Haley and Samantha first met Rachel in Girl Scouts in second grade. From the first time they met, Rachel was the kind of young person who would watch out for her friends. She was always upbeat and genuinely thoughtful, had a smile as sunny as her disposition, and she loved cheese. Rachel was in Samantha’s 4th grade class and Haley’s 5th grade class, and they were Girl Scout sisters through 6th grade.
In 4th grade, Rachel was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, and a rare chromosomal abnormality called Philadelphia Chromosome Positive (Ph+) that made her cancer resistant to chemotherapy. Rachel participated in a study for pediatric treatment with a therapy that has shown promising results in adult Ph+ leukemia patients. She endured a year of very aggressive treatment, that at first seemed to have worked.
But by the spring of her 5th grade year Rachel was diagnosed again with leukemia. She would need a bone marrow transplant and underwent more chemo in preparation for the procedure. Last year, during a brief break from treatment, Rachel attended her graduation from elementary school. She lit up the room.
In the summer of 2012 Rachel moved to Boston for the bone marrow transplant. She had only limited in her contact with friends (thank goodness for Skype). She was not able to start middle school with the rest of her classmates, but she was able to attend some Girl Scout events; she joined her friends for an ice skating trip and the annual father-daughter event. Make a Wish sponsored a trip to Disney for Rachel with her family and closest friends. But by spring of 2013 Rachel had cancer again. There wasn’t much more that could be done. Three months after her 12th birthday, Rachel passed away at home on June 5, 2013.