It was December 2006, when I got into the car accident that not only saved me, but changed my life in a HUGE way!
I had no idea how sick I really was. The welt sized deep purple bruising and headaches, told a story that I didn't know about just yet. It was 2 days after that life saving car accident, when I went to the county hospital to get checked out. The initial diagnosis wasn't given for another few days, but when it was, it was devastating.
The reality was, I didn't know what Leukemia was and thought it was Lyme disease related. I was 26 and had only heard of feline leukemia. But the doctor straightened me out.... "It's cancer, blood cancer." All I knew about cancer up until then was that it was deadly and killed my dad. So, I cried...I didn't want to die and at that moment, I chose all I knew I had to do was Fight!
That's how it all started, with an accident, followed by a diagnosis and then a long ambulance ride to the City of Hope (COH), where they told my mom I had 85% cancer cells, a 10% chance of survival and little to no hope. That ambulance ride, was scary for my mom as she drove to meet me at the COH, because she was told I might crash in the ambulance on the ride there. But that wasn't what I was thinking, instead I flirted with the bald man in the back of the ambulance and had the driver blasting KROQ and singing. When we arrived at COH, we came out laughing. And my mother said "Go figure, Rachel was dying and she comes out of an ambulance laughing!"
I went through far more treatments including a drug induced coma, re-learning to walk, read and write, more chemotherapy, a relapse, brain surgery, a stem cell transplant and radiation.
What I found throughout my cancer experience was that I had a "New Normal," life would never be as it "was" and I had to learn how to face it all and ultimately change my life. Not being able to return to work, being deemed disabled, I stopped at nothing to find my "New Normal," my new life.
That brings us to UCAAN and the start of it. I had met so many people throughout my journey, patients that constantly struggled for support. I had participated in charity events for numerous organizations and wanted to be part of something more, something that would have a lasting impact. Through my trials and tribulations and experience as a motivational speaker and volunteer for those causes I started UCAAN, to create an organization For Cancer Patients, one that focused on ALL aspects and finds solutions for patients in need.
At UCAAN, We help anyone with any form of cancer, any age, nationwide.