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Remembering Rachel

Rachel Cheetam Moro died on February 6, 2012 from metastatic breast cancer. She was my friend. She was supposed to turn 42 years old on her birthday last week. She was supposed to still be a wife, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. Of course she is still these things, but not in the way she should be.

Rachel was supposed to be attending her high school reunion later this year, or at least be thinking about going. She was supposed to still be taking care of Newman, her lively little dog that she loved so much. She was supposed to still be writing her blog with that smart, witty way she had with words.

She was supposed to be doing all these things and so much more.

Rachel was supposed to simply be living her life.

But instead it was cut short, way too short.

I’ve been thinking a lot about Rachel lately.

I’ve been thinking about last August when her birthday was approaching and a few of her on-line friends and I decided to send her some birthday gifts, small trinkets really, to try to keep her spirits up a bit. You see by last August cancer’s grip was tightening up, though we didn’t realize just how much. Her world was shrinking and that was really hard for Rachel.

Rachel belonged in a “big world.”

We didn’t think it would be her last birthday, or at least I sure didn’t.

Shortly after Rachel opened up her birthday package from me, she sent me an email thanking me. In true Rachel form, she sent me the cutest picture you can image of Newman helping to open it. Since Rachel was a dog lover like me, she knew I’d get a kick out of that and I did.

That was so like Rachel, to always think of the other person.

A few days later, a hand-written thank you note arrived in the mail. I could tell it had been difficult for her to write it and, in fact, in it she apologized for her “unruly” penmanship. By last August because of her cancer’s progression, Rachel’s dominant left hand was causing her trouble, so she was forced to write with her other, less practiced hand.

I treasure that painstakingly written note and never tire of reading the words it contains. To me those carefully written words look beautifully perfect. The message they convey is even more precious.

Her note also included a gift for me, a tiny sticky notes pad, which I don’t intend to ever actually use. I’ll just keep it as a tiny treasure.

I’ll take it out from time to time, look at it, read the silly message and smile as I remember.

Sometimes I still visit Rachel’s blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, I’m not even entirely sure why. It’s comforting somehow to find it’s always still there, a piece of Rachel that remains. I like knowing it’s there, something to count on, just like Rachel. I also like knowing it’s still there because I think I know how much it meant to her.

It’s so important for Rachel’s words to live on, continuing to educate about things people might not know, but need to.

I know she taught me a thing or two.

I often wonder how and why Rachel stumbled across my blog that day, soon to be two years ago. I wonder why she decided to leave a comment when most readers do not.

I wonder if it was something I said, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t.

I wonder if it was because she liked a photo of my dogs; undoubtedly, this is more likely.

Or I wonder if it was by sheer chance; in all likelihood, this is probably the case.

In the end, I know it doesn’t matter how we came to know each other.

I know it only matters that we did.

Have you grieved for any online friends who’ve died?

What treasure(s) from a loved one do you hang on to?

Do you have a memory of them or of Rachel to share?

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Remembering Rachel


Friday 6th of February 2015

Last year we lost Barb Bristow from the BCSM group. Barb and I became very close from the first time she joined a Monday night chat. Her death really hit me hard, she and I had so much in common. The day she started home hospice I was planting my garden, I was texting with Barb as I was planting, and kind of emotional, but I wanted to give Barb something. A meteor shower was coming up. I told Barb I would think of her every time I saw a shooting star. She loved the thought. The interesting part was that I was planting columbine flowers known as Shooting Stars, beautiful red flowers. Those Shooting Stars bloomed the entire summer and every time I walked on my porch I was greeted by these beautiful Shooting Stars reminded me of dear Barb. I was talking about the meteors, but the flowers thought I meant them, and they heped me celebrate Barb's life all summer long.


Sunday 8th of February 2015

Jane, I knew Barb too and actually wrote a post about her after she died. I love your story about the columbine flowers and how they reminded you of her all summer. I miss her. It's nice somehow knowing you do too. Thank you very much for sharing about Barb.

Jan Baird Hasak

Saturday 11th of August 2012

What a great tribute to Rachel. She would love what you wrote about her and how we are keeping her memory alive.

I've lost two online lymphedema support group friends to cancer. We supported each other by encouraging weight loss to help keep the edema at bay. We tried to avoid the "C" word. But it came up to bite two of my friends. So sad.

I treasure the crafts that my dear departed Mom made, especially watercolor-painted greeting cards. Her memory will not be lost as long as I am alive and not senile.

Take good care and keep up your influential writing! xx


Sunday 12th of August 2012

Jan, I'm sorry about the loss of your two online friends. It sounds like you have some lovely memories of them. I'm glad to hear you have some treasures from you mom too. You must have inherited some of your artistic talents from her. How nice. Thanks so much for your kind words. You take care as well.


Friday 10th of August 2012

What a lovely tribute. I was thinking about Rachel today, too. For some reason, the pink truck she posted about in her "Paint the Town Pink" post flashed through my mind while I was brushing my teeth this morining. Laughing out loud almost made me choke on my Aim. I didn't know her well, but I miss her voice, her snark, her brutal honesty, I really do.


Friday 10th of August 2012

Felicia, Reading your comment made my day! Thank you!

CJ Corneliussen-James

Thursday 9th of August 2012

What a beautiful tribute to an incredible woman, who did so much to bring awareness to the MBC cause.

I am very grateful to Rachel's husband for keeping Cancer Culture Chronicles available online so that Rachel can continue to rally support for the MBC cause even after she is gone. Her words are just as powerful today as they were when they were written.

As we honor the person that Rachel she was, let's also honor the cause she so doggedly promoted by doing all that we can to spread awareness of the MBC cause and push for equity in patient support and the funding of MBC research.


Thursday 9th of August 2012

CJ, Thank you so much for your kind words about my post. More importantly, thank you for recognizing and acknowledging the wonderful work Rachel did on behalf of raising meaningful awareness about metastatic breast cancer. Like you, I am very grateful her blog is still out there continuing to educate others about a lot of issues. She certainly taught me a lot. We will keep on working toward the goals you mention. By doing so, we will honor Rachel, my mother and all those lost to this disease.


Wednesday 8th of August 2012

I really didn't know Rachel well. She posted on my blog a couple of times. Once I began reading her I was hooked.Her love for life was infectious.Why her beautiful spirit had to be taken away is anyone's guess. I go back read and wished I had known her better too. I miss Cheryl (Indigo Dreaming) .For two years every Tuesday & Thursday she'd call with her lovely Aussie accent. Get her started on something she had the gutter- mouth of a sailor, she could spit those words with the best of them...She had a soft gentle side..Things always weren't right for her, so many questions there were days she'd be so overwhelmed. The tears the laughter in the next breath. complications. Her cancer taking on an ugly side that was now visible. It was though as the cancer grew externally, it was a chronicle of her life ebbing away bit by bit. As this monster took over her body. She was always worried about me. I have so many things I wish I could type about her. As sick as she became she still called me..Talking in whispers. The Thursday before she died she called saying this was probably her last call.I didn't want it to end. That all the visiting was over, family & friends said their goodbyes.. It was now just Haydn & Cheryl. - there were some rifts in that relationship that could have brought any marriage down . But when it counted most he stepped up..Helping her caring for her and just being there.Some men just can't express or verbalize love but he showed her, she knew it and she loved him back for it. You meet some people even if a face to face opportunity wasn't there, there is a connection of the deepest kind, a kinship. Not a day passes that I don't think of her, her giddy laugh, her somber tone knowing the end was near. I couldn't have loved her more if we had known each other for 25 years. I miss her...... Love Alli....XX

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