Wednesday, August 26, 2015


(photo credit: Jane Groom)

Rachel Elyse Stratton

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 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.

Monday, August 17, 2015


I feel horrible. I look forward to my nightly walk with my dad. I'm still coherent but my body is really slow. I sit in my chair mostly and think about random people from my past, and who is feeding me my next meal.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Now I know why old people are so grumpy. I feel horrible.  

          I got my hair cut. That's the most excitement that I've had in days.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

It took a lot of courage to post a picture a couple of days ago. I was really grateful for all the kind words I received. Life is so hard to live right now. I keep thinking "I better have lots of blessings waiting;)."
I joke about exercise being disgusting, but in all reality that's what I hope for. I just want to run again.

My mom talks about the sun a lot and how it's going to rise and how we take for granted God watching over us. How annoying to have to make the sun go around over and over.
People think running on the track makes them dizzy. But how true. We are  watcöhed over and most of the time I know I take it for granted. I know i need to realize who gives me life.

I make "ugh I have to do everything for you" comment. I'm like a toddler though. My mom literally puts food in  my  mouth  for  me.

Somebody that had once been fighting a less severe battle her whole life asked me " oh. So you haven't been fighting for very long?" I was so upset because I feel like it's been a long time. Time seems to drag on forever. I am so glad that time doesn't exist in heaven it gets me through hard times down here.

My life is really hard but it helps when I look at showering and getting dressed as a service for other people. Ha ha. 


Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I have come to the conclusion that hope is what we want it and make it to be. I can't talk, walk and everything between but I can still hope. It's pretty embarrassing being 20 and having some people look at me different like I'm 2. The funny thing is when people think I know something but I took 20 years to find out Genovia isn't a real country.Do you really think I know the secret of life?

"I thought a lot today about things inside but I couldn't tell anyone." I wrote, well I have the people around me write in 2 journals each night. That's what I had written for yesterday. It's true I think a lot-normally but I cant say it. It stinks.

I don't really do anything besides eat and sleep but visitors exhaust me, so I'll update everybody this way.
I'm not doing well but I have a lot of peace. That's what counts I guess.
So I'm still hanging in there. Barely but surely. And I'll keep hanging until I can sew (with energy) again.

Much love

And a big thanks for your love, prayers and kind words--


Sunday, July 12, 2015


I’m still keepin’ on. It stinks cause I am still am fully coherent but I have a hard time talking and basically everything I do is hard for me.  My mom made me walk back and forth along the banister  3 times and I got exhausted.  This trial has made me really wonder if God is real, I can’t say for everyone but I believe strongly in God.  My alternative doctor talks about hope and the world’s view of it.  I will always have heavenly hope.


Tuesday, July 7, 2015


I'm still hangin in there!
It's super hard but I know it will be worth it.
I'm pretty grumpy most days I get through it by eating Simply Cheetos White Cheddar (no preservatives so I guess they are healthier) and telling people my mom hits me. Her reaction is pretty funny and it's energizing so I keep saying it.
Other than that I order stuff online,that's pretty much all I do- seriously.
I feel pretty worthless (because I can't help out at home) and ugly because the right side of my face is numb and so my smile looks pretty weird. My right eye doesn't close anymore so my eye is bloodshot and I can hardly see out of it.  My tongue is numb so it makes it hard for me to talk and for others to understand me.  I am deaf in my right ear and that makes hearing hard. Blowing my nose is hard because it hurts my head and so I am stuffed up most of the time. I could go on but you get the idea and I hate it. Oh well I guess though! I'll just keep telling people my mom hits me.


ps- I hate pictures so I probably won't post any.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

I'm hanging in there. I told Diane and Jordyn that I don't know the pain of having a baby but that i would well prefer it over these headaches.

Besides that I'm working on another Christmas quilt. I'm feeling stronger than a couple weeks ago. Not strong enough to run a 5k by myself. But I can still sit up by myself.-ish..

It's ridiculous how hard it is to eat. No joke it takes me hours to eat a meal. I'm also working with my sister Lauren on an etsy shop! It's fun and gives me something to focus on!! 

You can find my new Etsy shop in my blog sidebar, or by clicking this link... ShopBramble.

I feel like someone said wait here I'll be right back. And I'm continually waiting for whoever to show up but it's been so long i don't know that they're ever going. It helps that I am constantly reminded of my strength. But I can't help but wonder regardless where they are.

okay-thats the best update i am currently capable of giving 
(typing this finger by finger)


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Pain Pain Go Away

I'm still fighting aka I am still breathing. You wouldn't believe how hard it can be. Right now the worst thing I'm dealing with are mini migraines- I honestly feel horrible but I'm taking all this in and enjoying it the best that I can.

In the mornings I wake up and spend a couple hours in bed getting my bearings. I'm trying to also eat a lot of good food so I can keep my weight up and stable. Then I usually shower than sit in bed and let ideas collect in my head and try to accomplish them at night.

I am trying to make the best out of these long days and it is not easy but I am successful. I have realized that nobody gets it easy but when I lay down at night I do not feel defeated and I think that's because of the attitude that I have been blessed with.

It's still hard to focus and type this but I am doing it piece by piece in my phone and trying my best. I would say don't judge, but that seems childish.


My great buddy!

Hi! Selfie from the car! Oh! I made that shirt I'm wearing last year!

My attempt to water color

My sister Lauren taught me how to screen print, I cut out the fabric and I am not sewing wonderfully so Diane did that. The mask was still my brain child!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Pray Away

Feel free to pray for me, I am not doing well. I have felt terrible for about the last week, and things seem to keep persisting.
I can hardly type because I am so weak, so this can't be too much longer, I just wanted to quickly post some things I believe.

I believe in God and I believe he loves me even when I can't tell that he does.

I believe God is listening even when I can't tell that he is.

I believe I am being comforted even when I can't sense anyone or thing there.

I believe my life is full of tender mercies even when I don't see his hand in my life.

I believe in tomorrow, even when today was hard to live.

I can do hard things

Sunday, May 24, 2015


I feel like I am on a constant and never ending loop. I feel like nothing will ever be “over” even if we sometimes want it to be. My life is like a crappy TV show (because there’s a sudden obsession with the life of a cancer patient). Really high high’s and really low low’s- and during the whole thing it’s all uncomfortable and dramatic.

Sometimes I get upset with where I am because it is so visibly underwhelming- I guess I sometimes let that get to me. In the beginning I was like “I don’t need any kind of recognition to feel accomplished” when the real truth is, even if it’s an affirming sentiment relayed by Diane, I am better off when I am told I am doing good, or I am making my family proud, etc. I am not currently trying to seek something out, I am just typing something I’ve found out about myself.

I keep getting these mini migraines- so I am not really up to the task of writing but I wanted to at least record that I’m still alive! (Hooray.) But I started going to BYU! Me- a college student! (Before you clap- I’m enrolled in one class) and I’m still working. For the last few weeks- my family has heard very few things come out of my mouth besides my “need for a massage chair”. Retail therapy exists.

It’s been such a long “in between” stage. I’m pretty ready for something new- I think!


{taken by: itty bitty beautiful maria corona}

Saturday, March 21, 2015


My sister Heather is the most competitive person you can probably ever encounter. It's sort of hysterical, and it makes you love her so much more than you already do. Along with her competing spirit comes motivation. She has motivated me to start {really} running again. 

So that's what I did today!
And I think I died.
Look at me go! I ran 2 laps, and walked to laps.

So I'm going to be able to run a 90 second 400 meter by July, I'm so motivated! We're also planning on running the 4th of July 5k, which would have been a partial Saturday run in early 2012. Now, it's a monumental achievement I'm hoping to attain.
Heather is going to be my coach! I don't think she knew what she was getting into until this morning, but that's her fault, right? I'm super motivated. We'll see how long it lasts. Hopefully at least until July, 4th right?

It's been really busy lately, and my health has kept up with my activities, and I still don't have any sort of symptoms from dumb brain cancer. I am deathly tired from the run this morning, but other than that am feeling amazing!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

Things I Forgot

So first off, I made it to the appointment about my memory which coincidentally I don't know if I wrote about in the last post or not. But he further confirmed our suspicions about my impaired memory and will hopefully get me on the right track to getting healthy again. Apparently the worst thing I could be doing right now is online school. So in the fall I am going to try and get back into {real} school. FINALLY, (and I'm really looking forward to it).

So a couple things I forgot to say:

We went to NYC in November. Me, my twin Jordyn, Chad and Diane. It was the funnest thing ever, and I had so much energy the whole time. I'd say I had the most energy out of the whole group but Diane might have topped me. I spent some good time in Fabric stores, and really enjoyed Les Mis and Phantom of the Opera with Jordyn. It was fun walking around the city just me and her, it was like we were old or something wild.

I got a beautiful new sewing machine that's 100% my own and I feel very lucky. I love sewing by the way. My mom's been teaching me since I was really young and I am super glad that it's something I know how to do well now!

I started wearing contacts!!

My brother does a Christmas tree bonfire every year and they had over 200 trees this year and it was awesome! I wasn't even overly tired this year!

I spoke to a bunch of scouts the other day about the power of a positive attitude and their responses to some of my questions were hilarious. I don't remember most of them but my favorite part was how innocent they were.

Anyways, I'm suddenly drawing a blank on what I've done for the past few months, so either I've wasted a lot of time or have a little more work to do on getting that radiation impaired memory back.
{I can do hard things.}

 Enjoy this picture of me closing my eyes, almost:


Thursday, January 15, 2015


I apologize for not having written in such a long time. But--- I AM ALIVE! It's sort of incredible how big the miracle I was just delivered is. I always believed in miracles and hoped for miracles- especially for my healing- but I didn't know how much faith I lacked until I received my miracle. I am alive, and I feel horrible for saying it especially around others that I've met during this experience, but I found it necessary and healthy to be able to say those things without feeling a tremendous surge of guilt.

So right now my trial is figuring out how to live a normal life again. I was at primary children's 2 days ago and they are all still so blown away with how well I am doing. Nobody really understands what's going on. I think my doctor puts it best when she says "well... I do believe in miracles," I guess that would mean I'd be an idiot if I didn't.

The only thing that I am currently struggling with is some after affects of Radiation. I have a hard time with memorization and recalling things off the top of my head, (especially names, so please forgive me)! I am seeing a psychologist next Tuesday about trying to fix those areas of my brain with some long test, and it's honestly sort of terrifying. When he said there would be an IQ exam my heart kind of sunk. He then went on to ask me my ACT score- let's just say I am definitely not a test taker but reassured me that his score was even lower than mine, so I feel like this will be a good, non-condescending visit.

I say non-condescending because a few weeks ago I went to see a counselor at UVU to try and help get me back into an actual school setting, (right now I am doing online BYU classes and it's been horribly hard for me), I have a much better time with an actual teacher who is actually willing to help answer questions, (even though I do have a teacher currently who has been incredible). Back to the counselor thing- he was extremely condescending. "Well you let your application to the school expire so there's another road block you have" and "You're going to need to do the math accuplacer test, and not the english one, but honestly I'm putting a block on your account so you will need to take both because you've probably lost a lot of knowledge in the last 2 years that you've basically wasted."

Okay maybe that was a bit dramatic, but not much. He was awful and horrible and told me how many roadblocks I have in my way simply because I chose to wait. Well excuse me for surviving the worst kind of brain tumor you can be diagnosed with. But I'm not going to let it get in my way. I 'm going to try for fall. I am hoping to be able to have full learning abilities, because going from getting [almost] pure A's, to failing classes takes a blow on me mentally.

Whenever I get anxious, my lip goes numb. If you remember right, my lips were numb when the cancer was back and bad. I've realized in my life that God wants me to be at peace and he doesn't want us to get stressed out and anxious. So now I'm taking this as a little sign-- a "Rachel, quit being dumb" kind of a sing.

Honestly if I could erase one thing from this cancer journey and still have my miracle- I wouldn't. Everything not only played a key aspect in my healing but in my emotional, physical and spiritual growth. You go from being a State-athlete to three months later not being able to do a push up. So much was literally stripped from my body- but I have received so much in return.

So now with my life I am:
Trying to finish some online classes
Sewing a lot (Diane bought me a brand new sewing machine and it is beautiful)
Writing in journals

and whatever else I feel like.

I am trying my hardest to find my way back into a normal 19 year old's life, and I'm not going to lie and say it's been easy. It's been a real challenge. But I am hoping to start writing more and keeping y'all updated with what's going on and how I am healing in this journey that I have taken on.

I can do hard things!


In the following pictures- please examine the regular size of my face, lack of acne and oh, an engaged girl! MY TWIN IS ENGAGED, and I'm so excited for her and also a little bitter, but mostly excited!!!

 It feels weird to be in the hospital because I only have to get a checkup once every three months now!!! AHHHHH!