Sunday, June 12, 2011

Happy Anniversary

One year ago today I went into the ER with a terrible headache and neck pain. We suspected it would be meningitis. I remember being really scared to get a spinal tap. They drugged me up to help with my headache, and to make it so I wouldn't feel the spinal tap. They sent us up to a room where we worried over what type of meningitis I had. I was quietly praying that I would be able to get better in two weeks for nationals. Around 9 pm the infectious disease doctor came in and kept saying that he was really hoping this would turn out to be meningitis. We were all a little bit confused. Then he mentioned that there were small signs of leukemic blasts in my blood, and that they were calling in an expert to come take a closer look. Before leaving the room he assured us that the "odds were in my favor", and that he really felt strongly that this would be meningitis. After an hour went by they called my parents out of the room, and I began to panic. My fears were confirmed as I saw the doctors and my parents walk back towards the room, with tears streaming down their face. I had leukemia. They told us that they were going to transport me up to primary children's immediately. My mom was not allowed to ride in the back of the ambulance with me, so I rode alone with an ambulance attendant, while my mom rode up front and my dad followed behind in a car. It was the longest ride of my life. I quietly sat and cried, wondering what would happen to me. Hoping that they were wrong. I called and texted a few friends and told them what was going on. It was now about 1:30 in the morning. The next morning they did a number of tests to confirm what type of Leukemia I had. It turned out that I was diagnosed with what was considered to be the "worse" of the two most common types. I tearfully called the college coaches that I had been in contact with, and informed them that I would not be at nationals in a couple of weeks. That day I had a large number of visitors, friends and family rushed up to come see me. It was a very sad day but I tried my best to stay positive. I don't think it had really sunk in yet. This was the start of the longest year of my life.

It is funny how the longest year of my life seemed to go by pretty fast. Maybe it was because of all the medication I was on that much of it seemed like a blur. I was forced to grow up faster than I would have liked. Forced to worry about whether I would live or die, rather than what I was going to wear to school the next morning.

I went through over 130 days in the hospital, over 3 weeks at a time without being able to eat, countless medicines and chemotherapies, the scare of not being able to get into remission, full body irradiation, one bone marrow transplant, and I now sit here today cancer free. I have learned that life is so very fragile, and should be treasured. I have learned the importance of the support that friends and family can offer. I have learned that cancer is almost a bigger emotional battle than it is physical. I will admit, sometimes I forget the lessons I have learned. Cancer hasn't made me perfect by any means, it has just taught me a lot. And even though I am still struggling to get back to my normal self.... I believe that when I do I will be a better person because of all I have learned.

We are not on this earth to struggle alone. The whole point is that we help one another out. To quote high school musical, "WE'RE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER". I am so grateful that I have had a wonderful support system. Now I am sort of beginning to ramble. So I will conclude this post by saying thank you so much for all that each and every one of you has done. Your prayers have made all the difference! Here is to a healthy year to come!



  1. Rachel, thanks for letting us follow your journey through your blog. I'm so thrilled for you and your family. You've come down a long road. Congratulations!

  2. Congrads! The way you have handled this trial has inspired so many and will continue to. You are a real hero!

  3. Rachel, that was well written! I appreciate the time you took to write it. I'm grateful too, that we're all in this together! I agree with have inspired so many and will continue! I'm excited for you and your healthy year!!

  4. I love you and hope that things will continue to go well for you. We pray for you always and your name is always on the Vernal Temple prayer roll. I know that God loves you and your family. Keep trying and things will work out.

  5. Rachel, your courage and strength is amazing. You have done so much to inspire so many. I have loved following your blog. Your positive attitude often made my day better and inspired me to try and help others more. Thank you. You are always in my prayers and I hope and pray that you will have a wonderful, healthy year this year.

  6. Rachel, what a great reflection on the most memorable year of your life. It's been memorable for us, too - we're so glad that we've been able to be there during this journey. Cancer sure does provide perspective, as you said. I hope we can all treasure life and those around us a little more easily because you've helped us to learn. Love you!

  7. I remember being there in ICS with you guys and thinking that we'd never make it to this point. AND YET WE DID! I am so thankful that you are home, being normalish, and that you are free of cancer. This is truly something to celebrate. I remember the first time we met you and how grateful I was to have FINALLY met another family with AML. We were so lonely and so scared until we met your family. Thank you so much for being our friends! We love you so much!

  8. Lori Steele RasmussenJune 13, 2011 at 3:29 PM

    My husband and I both agree that this is a very well written post. You should save it for your college application essay :) We're so proud of your courage through all this and the way you've reached out to help others. You're a rockstar!

  9. Happy One Year!!! That is huge! It certainly is a time of mixed emotions. We are so happy that things are looking up all the time - we admire you and your family!

  10. Thank you for all you have taught us this year. We all love you and so happy for you. Love you Shelbys Grandma

  11. I am so GRATEFUL you are cancer FREE! I am also grateful it wasn't raining on the 12th this yr

  12. I love you Rachel! I miss you and your amazing family so very much!
    You have taught me more this year than anything I have learned anywhere else
    I can't tell you all that I have learned, but I will say that you have made us all so very proud of you, and made us search deep within ourselves to see if we would have your strength!
    I know there were down days and I know there were up days, but what I know more than that is that you were the same Rachel everyday! The one that never gave up, never said forget it! Worked hard to get to where you are right this minute!
    I know you are still working hard to get yourself to back into that very busy life!
    You will before you know it be playing volleyball and loving every minute of it!
    Thanks for letting me follow this journey of yours! Thank you for using this blog just as I hoped you would do!
    You are, and always will be, a joy in my life!
    Thank you for being my friend!
    You are awesome!
    I love you, Shelley

  13. here here, Rachel! Great post. I think you need to get yourself a cancer piñata and beat the crap out of it once a year, to celebrate and remind it who's boss.

  14. I found your blog in a round about way, but I just wanted to let you know how inspirational this whole blog is to me right now. My teen son (also a junior in HS and an athlete) was diagnosed with AML a few weeks ago and will likely get a BMT as part of his 4th round of chemo. After reading all of the negative stats on the internet, it's great to read a happy story.