University of Minnesota Cancer Center: I Remember Rachel

Today, is the day that I see the doctors at the University of Minnesota for a stem cell transplant to treat my multiple myeloma – a bone marrow cancer. I remember very well my last visit to the University of Minnesota. The last time I entered that building was over two decades ago a with a 10 year old little girl who was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer on my back who needed her radiation treatment.

However, that day she was a magical princess and I was her sturdy steed. Her name was Rachel, we shared the same birthday and we galloped all over that place together.

Only the month before she had been a healthy radiant little girl who just loved school. Then one morning she woke up with her eyes crossed. It was quickly determined that she had a very aggressive form of brain cancer and her prognosis involved weeks without radiation, maybe a couple of months with radiation.

I was a friend of Rachel’s aunt and that aunt had called me so that I could pray for Rachel and her family. I did. Then, she called me and asked if I could help drive Rachel to her treatment, I did. Then, I got another call and another request from the family. They wanted explain heaven to Rachel and how beautiful it was there. They asked that I paint a picture of Rachel with Christ in heaven to hang in her room at home during her hospice care. I did.

I painted Rachel in her favorite color—pink. I painted her sitting right on the lap of Jesus in a beautiful flower garden on a lovely summer day. I painted them both smiling and Rachel is waving back at us.

I had the privilege to visit Rachel right before she died. I got to hold her, hug and kiss her and read her stories. The cancer may have robbed her of her motor skills and ability to speak, but she could still laugh. We laughed together.

At her funeral, my painting was on an easel right next to Rachel. She was wearing the pink dress.

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