Rachel is an active 17-year-old girl who has proven that nothing can slow her down.
After not feeling well for almost a month and a half, Rachel went to the doctor in August 2012. She felt silly even telling him some of her symptoms (like tingly fingers), but after was ordered to get an MRI. She was not at all prepared for what was going to come next. He told Rachel she had a brain stem glioma. After sitting there stunned for what seemed like an eternity, Rachel quietly asked, “Do I have cancer?” to which the doctor replied, “Yes”.
She immediately went to Primary Children’s Hospital only to find out that her brain tumor was inoperable and stats were not’t good about this particular kind of cancer.
A few days later Rachel was accepted into a clinical trial researching brain cancer at St. Jude’s, which meant that she would have to relocate to Tennessee for six weeks and today she is still a part of this trial.
“I'm scared but really excited,” Rachel said, “I've felt so much peace and everyone’s prayers; I honestly don't know how I would've made it through this week without the comfort of the spirit, good friends and an amazing family.”
With her giant support group behind her, Rachel charged head-on into battle with her mantra, “I can do hard things.”
Between one of her trips to Tennessee Rachel found out that she qualified for a wish. Rachel debated whether she should pursue this opportunity. Being 17, she was worried that the Wishing Place was too childish. She had also just barely gotten home and was not feeling well. Ultimately, Rachel and her family decided not to turn down the opportunity and traveled to the Wishing Place. Rachel will never forget how great this experience was. She described the Wishing Room as “magical” and loved how colorful and calming it was. After her family expressed their wishes for her, Rachel made her wish; a family trip to Hawaii.
When asked why she was interested in going to Hawaii Rachel said, “I have wanted to go on a family vacation for a really long time. My brother has been on his mission and my sister has been at school, so we would be together for the first time in a really long time. I really want to get the whole family together and go and do something fun.”
A month later, Rachel’s wish granters, Beth and Tiffany (who she still stays in contact with), threw her a surprise Hawaiian themed party at her school with a bunch of her friends. This let her know that her wish would soon be granted.
At the end of December, Rachel and her family boarded a flight for Hawaii. Rachel and her family had a blast being together on the trip. They enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center, a luau, swimming with dolphins, visiting with family, parasailing (so much that they did it twice) and much more. The trip was wonderful, and what made it even sweeter was that Rachel felt great the entire time.
When asked about the impact her wish had on her she said, “I was used to going between Tennessee and Utah and going from appointment to appointment. I stopped feeling like a regular kid and more like a lab rat… but just to get out of that zone of life made things a lot easier to deal with and I realized that I’m still normal Rachel.”
Less than a week after her trip, Rachel was back in Tennessee and after a longer-than-normal MRI found out her tumor had shrunk. She is still part of a clinical trial that is now moving into phase II, which doesn’t happen for most drugs.
“It is a little scary, but at the same time it is self-fulfilling because you feel like you are helping people for the future,” Rachel said when asked about being a part of a clinical trial.
“I am helping find a cure for the future because there is not one right now.”
After her trip, Rachel and her family had time to celebrate her wish and the progress she is making at her Star Raising party. Many of her friends and family made the trip to the wishing place for this happy day.
“It wasn’t just celebrating the star raising, it was a chance to see people I haven’t seen in a while,” said Rachel.
On March 17, 2013, Rachel posted on her blog that her tumor is still shrinking. She credits it to the prayers of everyone around her and considers it a true blessing. Her ability to remain optimistic under trying circumstances is simply amazing. We feel blessed to know a girl like Rachel and wish her and her family only the best.
Rachel has definitely proven to everyone that she can do hard things.