During the bouts of cancer diagnosis and treatments, Rachel writes e-mails to keep her friends and family updated on her thoughts and spiritual walk.

My To Do List

June 1, 2009

I’m a big list person. I love lists. Making them. Crossing things off when I’m finished them. I have a daybook that sits by my telephone that holds my To Do list for each day and one of my greatest pleasures is looking back at the end of the day and seeing all my little check boxes filled in. Sigh…happiness. I’m so easily amused. Crazy, I know. But there it is. It’s who I am.


But my To Do list has taken a back seat of late. It’s been four months since Neil and I sat stunned on that hospital bed after receiving the news we didn’t want to hear. Four months since the whirlwind of waiting to die began. And – surprise, surprise – the waiting is not easy for me.


Lying in bed waiting for my next dose of medications (14 different ones, in case you’re interested). Or waiting for Neil to come home from some activity with the kids. Or waiting for the day to end so I can fall asleep and maybe forget for awhile. Not easy. I’m a doer. I like to do things. Hence the To Do list obsession.


It seems that all I do is wait and write silly things like “Shower” on my To Do list. But today, “Send Update” made it on to my To Do list not because there is much to tell but mostly so I could actually do something. So by way of update, here we go:


First off, I look pregnant. My liver has swollen so much that I am perilously close to switching teams from the In-nies to the Out-ties. I’ve had to become creative with my wardrobe as I’m sure that one of these days some well meaning person is going to ask me when I’m due. Seriously. Fashion issues on top of terminal cancer?!? There must be a limit to what one girl is expected to endure… 😉


And, after a few weeks of feeling like I’d plateaud a bit (i.e. a few less bad days, a few more predictable days), I feel like I’ve turned a bit of a corner again. I’ve been struggling with dizziness, difficulty breathing and more pain in my head. It also seems to be affecting my eyesight now too as I often have trouble focusing. I have had to up my pain meds significantly to deal with the pain in my shoulders, sternum and abdomen. The meds I’m on have been very effective but it does feel like things are continuing to progress. “Does it feel like you’re dying?,” some have asked. The answer is yes.


And I am finding that my greatest challenge and what occupies my thoughts most these days is how to finish well. All the little things that I battle daily seem to loom larger in the waiting of each day and moment as my impatience and selfish tendencies rush to the forefront of every thought and activity.


So my challenge is to finish well. And it seems I am to do this by waiting. Appropriately, I found this verse in Lamentations:


“It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”


Waiting. Quietly. It is a good thing apparently.


I have added it to my To Do list…


with love,


  1. I don’t know why I continue to come back here over two months after Rachel has died. I think seeing her face and remembering her words gives me a tangible reminder of how to live this life well…how to not waste it. Not to waste a day. Not to waste each day. and therefore, not to waste a life. What a sweet legacy…God only knows the ripple effect she has had…the ripple effect she will continue to have…eternally, without end. Quinn and Kate and Neil, I can only imagine the thousands of people joining together in prayer on your behalf.
    May you experience the abundance of His sustaining grace through the prayers of His saints.

  2. Rachel continues to minister and will continue to for a long time. I just heard her story today and read many of her posts. She inspires me to draw closer to our Father, thank you. May God continue to give her loved ones strength and courage as they face their tomorrows.

  3. Neil, Quinn and Katie: who are these people I continue to find placed upon my heart to pray for? that live half way around the globe and in a place where I have never been? who’s eyes I have never met with mine and yet mine weep for them?
    They are precious to Jesus; they have not been forgotten by Him;
    Cling to Him.

    With love your sister in Christ.
    Rachel mentioned lists – you are on mine. never to be taken off! God Bless x.

  4. God will make beauty out of our pain – He does and will. 13 years ago my sister died of breast cancer (at age 36) leaving a 3 and 6 year old behind, so similar to Rachel’s story….9 years later my other sister too succumbed to this awful disease at the age of 45 leaving two teenage children behind. It is never easy to understand WHY – we can’t wrap our minds around it, but God WILL make good out EVERY bad situation. At my sisters funeral the pastor compared our life to a chocolate cake. God was like the baker, our lives are the ingredients, and the “cake” was the “big picture”. When you are making a cake you need many ingredients; some taste great, but others don’t at all – in fact some ingredients are downright nasty. God takes it all, the delicious, the sour, the bitter, and the bad and together he creates a masterpiece, a delicious “cake”. We sometimes get stuck at the individual ingredients because we are only human and can’t see the “cake” at the end, BUT if we could…it WOULD be all worth it! It just would be! I know I am looking forward to “tasting” the “cake” one day…
    Thank you for creating this website with the ability to share with others. I found it incredibly uplifting to listen to, and one day look forward to meeting her!

  5. “It is good to wait patiently for the salvation of the Lord”. For He never fails, even in our darkest moments, He is always there.
    Thank You, Lord God of heaven and earth for the powerful testimony of Your daughter Rachel. You are a good and faithful God, and You never change. Through the ages, You are looking for men and women who will lay down their lives to reflect Your glory.
    I am challenged to look afresh to You once again in the middle of my trials, and to wait patiently for Your salvation, knowing that at the end of the ages, I will see Your beautiful face!
    Bless Neil, Quinn, Kate, Ben, Cathy, David and Andrea with Your peace. Continue to comfort them with Your love and the hope of being reunited with Rachel in Your courts of glory someday.
    Help me to continue to pray for them, as You have laid them on my heart. All the glory belongs to You, Righteous One.

  6. Neil, Quinn, Ben, Cathy, David, and Andrea,

    First and foremost, I am so sorry for your loss. Even though it has been a small bit of time, it never makes it any easier. It just seems like a blip on the radar, that Rachel should still be here.

    I wanted to share with you Rachel’s impact. I am not sure whether or not you had heard about how far God is using her testimony. Anyways, I am college student currently in a mini-mester doing an intense study on the book of James. Our professor let us out a whole half a day early (we are in class from 8 am – 5 pm for a week) with a sheet of paper with a bunch of questions on it and we were all stumped, but we got really excited, because he never shares something that isn’t really amazing and worth passing along to everyone. He told us to go home and watch this hour long testimony. He knew a lot of students were going through a lot of pain, so I believe He specifically made this “assignment” for our class. What an honor it was to do it too.

    My point in all of this is, Rachel’s testimony is not only reaching Canada, but it is reaching the states and the world. There are people who have heard her story before I ever had. It is amazing and incredible the work that God did through her and continues to do through you guys.

    Honestly, I don’t claim to be a theologian of the bible, I have very little God-given wisdom, but I have been called to share his word, and I know he will somehow use me. But what I do know is simple, it is not the trials we face but how we face them that counts. Rachel and your family faced it in faith. How awesome and inspiring.


  7. Rachel,
    I never met you but I love you as a sister in christ. Your testimony has forever changed me. The Lord started a work in me long ago and now through seeing this, I have grown in Him!! Thank you!

  8. Dear friends & family of Rachel,

    I had told my friend earlier today that I needed to watch a speech for my college speech class. She gave this website to me and told me to watch the video. Wow is all I can say. It really made me think about so much. My aunt died of ovarian cancer around 4 years ago. Rachel reminded me so much of my aunt. They were both so strong, true, and funny! 🙂

    I will pray for you and am excited to share this website with others.

    Thank you!

  9. To whoever may read this,
    I was lucky enough to see the video of Rachel, and cannot fully comprehend yet the profound energy and hope that she (through God) has given me. Right at a time when I needed confirmation, there was this beautiful woman, still giving encouragement from her seat in heaven. I am humbled and amazed to have shared in her story and wanted her family and friends to know that she still lives on. She is absolutely right!!! Death is not dying. She has made such an impact on me, that she is definitely still living.

  10. Clearly, Rachel’s testimony will continue to impact the world for years beyond her death. I am humbled and ashamed at how I’ve wasted my time on this earth — with my family and friends — by complaining, wasting my talents and not being a better testimony to those around me. I especially was touched by what she said about how many times she used to say no because saying yes would inconvenience her. That’s been so, so true of me. I think most of us do not realize the amazing gift that LIFE itself is. I am a changed person by watching Rachel’s video, as I’m sure many, many others are, as well.

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