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.

Not alone

March 11, 2009

It has been several weeks since I wrote with our news and I know many are wondering how we are doing. I am sorry that I have not written sooner. It is harder than I thought to write these notes. Last time around there was at least the rigour of treatment that made these updates an easier task.


We’ve had a wonderful and challenging few weeks as we have tried to pack in some memory making while I am still well enough. We went on a few trips away with family and friends which were a wonderful gift all around. And now, as Neil says, “we are reigning in the jetsetting” which is good and necessary.


I am essentially bedridden already. The pain in my back and constant nausea make it difficult for me to be vertical for more than a few moments of each day. I had radiation on my back in mid-February which really helped once I got over the side effects of fatigue and nausea. Then we discovered, after I lost feeling in my chin, that the cancer has spread to my skull and was encroaching on my facial nerves. There was some concern that it may affect my speech and vision but that seems to be avoidable now that we have been able to radiate it this week. My nausea is constant (due to the cancer in the liver) and particularly aggravated by the radiation but we have all the “big guns” on board and are managing to keep it under control for the most part. Pain, too, is constant but manageable.


We opted, as I mentioned we might, to decline chemo. With all the appointments and tests we’ve had even without taking chemo, it has reassured us that we have made the right decision. If I was doing radiation plus chemo – well, I might as well be living at the cancer clinic. Radiation has a much higher likelihood of benefit and I seem to be responding which is a good thing. After this week is done, I will hopefully get another break from the daily trips to the clinic. All – well, most – of the staff are amazing and very compassionate and I feel very grateful to have had such good care there – especially over these past weeks.


Last Wednesday, I spoke at a women’s event for our church. What was initially supposed to be 40-60 women at the church office turned out to be about 550+ at the River Rock Show Theatre here in Vancouver. Craaazzzy. Totally God – because, first of all, I couldn’t even imagine myself speaking to that many people much less that that many people being interested in anything I wanted to say! But come they did. And speak I did. It was a special night and I am grateful to have had the opportunity to share my heart with so many. The audio is supposed to be up sometime soon at www.churchonthewestside.com – as I know many have been asking.


We continue to be grateful for all the messages and expressions of love. Thank you. Truly.


And so life continues. In a much different way than we expected this spring. We are often sad, of course, but underpinned with a deep and abiding peace and hope. God is with us and we know and treasure His comfort keenly, these days. These days, weeks or months are often and will continue to be long and difficult. We find ourselves fumbling about trying to figure out how best to handle these circumstances that we have been given. But we are not alone.


“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:8)


And it is true: He has gone before us. We are not alone. And so we are not afraid.


Til next time and…


with love,


  1. Thank you so much for your positivity. My sister Shelley has recently been diadnosed with terminal secondary bone cancer. She is a mother of 5 children aged 25, 21, 19, 17 and 13 years old. She has a 5 week old grandaughter and one on the way due in September. We are all in a state of shock and dispair at the very thought of her dying. She is most upset at not being able to watch her children and grandchildren grow, although she says that she will watch them from heaven. Like you she has encountered trauma in her life on many ocassions, but this has definetely made her stronger. We are so very proud of her.

    I watched the recording of your speech and it was so moving. Thank you for your knowledge and experience which has made you the person you are. I am sure your family are as proud of you as we are of my sister Michelle. Sue. XXX

  2. I am utterly ashamed at how easily I rail at God for things that are so minor. God has used you to show me that He is good, and that I can so easily forget that in the daily grind. Thank you for being so transparent for the sake of others.

  3. Hello, Rachel, my Sister in the Lord,

    My precious Sister Marilyn went to be with Jesus Aug. 3, 2008. She had cancer also. It was not the cancer that took her life but the chemo and radiation. Six weeks after she started treatment she was gone. I have grieved so much, because we were very close, but what happened the week before she died, blessed my life more than anything else could have. I prayed that my sister would have a supernatural experience with the Lord during this time, because I could see she was going down, down, down. Rachel, Jesus came to her a week before she died and stayed with her the final days before she went to glory. She was able to tell us how He looked and what He said to her. All fear was gone. From that moment on she was ready to go. The peace and joy of God was all over her face until her last breath. I could tell that although my sister’s body was laying in that bed dying, her spirit was with Jesus in total contentment and love. I’ve never read in the scriptures of any place like that unless it’s what the Bible calls Paradise. I know that when her body finally died she was free to leave with Jesus. I have been a Christian all my life, but my hunger and thirst for my Saviour since this happened has grown to a place I never thought I could achieve. I know HIM personally. He is my all in all!!!! Rachel, I KNOW He will come to you just like He did my sister. Call out to Him and He will take you to that “special place” …….I KNOW He will. I will pray for Him to do the same thing for you that He did my sister. My love and prayers are with you and your family. I will see you on the other side,my precious friend!!!!!

  4. I too am so saddened and ashamed at how easily we get angry or bitter with God when things don’t go our way. Your story has affected me so deeply. I am in tears writing this..remembering when my dad died of cancer 14 yrs ago at the age of 50. I was so angry at God..
    And now after all these years, I read Rachel’s story..her letters. I’m in awe. What a testatment to a life lead fully and richly and dying days that were undoubtedly difficult but lead in a heroic way. What a legacy to leave your children…that regardless of circumstance…God is still God. Thank you for taking the time to be so open and honest and for letting your life encourage and teach us that we need to learn to trust God..regardless. If if the end result is not what we wanted.

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