“Our Girl Rachel”
On Friday, February 26, 2000, we heard the scariest words no parent should ever have to hear…
“Your child has cancer… her chance of survival is about 10%”
Rachel was only 14 months old when she was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma. The softball size tumor was in her abdomen and attached to her left adrenal gland. Little did we know, this beast had most likely been growing within her tiny body since birth!
Luckily at the time of diagnosis, Rachel qualified for a clinical trial and she quickly began the fight for her life!
The tumor was removed, follow by several rounds of chemotherapy, 50+ blood transfusions, platelet transfusions, bone marrow aspirations, and radiation. She suffered through mucositis, shingles, countless fevers, infections, and sleepless nights due to pain.
The final step in the protocol was a Stem cell transplant on August 31, 2000…Rachel started her CANCER FREE life on September 1, 2000! It is on this day every year that we celebrate her remission! Her “other birthday”, her “second chance”, her “victory” !!
Twenty years later, we still have several appointments per year, at the same hospital, with some of the same specialists that helped save her. Survivorship often comes with a price in the form of long-term medical issues due to the toxicity of the drugs received during treatment. Some of these “late effects” can include, but are certainly not limited to hearing loss, heart
issues, adrenal insufficiency, anxiety, etc.
Today, Rachel is in her 3rd year of college as a Psychology major and her goal is to be a School Guidance Counselor! We are so proud of her and we are beyond grateful to have such a bright, strong, loving, determined hero in our lives! Thanks to research and clinical trials, Rachel can live out her dream and one day council children in need!
– Stacey Windmiller, Rachel’s mom