing that her "lowest points have come not with diagnosis or chemotherapy, but at a time when I was supposed to be 'cancer-free.' "

"This time last year, I was hopeful," the mother of one shared. "A year out from my cancer diagnosis, I was about to undergo surgery that would reconstruct my breasts and potentially restore the feeling I had lost to mastectomy. I had by all accounts crushed cancer."

"But cancer is not linear. In fact, for many it hovers, long after the cells have been blasted from your body," she added, going on to detail some of the "potentially crippling" side effects of her treatment, which included a mastectomy and removal of cancerous lymph nodes.

Since last sharing an update on Today in October 2020, she wrote, "I have endured three more painful surgeries. One, to reconstruct my breasts using natural tissue from my abdomen and potentially restore some feeling I had lost, and then two more when that was a devastating failure."

"It's important to note my experience is completely different than the multiple women I talked to in researching my surgery, reinforcing the fact there is no cancer playbook," Dahlgren noted in her essay.

"Each of us impacted by this disease is affected in unique ways, and for me, reconstruction has been infinitely harder than treatment," she said.

The reporter and correspondent went on to detail that, fortunately, she has been "surrounded by the most amazing network of breast cancer patients and survivors (or as I now prefer to call them, thrivers)."

On Wednesday, Dahlgren shared that 300,000 women in the U.S. are expected to be diagnosed with breast cancer this year, and that 1 in 5 will be under 49.

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