Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Obituary

(photo credit: Jane Groom)

Rachel Elyse Stratton
1995-2015

After 20 short years on this earth, Rachel Elyse Stratton returned to her Father in Heaven during the early hours of August 23, 2015. Her battle with cancer was only a small portion of her time with us, but she used that time to inspire people at home and around the world.  

“I believe I am my own statistic,” she wrote on her blog, and she set out to prove it was true. In 2012, she was diagnosed with DIPG and given nine months to live. Throughout her trial, she never had a bad attitude. Rather, she found positive in the negative, and constantly looked for new ways to challenge herself and uplift others. Rachel had a deep desire to serve a mission, and although the cancer prevented her from an official call, she came to understand that her blog was her mission. 

Through her blog she inspired thousands. She was never afraid to say the hard things, or speak the truth. She refused to give-in. “I do hard things, but I'm not doing them alone. The Lord has blessed me with so many tender mercies through this trial. The medicines and everything may be healing my body but I know it's through Him that we are truly healed.” Rachel’s life was a testament to faith and a wonderful example of perseverance and strength. 

After her diagnosis Rachel did not slow down. She not only continued to do the things she loved to do, she focused on improving her talents and learning new skills. Besides returning to school and earning a promotion at work, she was an avid reader and a prolific writer, who pursued numerous hobbies including: sewing, quilting, playing the piano, and watercolors among many other things. With a close friend, she also made a business called Mindless, selling sewn goods to raise money for childhood cancer research. Although her illness presented challenges, Rachel faced them with the same tenacity and high spirits displayed throughout her life, turning challenges into opportunities.  

Rachel attended Foothill Elementary, Canyon View Junior High, and graduated from LDS Seminary and Orem High School in 2013, where she was awarded “Most Inspirational Senior”. Rachel loved being outdoors. She ran Varsity track and cross-country for four years, and in 2012, she helped the team win a state championship. Known as “Big Rach” to some, her personality was as big as her love for family and friends. 

She is survived and missed by her parents Chad and Diane Stratton, brother Devin Stratton, sisters Lauren Stratton, Heather Hafen (Cody Hafen), and identical twin Jordyn Swenson (Cooper Swenson).

Rachel’s family would like to thank IHC Homecare & Hospice, St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, Primary Children’s Hospital, Make-A-Wish Foundation, and doctors Jim, J. Clark and Bradley Anderson.

A viewing will be held the evening of Friday, August 28 from 6 to 8 pm at the Walker Sanderson Funeral Home located at 646 East 800 North, Orem, UT. An additional viewing will be held prior to the Funeral Services on Saturday, August 29th from 9:30 to 10:45 a.m. at the Orem Orchard Stake Center. Funeral services will begin at 11:00 a.m. in the Orem Orchard Stake Center on 600 North 800 East, Orem, UT. In lieu of flowers donations can be made to www.thecurestartsnow.org in Rachel’s name. 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

August 23

After a long and hard week, around 1:07 this morning we had the sacred experience to be with Rachel as she transitioned from her broken body to a beautiful world free from the pains and sorrows of this mortal life. She was surrounded and held by our family as she received the best early Christmas present she could have ever asked for. The heartbreak we feel is accompanied by both peace and happiness. We are ecstatic that she is no longer bound and trapped inside her physical body, free from the suffering and misery she has endured. 


I will continue to update her blog as I have promised, and will make sure to post her obituary and information about funeral services. Thanks for all of your comments, love, prayers, and support over the last three years. 



(photo credit: Jane Groom)

Friday, August 21, 2015

An Update

This is Lauren, Rachel's older sister. It has become evident that the end of Rachel's miserable battle is near. As we've spent our time today holding her hand and talking about all of the mischief she's made, I picked up her computer and started to read some of the things she has written. I thought I'd share some of those in this post, and will continue to do so. Before I do that though, I want to share something that we (Rachel and I) didn't get around to in her last post.

Rachel has always loved Christmas. So much so that she began sewing her first Christmas quilt this year at the end of March. Allow me emphasize: first Christmas quilt. She went on to finish her second one in July. Rachel loves Christmas because she loves giving people gifts, and she always gives the best and most thoughtful gifts. She also always gives everyone at least one gift (usually more), even when we have drawn names. Our family, and I'm sure many of her friends are used to being put to shame every holiday. Rachel decided that our family was going to have early Christmas this year, on August 25. Just after our brother Devin returns from Alaska. Ever since this decision, she has been online shopping and pestering everyone non-stop to help her accumulate her Christmas for everyone. I would love to make a list here of presents I know she has procured for other family members, but I can't risk ruining any surprises. To describe her mountain of gifts as extravagant doesn't do it justice. Rachel has always been completely selfless, even during these last few miserable weeks.

Here is a peek at some of the things Rachel wrote that have made me laugh today:

What doesn't kill you makes you stronger is not true or poetic to me, sorry Kelly Clarkson.

When we were little we were in the Scrabble club. We weren’t in it because we liked the game of Scrabble, or even that we knew how to play it. We were in it for the sugar. But every once in a while, the only candy that was left was Atomic Fireballs. Sometimes all that life has left to throw at you is the hot and awful stuff.

I was speaking to the scouts and asked them what age they think people normally get this kind of cancer and they said 89,41, etc. I told them 6-7 year old boys before I could even think about it and got some pretty wild expressions. I guess that’s why they tell you it’s important to remember who your audience is.