I saw Catherine's beautiful post and knew it would fit perfectly for Love Thursday. I've been wanting to post about my friend Rachel for some time. Rachel has such inner strength and beauty that I felt that my little corner of the Internet needed to know her. I've known Rachel for a few years (our husbands work for the same company and are hunting buddies). Rachel has always been very pretty, she's a pharma rep, so it is settled that she has to be pretty- tall, blonde, pretty. About a year ago, things started to go badly for Rachel and her husband. The short story is that after a long period of struggling, Rachel finally became pregnant. We knew a little of their struggles to conceive and always thought it was amazing how they would hang out with us and our children around all of our friends' kids and not show any sadness. I know it must have hurt them to see all those kids running around. Anyhow, Rachel was finally pregnant. And we were all so very excited. They really deserved to be parents and we could see their happiness. Unfortunately, the baby miscarried. We were devastated for Rachel and her husband. But, we were totally unprepared for what would happen next.
Rachel noticed something felt wrong and went to her doctor for confirmation. I won't tell her story here, because it is her story to tell. The diagnosis was breast cancer. Not just breast cancer, but Stage 4 breast cancer that had spread through her body. It was a complete shock. Rachel still looked healthy and happy. Knowing what we knew about cancer, we knew this was not a good diagnosis. We were all really scared. We were all at a loss for what to do and what to say. Rachel showed us all. She screwed up her courage and used it to fight the cancer. She did what she had to do. She had a mastectomy. She took her chemo. She visualized beating the cancer. Over the course of the past 6 months, she has managed to shrink her tumors. I say she because there's only so much credit you can give to the chemo. I think her power showed that chemo where to go and what to attack. She shaved her beautiful hair. She bought wigs and scarves, and changed her wardrobe slightly. But, she also continued to live. She continues to live. She refuses to let cancer dictate who she is. She is beautiful. She is strong.
We try to make sure Rachel has support when her husband leaves (the business our husbands are in causes them to be gone for stretches of time with little notice, hers and Alex's husband far more than mine). Rachel came over about a month ago for dinner. I missed most of that dinner, but my husband took a few pictures. I looked through the pictures and saw how Rachel had all the girls climbing all over her. They were all trying on her wig. And, I thought, God, she is beautiful. Rachel is so much more now than she ever was. You see her strength, her courage, her beauty far more than before cancer. You see the scars of cancer. But, you see the triumph. Her spirituality and heart are more noticeable now. It appears that she takes everything in her stride. Before cancer, she was pretty. But, I didn't really know her. Now, I know who she is. She is a woman of incredible character and strength. She is a woman who loves her husband, family, and friends so much that she is willing to go through hell to make sure she's there for them. She refuses to be sidelined. She refuses to change. She is living her life, beautifully. She deserves to know that we all are amazed. She needs to know that her beauty is stronger now. She is a model for us all. The fight is not over yet. There is a long way to go before she is cancer-free. But, today, Rachel is beautiful. Today she is loved. Today I am proud to be her friend.