Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Mom's turn

I guess you can tell from the title that this is not Rachel because it only refers to Mom and not Diane.

I am just going to share what I know and feel and then run it past Rachel, perhaps she will see the need to find the strength and take over.  From what the doctors say, Rachel is in the most difficult part of her treatment which is the delicate balance of steroids (given to treat the symptoms of the tumor) and the irradiation/chemo treatment.  Physically she is maintaining great strength and although the symptoms of her tumor seem to be increasing they are encouraged that they are not of a serious nature meaning no headaches and the fact that she is able to swallow without choking and coughing. Because of a few other things (pain in the upper spine, increased area of numbness in the left arm and face) she will be having an MRI of the spine this Thursday and hope to be able to further reduce her steroid dose.  They believe that the pain is most likely a result of the steroid and not the tumor and are hoping that the MRI will confer with their suspicions.  The pain that she was experiencing last week in her legs seems to have gone away with the first dose reduction so we are very hopeful.  I know that this can be very confusing but I also know that this is what is so overwhelming for Rachel at this time.  Many of her ups and downs can directly be related to the level of steroids in her system and seem to rival any roller coaster that she has ever been on, she is definitely experiencing great highs and extreme lows, in her words she is experiencing a little of heaven and a lot of hell.  She has seen a real side to depression that she has never understood before and  is using all of her strength and faith to combat those lows.  This is by far the most challenging thing that she has been faced with in this life and I have seen her turn to prayer on many occasions to help her through.  Not only does she know where to turn for help but she quickly acknowledges when that help comes and is quick to offer a prayer of gratitude for blessings granted.

Rachel is definitely developing compassion for others in this process.  Just today as we were at the clinic waiting for her appointment there was another girl, probably around 5 years of age struggling.  Without saying a word to us she got up and walked over to the girl, showed her her iPad to see if she would like to use it to help her through her rough moment.  She has developed a heightened sensitivity to others who are struggling and is able to reach out in a way that was once way too embarrassing to even think of doing.

I am seeing my daughter develop a great deal of compassion and charity which for me is also a mixed blessing.  No parent wants to see their children suffer in this way but then God's ways are not mans ways and we have so much to learn in this life and of His ways.  There is a reason why growing pains were given that name.  Amid the darkness that she is feeling within, she is still radiating a great light to others around her.

May I also express my gratitude for EACH of you who follow and comment from time to time. You are a real part of her healing and her strength. We know that there are many prayers in her behalf as well as for our family and THEY ARE FELT. THANK YOU.

Rachel- My mom is wonderful. She has so much strength and patience. I can't put into words how I feel. Jordyn and my Dad made it home safe tonight. What a blessing. I am so happy that they did! Anyways, I don't know how to say this. Literally most of my day is living hell. I have been to the worst places beyond imaginable, having said that, it creates frustration for me because I know it's the steroid, and I still see heaven on earth as well.

Everyday I look back at yesterday and think to myself, what was I complaining about? That was nothing. The days seem never ending, but I know things will work out in due time. Sometimes I get so angry I mentally yell at my cancer things such as "you don't know who you're messing with." Silly I know!

Anyways, I want you guys to know how much I appreciate being treated the way I have, and for everything you have done for me. I'm tired. I can do hard things. Rach. I'll post some pictures too, sorry they're out of order.

Hiding from mom and dad in the pink palace
Why not!?
The family watching me do physical therapy.
I'm afraid you're going to hate me for this, sorry Jords:)

Alvin!?

Dresses in Pink Palace





Last 10 minute rush!

31 comments:

  1. All the craziness going on, and yet look at all the smiles in the pictures. What a great family you have. Though not an easy journey you're all on, it looks like you are drawing strength from each other. Thanks again for sharing these little miracles, moments of inspiration, ups and down, and all the rest. We're praying for you all!

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  2. Rachel, Thanks for sharing your life with us. You are a great strength to everyone who reads them. You are teaching many needed lessons. Maybe you should be a teacher when you grow up. You are in my prayers and well as many others around the world. With much love, Ozeanna (I guess if you call your mom Diane I can sign it this way.)

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  3. Hi Rachel. My name's Tanja, I'm 20 years old. I live in Switzerland and found your blog through CuteGirlsHairstyles.
    I admire you for your strength and your compassion for others during this difficult time. My brother was diagnosed with brain tumor at the age of 5. He is now 19 and doing great. Also my little cousin was diagnosed with leukemia last year at the age of 2. He's now 3 and still receiving chemotherapy until next august. I know this must be hard, not just for you but for your family as well. You're all in my prayers. God is with you always. Much love, Tanja

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  4. Rachel, You are awesome. I check your blog multiple times a day to see how things are going for you. I actually leave it open and push refresh so my 11 year old daughter is also loving getting to know you. One of my most favorite pictures on your blog is the high school cross-country team. I also ran cc for Orem High and I'm sure everyone gets told of the girl who got lost in the Murray Invitational...yup that's me. I ran at least an extra 500 meters! I was in 3rd place (jv) my freshman year and when I finished my extra part I was in around 30th. The coach was not pleased to say the least. He threatened me if I didn't finish in the top 10 I'd never see varsity that year...thankfully I was able to pull of 7th place.
    Even during our hardest moments we can still smile and that's what I keep being reminded by reading your post. I love how even though you are going through such a tough time that you find good in everything. Keep smiling and keep the posts coming even if your wonderful mother needs to post the hard stuff let her do it.
    We're praying for you!
    Love, Cristi Myrup (Reid)

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  5. Hi Rachel:
    My name is Nina and I am Rori Christensen's sister in California. I want you to know that many here are praying for you, and I keep your name in the Oakland Temple. Please know that you are never alone.

    Sending love a hugs from Modesto, CA
    Nina Black

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  6. Yet another wonderful post, Thank you.

    Still praying!

    ~Samantha

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  7. Rachel, you continue to inspire and strengthen me, and total strangers. Your journey is very difficult and yes, HELL. I am so sorry that this is your trial that you must face. You are facing it with courage and faith and wisdom beyond your years. Our prayers continue for you, and for your beautiful family. I admire your beautiful mom, as well, even though she isn't going through the physical pain that you are........she feels it, because you are her child, and I am positive that every day, she wishes she could take this pain and suffering for you. You are an amazing girl with a family who loves you so very much and with friends and ward members who think of you and pray for you every single day. We love you Rachel! Love, Jake and Vickie Hill

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  8. Great post. You have such a wonderful family Rachel. You are always in our prayers,
    Mattea

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  9. Boo on the dex! Such a double edged sword... Needed but the side effects are awful. Hopefully the fabulous researchers can come up with something a little more tolerable along with that cure! Thanks for your honesty, and we hope for better days ahead. Our thoughts and prayers are with you all.
    Love, the Huish family

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  10. It was great to hear from Diane. My sister blogs a lot about symptoms, treatments, and results which were all great to read about. My nephew (the cancer patient) rarely blogs and I think that's too bad. I think you (Rachel) are doing a fantastic job sharing your true emotions. It is therapeutic for you, compassion building for us, and a strength to others dealing with cancer to know they are not alone in those emotions. My nephew's blog is www.suppportstephen.wordpress.com I don't know if you read others' blogs, but as you see daily at St. Jude's... you're not alone. Steroids are a BEAST! Puffy, pimply, painful, poopoo! I'm sorry you have to take them. I think all of us that are praying for you would like to take on a little of your pain. Maybe if we all share it, it won't be so hard for you. Love love love... The Arnoldsens

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  11. Rachel,
    Somebody in our new wars was bearing his testimony and said that he had a hellacious day on Saturday. First, can yu say that over the pulpit? Second, I guess everyone suffers through their own kind of hell. My prayers our with you.
    Love,
    Shannon swain

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  12. Rachel, you are such a beautiful daughter of God. I found this quote: "God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand his wisdom, but we simply have to trust his will." (I'm such a quote girl) I know that the Lord is with you and your family during all of this. I always enjoy reading every post, and usually end up tearing up at work. You sure are amazing girl!
    -- Kayla (goodrich)

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  13. I'm one of the cutegirlshairstyles fans. today when I saw the post on the cutegirlshairstyles blog about you I started praying for you.

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  14. God is with you through your highs and lows. Hold on to His promises. Prayers for your entire support system

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  15. Rachel and Diane,
    I laugh and cry when I read your blog. There us such honesty and introspection. We think of you often and you are in our prayers morning, noon and night with a few in between. I feel that you have inspired the daughter and mothers in our ward (and beyond) to appreciate the time they have together. We love you and your family. Deanna T.

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  16. Rachel (and Diane),
    I think about you every day and I'm sorry you are going through this. You are such a beautiful young woman and are touching so many lives. Please know we are praying for you!
    xo
    -Gina (Richman) Duncan (Marley's Auntie)

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  17. Rachel,
    Last night my (17 yo) son was telling me that he saw a freshman at (play) rehearsal yesterday, sitting alone. He said 'Tomorrow I'm going to go sit with him.' I was awestruck because 1) normally he doesn't notice things like that, 2) even if he did notice, he might not act on it, and 3) you just wrote a post about this very. same. thing. (Wow.)

    The Spirit is working through you, I have no doubt.

    Love and hugs and prayers!

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  18. Rachel
    Im soo proud of you and it has honestly made my week for what you did for that little girl with your iPad. I no I don't no you, but just from reading this and finding out how you are doing makes my day. My thoughts and prayers are with you Jordyn your dad and Diane to get throught this ruff time. finally I just wanted to let you know that ive been growing my hair out to donate with my school since 2nd grade 8 years now and in may i will finially be donating in your honor or that your the person that's inspiring me to do this if thats okay with you
    with love and prayers
    Caroline Horrigan from NH

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  19. Darling Rachel! We can't express how much we love you and your family and how often we are praying for you. Wish we could take some of the pain away from you. You are such a strong, caring and loving young woman. We know you will have the strength you need. Love, Steve and Nylen

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  20. Praying for you through these valleys and mountains you're climbing.
    Phil 4:13

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  21. You seriously are the biggest inspiration. You are able to conquer this trial better then anyone else could. I can only imagine how hard this has been. I love reading your experiences on your blog. You're so strong. Just know I'm praying for you, along with so many others.

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  22. Rachel and Diane, Hang in there. I hear if you can take the cure the cancers not so bad. I'm praying for you all the time for both of you to have strength and comfort. I think tomorrow is going to be a good day for you. Love you both. Betty O

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  23. Hi,
    I found your blog through cutegirlshairstyles and I couldn't leave without sending a message. I'm 17 too but can't even begin to understand what you are going through at the moment. You are inspiring :) hang in there, God loves you!! It looks like you have been blessed with an awesome support network and, while it probably doesn't make it any easier, knowledge that there's a better place coming after this world.
    Praying for you from Australia,

    Anna :)

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  24. I just found your blog through a fellow DIPG family, the Stuarts. Our 10 year old son, Oliver, had DIPG and fought for over 2 years. I just sat and read your entire blog. Never give up hope and continue to live each day as you are. It is definitely a roller coaster ride of emotions. I've struggled a lot through the last 2 and a half years, but ultimately I know he's still with me just in a different way. I try to tell myself that he has more to do on the other side, until we can be with him again. I will be thinking of you and checking in on how you are doing. Hugs to you...

    Love from Iowa,
    Stacy Palmer
    www.oliverpalmer.blogspot.com

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  25. Dear Rachel and Diane and family, sharing you're hearts and endurance, emotions and faith with all humanity is such a gift of the spirit to us all. It keeps us humbled and prayerful in your behalf, and to see how kind, considerate, and compassionate you are to all those around you even as you're reeling from your treatments effects is so amazingly touching to me, to us. I have to agree with the lady who posted earlier in that I wish we could take away or share this load with you Our greatest hopes and prayers will continue in your behalf, and we'll do all we can in helping you, and sharing your blog with others. Thank you and I/we love you.

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  26. Dear Brave girl... You can do this! Wishing for better things ahead for you. Happiness and prayers coming your way.

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  27. Hey Rachel, it's Angie. I just wanted to tell you, yesterday during a devotional in seminary, I told the class that my close friend was currently dealing with cancer and that she was such an inspiration to me that I too can do hard things. Our teacher Bro. Evens (he's new) asked "are you talking about Rachel Stratton?" He said that in EVERY SINGLE ONE of his classes, at least two or three people come up to the front and share amazing testimonies that have been strengthened because of you. He said that he has never seen the spirit working so strongly in such a large group of teens. You're changing the world Rach!

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    Replies
    1. Dear Rachel,

      I haven't met you, but I am the oldest daughter of Rori and Kendall Christensen - anyway, I was given your blog a little while while ago.

      ...A wise man once said that a person's life is all about three things: living, loving, and building a legacy. We all grow up learning the consequence of not having enough food or water; or being too cold or hot. Most of us learn about love through trial and error (probably more error than trial!). And eventually we grow to an understanding where we begin to create a positive influence in the world around us...something that will help others, something that can endure through others, and something that can even mend some of the bridges we may have damaged through transgressions in our past.

      When I read through your blog, I picture a person who is years ahead of your age, someone who despite personal anguish, is creating a legacy even now. Being a good example can eventually produce followers, but taking a courageous lead inspires all of us. Thank you for this.

      I wanted to write a few words and let you know that you are being heard. You are being appreciated. And undoubtedly, you are already loved and adored by many!!

      On a lighter note - because I just can't let off on a such a serious note; permit me to counter back on your post about "Things I want back and have"...this would be my list :)

      (and yes, you definitely win this one!)

      Things I want back:

      My front tooth! - funny picture...I was in an accident needless to say
      My Youth
      Normal sleep (I'm not sure I ever really had this one - but I want it)
      Healthy Knees (how I miss sports)
      Long thick eyelashes (gone are those days)
      Innocence (comes with the territory :( )
      Time with my kids that I missed when I worked late last week
      Satisfaction from eating (only) healthy foods (I must have had this at one point in my life! lol)

      Things I have:

      The most incredible family, who really loves me!
      Inspiration to keep me thankful for what I have (you belong on that list!)
      God
      Love for others
      My health
      My family's health
      Blue sky
      Flowers outside
      My dog
      Technology
      Pictures
      Memories
      The pleasure of being able to taste food (albeit sometimes this is a determent)
      The ability to imagine something
      Art
      Music
      The ability to communicate and learn

      Please know you are in my prayers and thank you for your courage and inspiration...Keep it up!!

      Love,
      Monica Cardone

      Delete
  28. Dear Rachel,

    I haven't met you, but I am the oldest daughter of Rori and Kendall Christensen - anyway, I was given your blog a little while while ago.

    ...A wise man once said that a person's life is all about three things: living, loving, and building a legacy. We all grow up learning the consequence of not having enough food or water; or being too cold or hot. Most of us learn about love through trial and error (probably more error than trial!). And eventually we grow to an understanding where we begin to create a positive influence in the world around us...something that will help others, something that can endure through others, and something that can even mend some of the bridges we may have damaged through transgressions in our past.

    When I read through your blog, I picture a person who is years ahead of your age, someone who despite personal anguish, is creating a legacy even now. Being a good example can eventually produce followers, but taking a courageous lead inspires all of us. Thank you for this.

    I wanted to write a few words and let you know that you are being heard. You are being appreciated. And undoubtedly, you are already loved and adored by many!!

    On a lighter note - because I just can't let off on a such a serious note; permit me to counter back on your post about "Things I want back and have"...this would be my list :)

    (and yes, you definitely win this one!)

    Things I want back:

    My front tooth! - funny picture...I was in an accident needless to say
    My Youth
    Normal sleep (I'm not sure I ever really had this one - but I want it)
    Healthy Knees (how I miss sports)
    Long thick eyelashes (gone are those days)
    Innocence (comes with the territory :( )
    Time with my kids that I missed when I worked late last week
    Satisfaction from eating (only) healthy foods (I must have had this at one point in my life! lol)

    Things I have:

    The most incredible family, who really loves me!
    Inspiration to keep me thankful for what I have (you belong on that list!)
    God
    Love for others
    My health
    My family's health
    Blue sky
    Flowers outside
    My dog
    Technology
    Pictures
    Memories
    The pleasure of being able to taste food (albeit sometimes this is a determent)
    The ability to imagine something
    Art
    Music
    The ability to communicate and learn

    Please know you are in my prayers and thank you for your courage and inspiration...Keep it up!!

    Love,
    Monica Cardone

    ReplyDelete
  29. Hey Rachael, I'm sorry things are tough for you right now. But, you know... you are ONE BRAVE girl! :) Thanks again for sharing your post. Lovely to meet your sister and dad through Blogland. Know that I am praying for you all the way from Hawaii. We've never met... I found your blog through Cute Girl HairStyles on You Tube! Ever since I visited your site a few weeks back I've been praying for you. So odd, because I don't normally comment on blogs... just hop from one to another for encouragement, inspiration and even laughs. Your blog however I read and in turn takes me to praying for you and your circumstances. Oh and... I love smoothies too! ;)

    ReplyDelete