Rachel is a 29 year old Neonatal Intensive Care Sister who I have had the privilege of working with for the last 7years. About 18months ago Rachel discovered a mole on her leg, she was diagnosed with stage 3 melanoma and here begins her journey living with Cancer through Covid. Rachel is more than a person with Cancer, she’s beautiful, kind, caring, funny, really bloody clever, and is full of potential. Rachel is a nurse, a daughter, a fiancé, a sister, a friend, a singer and all round amazing person.
Rachel has been dealt some huge blows
throughout her journey including, her initial
diagnosis, going into anaphylactic shock during one of her day case surgeries and ending up on critical care. Rachel also had surgery to remove her appendix and endured having to shield from covid while undergoing immunotherapy treatment. Rachel even manage to pull her central line out and had it replaced multiple times which is no fun experience!
Then everything was brighter the light was beginning to shine on the end of the tunnel and boom the biggest blow of all, as she was nearing the end of her immunotherapy Rachel had a CT scan which showed a 3cm mass in her chest. There was a plan to performa biopsy and make a plan of what to do next. 4 weeks after finding the mass a biopsy was done and 2 weeks later the news that the mass was cancerous. Rachel then had to wait another 2 weeks before seeing her consultant and getting her new treatment plan. By this time Rachel was having significant back pain. The mass had grown and was now double the size at 6cm and was complicated weaving around major vessels in her chest, they can’t perform surgery so the plan was for intense immunotherapy. Rachel was now classed has having stage 4 melanoma.
Then came the worst news imaginable, following an MRI to track the progress of the cancer they identified it has spread. It has infiltrated her spine, fracturing one of her vertebrae and causing traumatic damage to her spine. The cancer is also in her ribs.
So where now..... the plan, Rachel got engaged to her super Gav on New Years Day and she wants to get married. We want to help her do this. Rachel will be having Radiotherapy to attack this awful disease and at the moment no one knows what the future holds. Right now we need to focus on what we can do to help Rachel do what she wants to do then go from there taking it one day at a time xx
Please take the time to read Rachel’s take on her experience living with cancer taken mainly from Facebook. I hope she inspires you to see the positives as she does me
August 24th 2019
This week I had an operation as part of my fight against melanoma. It should of been a day case operation however I ended up having an anaphylactic reaction during the surgery and needed to go to critical care. Finally I've been allowed home today but I just want to thank everyone that knew for all the kind words and support, especially Gav Turner for being an absolute rock and being there for me through it all, I love you ❤ xxx
October 19th 2019
We’ve come to Edinburgh this weekend to celebrate our 3 years together however that’s not the only reason to celebrate... this week I got my CT results and it’s good news! It was all clear. It’s not quite the end of the journey yet as I still need to have treatment for a year (to try and prevent it from coming back) but I definitely feel like I’m finally on my way out of this!
October 28th 2019
Back to work tomorrow after what seems like forever off. Mixed emotions but looking forward to getting back to doing what I love
November 13th 2019
1 out of 9.
And because I have shy veins my next 8 will be given by a PICC line, which I will have in my arm for the next year.
Fingers crossed this stuff does what its meant to!
December 23rd 2019
February 4th 2020
So today is World Cancer Day and this time last year I wouldn’t of batted an eyelid, I was fortunate enough to not have anyone close to me be affected by cancer... and it’s true... you don’t expect it to happen to you... but why not me?!
In May I noticed a mole had changed and within 5 weeks it was removed. 2 weeks later I received the diagnosis of Melanoma and told I would need further surgery to take away more skin and test my lymph nodes. Following the surgery in August, they were able to stage me at stage 3c because it had got to one of my lymph nodes, which was shit but at least it was caught before it spread further afield to my organs. In November they started me on a year course of immunotherapy which takes the brakes off my own immune system to help fight any remaining cells which should prevent it from coming back!
I don’t fit the obvious criteria for skin cancer, I’m not the most fair skinned, blonde/ginger hair with lots of freckles who are most at risk. Yes I have enjoyed the sun in my life and before I went to Mexico last year I went on the sunbeds maybe 4 times. (Now my melanoma was in my groin so they’re not convinced it was caused by the sun and this is the case in about 10% of melanomas) but because of my diagnosis I am at an increased risk for further melanomas.
By writing this my intention isn’t for sympathy, this is the hand that I’ve been dealt, it is what it is...like I said why not me?! And fingers crossed it won’t come back. But I just want to raise awareness to look after your biggest organ you have. It’s not “just skin cancer”, it doesn’t just stay on your skin, it spreads like any other cancer and just as aggressively. If you notice a mole change in any way... get it checked by a GP, don’t put it off and see if it settles or changes back. By the time you get another appointment it could of spread further.
February 17th 2020
Pre picc lunch. I’ll try my best to keep this one in this time ♀️
March 3rd 2020
A lot of people have asked me how did I know to get my mole checked, these cards tell you what to look out for. Not every bad mole will have all of the signs so even if you tick one of the boxes you should get it checked.
March 19th 2020
If I’ve learnt anything this last year, it’s that you don’t know how strong you are until it’s the only option.
March 23rd 2020
I love my job and have mixed emotions of guilt and heartbreak but as of this week I will be “shielding” due to my treatment. I have to think of the big picture and if I become unwell I’d just be another burden on the NHS. This means that I will be spending most of my time at home with very minimal contact with anyone else. It’s going to be hard and my cats are going to be so fed up of me but it’s for the best and I have my amazing Gav Turner to keep my smiling xx stay safe everyone xx
March 26th 2020
Well that was a bit emotional! So nice to to see so many people out and clapping a real feel of community I’m so proud to be part of the NHS and so so grateful for it xx
April 1st 2020
Got a couple of hours release from home and doing this on my own for the first time but all the staff are so friendly and supportive. Im lucky for my treatment to be going ahead, I’ve heard tale a lot of people having theirs delayed or even completely cancelled due to corona virus.
April 11th 2020
Some people can really pull off a sun hat... safe to say that’s not me #melanomasucks #spf50
April 24th 2020
As someone who loved soaking up the sun I get the appeal but I also have a scar similar size to that and surgery is the first treatment for melanoma.
The advice I’ve been given since being diagnosed with melanoma is exactly the same as we should all be following anyway! Avoid the midday sun (11-2) wear at least factor 30 and cover up where you can. Just stay safe as best you can I wouldn’t want anyone to develop skin cancer when it’s so preventable.
May 11th 2020
Fun fun fun
May 13th 2020
Due to shielding it’s exciting enough being out of the house anyway but then I’ve been lucky enough to bump into Jane Patel and Joseph Andrew!
Treatment 5 of 9
May 21st 2020
Today’s burn can lead to tomorrow’s skin cancer. 2 beautiful angels that I know (in their 20’s) have lost their lives to melanoma in the past few days!
Don’t become a statistic! Look after your skin! It’s your largest organ!
May 22nd 2020
May 30th 2020
June 15th 2020
Not normally one for sharing these but I like this one.
June 18th 2020
I am getting so frustrated by this government and their daily “updates”. Shielders were promised an update this week and they’re taking their bloody time about it, today the health secretary said the update will be “very soon” (that’s the answer you give to a child when you don’t actually know or you don’t want them to know) however... if we’re expected to go back to work and return to normality at the end of June it doesn’t give us much time to adjust or make plans to be able to do that without risking our health.
I know everyone has been affected by this and I know this sounds like a pity party, I’m just so fed up of having my life taken out of my hands and what seems to be put in the hands of blumbering idiots who can’t answer a question directly and who give us the answers they want us to hear rather than the actual truth. Both Scotland and Wales have had their shielding updates within the last few weeks and yet here we stand none the wiser.
June 20th 2020
Such a tragedy.
The first dr I saw didn’t do anything either and I waited a further month before seeing another who luckily took it seriously.
June 22nd 2020
Finally got our update
From 6th July I can venture out a bit more and meet up with groups of up to 6 outdoors and from the 1st August I can go back to work! Between cancer and covid I feel like I’ve barely been there this last year and it’s so frustrating, I’m officially on countdown for going back
June 24th 2020
I remember in the. 6
July 23rd 2020
Thing is I could share these things all day but most people won’t pay attention because you don’t think it will be you. Neither did I ♀️
Do you protect yourself every time you go out in the sun? Don’t take the risk, always cover up, wear sun screen or stay in the shade.
www.melanomauk.org.uk #melanoma #awareness #skincancer #bansunbeds #itsnotjustskincancer #GetUndertheskin #sunscreen #MakeSkinChecksMonthly
July 28th 2020
So it appears I’m trying to collect scars like Pokemon and will be having my appendix removed today .
Been in hospital since Sunday with abdo pain so glad to have answers and a solution but I mean come on!
You couldn’t make this sh*t up ♀️
July 29th 2020
I’m home without my appendix, good riddance you useless organ.
Cannot praise the staff at Blackpool vic enough! Everyone I came into contact with were so friendly and professional.
I think I might have to try and cut down my usage of the nhs though, they might start billing me ♀️
August 4th 2020
I’ve had a lovely little gift come through the post today but have no idea who it’s off! I feel absolutely rubbish today but this has made me smile so thank you mystery friend xx
**found the culprit.... little miss Fleming, you beaut xx
August 24th 2020
It’s been a funny old year hasn’t it.
6 doses of immunotherapy
6 new scars
5 months shielding
4 ct scans
3 trips to urgent care
3 different types of central access
1 new cat
1 less appendix
1/2 a masters degree
God knows how many stitches
1 global pandemic
Thank you to everyone who’s been there for me through all of this and Sue Walmsley I’m sorry for causing you so much worry.
Gav Turner I know this wasn’t what you signed up for but you’ve done a bloody good job and you deserve a medal
23rd September 2020
October 11th 2020
4 years together and here’s to many more
October 14th 2020
Treatment 8 of 9
Bonus! Got here just in time for lunch.
#melanoma #melanomaawareness #immunotherapytreatment #pembrolizumab #melanomauk #stage3melanoma
October 28th 2020
I have no idea who she is but at least it’s raising awareness of melanoma especially in younger people.
Covid19 has meant that people have not been reporting skin changes to their GP or seeing a dermatologist as readily as before the pandemic - but this means that self-monitoring is even more essential - half of melanomas are reported by patients themselves:
November 5th 2020
Pretty much sums it up ♀️
November 6th 2020
November 9th 2020
“It’s only skin cancer”
“It’s not one of the bad ones though is it”
“I know someone who’s had a few different cancers and they’re alright”
I’ve had all of the above said to me, then had to face the uncomfortable conversation of educating them on the reality of aggressive melanoma.
I consider myself very lucky that I was diagnosed stage 3, it could be so much worse.
Don’t under estimate Melanoma, it’s not “just” skin cancer.
November 20th 2020
I miss it so much!
November 25th 2020
Treatment 9 of 9! One whole year of immunotherapy.
But... of course it’s not as simple as that, my most recent scan has shown a little something near my heart, so I’m awaiting a further scan and biopsy to see what the bloody hell it is. Fingers crossed it’s something of nothing and just a little bump in the road
December 10th 2020
If only I hadn’t had that little incident with anaphylaxis last year ♀️
Maybe I’ll just get the next vaccine ♀️
December 25th 2020
Merry Christmas everyone
Feeling very grateful today
January 1st 2021
So yesterday we didn’t get the best news from my biopsy results however... we’re not going to talk about that because this just happened!
Gav Turner you’ve been my everything and my rock through all this shit and I couldn’t love you any more if I tried.
January 8th 2021
So... I know I was a little cryptic about bad news in my post of the engagement but I needed to have an appointment with my consultant for more info first.
Unfortunately the melanoma has spread to my chest and one of my lungs, making me stage 4 now. Luckily there is more treatment options available so today I start on a combination of different immunotherapies to try and reduce/get rid of the tumours. It’s been an emotional rollercoaster this week with being told this news and the excitement of the engagement. We plan on staying strong and positive as best we can and the wedding planning will definitely help with that . Thank you so much for all everyone’s kind words for the engagement and the ongoing support from our friends and family. Going through this during covid has been so tough, but hopefully we’ll all start having the vaccine soon so we can gain a little bit of normality back.
Rachel has remained positive and pragmatic throughout her treatment that is who she is, please donate, I will be
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