Rachel is a stage IV Hodgkins Lymphoma survivor who shares her story through her Instagram page, @therachaelannn. On her page, you can find mental health tips, fitness videos and bright positivity that is guaranteed to bring sunshine to your feed!
What is your cancer diagnosis and how was it discovered?
I was diagnosed in June 2020 after months of hot flashes, fatigue, and shortness of breath. After a biopsy of a mass in my collarbone area, I have diagnosed with Stage 4 Hodgkins Lymphoma. Then I went through 12 chemotherapy treatments, so far I am 6 months in remission!
What is the biggest piece of advice that you have for newly diagnosed patients?
The biggest piece of advice I could give someone who is newly diagnosed is: don't push down your emotions. Feel your emotions, admit that this circumstance stinks, don't hide the fear or sadness. If you need to express yourself, write, draw, sing, dance, drive, journal, let it out! You'll want to "be brave" for the people around you, but you can be strong and courageous for yourself, while also admitting that this is a hard pill to swallow.
What is the most important thing you learned from your cancer experience?
The most important thing I learned during cancer as a whole, well two things.
A. You can't control everything that happens to you in life, but you can control how you react and grow from anything thrown at you.
B. Listening to your body is way more important than you think! Our bodies give us cues and signals about its needs but we have to be in tune with it to know what to respond with.
What was the most difficult aspect of organizing your care/community?
A few difficulties about my care in chemo was probably the fact that I was only around my family. As much as I love my family, they were the only people I saw and it became lonely at times. Even family members, no matter how much they love and care for you, might try too hard to relate or empathize with cancer patients. That happened quite frequently for me. That's why it's so important to admit when you're feeling down, tired, sick, or emotional. Putting on a brave face is amazing, but family members could downplay what you're going through, but cancer is nothing to be downplayed.
Please feel free to share any other thoughts you have on your personal experience!
Since being diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma, if I had a dollar for every time someone told me "Oh you'll be fine, it's good cancer," I could cash flow my way through my Master's Program. No matter the classification of your cancer, stage 1, 2, 3, 4, terminal, it's not "good" or "easy". When I started sharing my story on social media, the number of fellow fighters and survivors that reached out, rallied behind me, and shared their struggles, have been astronomical. Each person's experience with cancer is different. Giving a diagnosis the nickname "Good ___" does not make it any easier!
No matter the nickname of your cancer or diagnosis-
You are strong
You are brave
You can admit that this is difficult
And you will overcome!
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