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Rachel’s Story

Hi everyone, this is my website where my family and I can keep everyone updated about what's going on with me. Please take the time to read the journal and thank you to everyone for all your support and love. It means the world. 

So, my liver tumor follows my DVT (aka my blood clot in my leg) which was diagnosed after LOTS of leg pain and swelling at the end of January. I've been on blood thinners since then to break it down. That was enough in itself, but...

Then about two months later I began to have shoulder pain (Mon 3/29) that my doctor worried might point to another clot in my lungs. I went into the ER for a CT scan of my lungs (Wed 3/31). No clot was found, but a pretty big mass on my liver showed up. I went back the next day for a full abdominal CT so they could get a complete look at the tumor. Since it's so big, the signs are pointing to it being cancerous. Theres no way to tell just from a scan, but with a mass like that surgery is definitely needed to remove it.

My surgeon was going to be from the hospital at the U of M, and after talking with my doctor at SMDC, we decided we should go see him. After arriving at the hospital (Fri 4/2) and moving into my room in the pediatrics unit, we had a lot of waiting til he was done with surgery. Finally, him and the whole crew showed up. The plan was for me to have surgery and just get the whole thing out of there. Surgery came up quickly on Monday at 11am. it was only about four hours long.

Dr. Acton, my surgeon, called the tumor "angry" and says it looks to him to be cancerous. The pathology report came back on the tumor, and it is cancer. Its called hepato cellular carcinoma (hepatoma for short) and its a kind of liver cancer that adults get, so its weird that i have that kind. also, i happen to have the rare strain of it.. but that just means i have an otherwise healthy liver.

Latest Journal Update

The End and the Beginning

For those who don't know, dear sweet Rachel passed on Monday October 16 around 5 in the afternoon. Very easily. We were kinda surprised. She was so tired on that Sunday and kind of dopey. How does someone go from eating some, drinking, going to the bathroom,  conversing and then passing on in one day? I guess in the same way a big healthy green tree goes from standing tall one moment and blowing over in the wind the next. And I say, "Way to go Rachel!" Her passing was not like anything I had imagined - none of this is. She was so tired and having a hard time opening her eyes. In the last 15 minutes of her life I asked her, "What's going on Rachel? Are you getting ready to move on? Are you going to be leaving us? Are you dying?"  She had trouble getting the words out, so tired, but she said, "I'm fine". She was fine and she is so fine. I left her to sleep and went to sit on the steps and watch Ruby jump on the tramp. It was a blustery day. I know now that I saw her blow away with the pine needles that were on the tramp with Ruby as the mat of needles were going up and down as she jumped.  After a bit, she jumped, a wind came and WHOOSH!, some of them flew away. Ruby said, "Cool Mommy! Did you see that?!" "Yea, that was cool! Jump again when a gust comes and do it again!". Never did happen again. Rachel passed within 10 minutes of me being out of the room. So surprising. So amazing. So OK.

Am I so proud of Rachel? Well, that's like saying I'm proud of how the sun sparkles on the lake or proud of how the waves crash into shore...

So beautiful.

I am so amazed at how things work out. At how loving people showed up on my doorstep that wild night holding the sacred space for Rachel and me and my family. Perfect timing. Perfect loving. Perfect path.

Whew! I am doing good. We Sandells are doing good. I feel far more gratitude than sadness. So much love and support surrounding us. It is so, so good.

Thanks to all who travel with us on this path. I will share more agian, I'm sure.

A Funeral? HELL NO!! Not for Rachel - she'd be pissed! A Celebration of Life will be this Saturday, October 29 4-7 at Duluth East High School on Superior Street and 40th avenue East - we dreamed up a lovely program in her honor and we will visit, cry, laugh and eat. There is stuff on the love is on facebook page for anyone who wants to look there too.


Love to you all