05 September 2013

Please Meet Rachel ~ the beautiful Warrior herself :)

Rachel’s Story
Hi Friends of Girls (and boys!) in Sheeps Clothing! 

Melissa invited me here to guest blog and share my story with you all.
Where to begin?
How about how I know Melissa?

I say “know” because I know her through Ravelry and the Internet only.  We met through a knit-along around Christmas time I believe (correct me here if I am wrong Mel?) as we both embarked on knitting a translated (and sometimes complicated) lace shawl for the month of December. Each segment of the lace shawl brought new techniques, new fun in making pretty holes with pretty string. Dropping stitches, messing up stitch counts and trying to understand the language translation challenges together. Let’s just say Melissa’s shawl turned out breathtaking and mine just turned out. :GRIN: I knew she had the lace thing down. 

I worked at a yarn company for a while and I was able to bring Melissa aboard for some sample knitting. Lace of course. Her knitting presented in person was just as lovely as her pictures found on Ravelry. I loved her attention to detail. Also, Melissa’s own family had someone that struggled with cancer and my mom was a 32 year cancer fighter. We chatted a bit here and there about the challenges cancer brought to our families. Encouragement was always in Melissa’s correspondence with me! I am so grateful for her cheerful spirit.
Surprise came in 2010 when I myself was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer. My own mother had just passed away from cancer 9 months earlier. What a blow to me this was! I had all my mammograms since age 21 and I did my monthly checks.  How could this happen? I was only 41 years old. The thought of treatments and trying to raise my four kids with my husband during this time seemed very daunting. How did this girl get through it?

My first chemo treatment in “THE CHAIR” and I was terrified. But I brought knitting…


Still knitting in "THE CHAIR" but now with no HAIR.

 I KNIT my way through it!!!
LAST chemo! WHEW. This was a LONG road.

16 infusions total of chemo…followed by 38 radiation treatments.

Towards the end of treatment, I wasn’t LACE knitting. But knitting was my way of coping with what was going on around me. It was my own personal “therapy” and it took my mind off of my side effects. Plus I had something to keep my mind occupied. I had lists of projects, I had things to make for my nurses/turned friends. It kept me busy.

One thing I desperately missed though was feeling girly, feeling feminine. Losing both breasts because of having BRCA-2 breast cancer gene was a tough blow. Then chemo puts you into chemically induced menopause. Add losing your hair (all body hair really!) and being allergic to your wig why it just seemed to add more insult to injury. I was pretty down.

Enter in Melissa.
After some encouragement from me, she took a leap of faith and she whipped up a beautiful lace shawl. 

It took my breath away! 
So delicate yet not at all weak. Have you seen her pictures of this beauty? Way more cool than mine…
This was a pink WARRIOR concoction that said YOU CAN DO IT.                  

And I did!


I fought cancer and so far…cancer hasn’t won.
Today, it will be 3 years this November since I was diagnosed. It’s hard to believe the woman in these pictures was me. It’s like it happened to someone else.
I can knit lace again. I can look to the future again with hope. I thank God every day for my blessings.
Yet I know there are women out there that are just starting their battles. They’ve just been told they have breast cancer.
They may be in the middle of treatment.
They may be struggling to finish their treatments.
They might even be fighting for a second or third time.
Those women are the true warriors. Those women are brave.

Rachel’s Shawl is Melissa’s way of making pretty holey string into making a woman feel pretty amazing wearing it. Not only women fighting breast cancer, geez, ALL us WOMEN desire that, don’t we? 

And for the months of September and October she is generously donating the money raised from the pattern sales to my Breast CancerSupport group and their retreat held each fall. A scholarship fund will be set up for women that cannot afford to pay for this retreat. They will get a chance to relax, to be pampered, to get away from the hospital and treatments to be around those that understand what it means to go through cancer. MinnesotaOncology and Virginia Piper Cancer Institute partner to offer these retreats for women to share, to love and to heal more than what’s on the outside.

It’s what is on the inside.

Please consider buying a pattern today.
October is PINK month.

Breast Cancer Awareness.
It’s more than a ribbon.
It’s about sharing. 

Thank you Melissa for sharing this pattern with me. Thank you for donating to an awesome cause that will help women with breast cancer. AND Thank you for letting me share ‘MY STORY’ here on your blog!


  1. Oh I could cry buckets I'm so moved by your story, your strength and your bravery. I already bought the pattern early this morning because breast cancer has touched my family. May you have abundant health, happiness and a millions years to watch your children and future grandchildren grow.

    Thank you for sharing your journey.

  2. Thank you Rachel for sharing your story, you really are an inspiration to others. My grandmother was a breast cancer survior, back when it wasn't talked about, so it's wonderful to see the support and love that is now offered.

    I love the shawl and look forward to knitting a few to take to my local hospital as gifts for women who are still battling cancer.

    I wish you continued good health, laughter in your days and yarn to always knit.


    1. I love this, Tracey ~ you're the second person that I've read has plans on knitting and donating the shawl...my heart swells when I read such things. Knitters are such a wonderful, supportive, giving bunch! I'm proud to know you.

  3. Awww...you ladies are making ME cry!!! Kick that cancer to curb. Don't you dare let it "win" by scaring you.

    There's a warrior in all of us I say--because we women, we can ROAR when we need to!!!

    {{{HUGS KAREN and Tracey}}}

  4. Hi Rachel it is so nice to meet you! Melissa you are awesome for your charity. I love the knitting world. I love how it can bring so many of us together and it can even support those we haven't met. Amen!

  5. Rachel, you ARE a warrior! I had a good friend go through chemo recently and even though she's had two NEDs in a row now it's really taken its toll on her physically and emotionally. I'm encouraged by you. :)

    Melissa, so excited to purchase and queue up that beautiful shawl! Proud of you for taking the risk.

    1. thanks, Melissa ~ maybe you could use some of that lovely hand-dye you just made to knit a shawl with :) (and thanks for the support ~ I noticed just now you are sale #25...just hit the $100 mark ~ YIPPEEEEE!!!)

  6. Hi Rachel, I'm so glad that you are doing well! Your story gives a lot of encouragement to other women out there. Warriors we are! Your shawl is lovely!


  7. Hello Rachel, I think I'm the only one here lucky enough to know you in person! So nice to 'see' you here too. Your story is a powerful one, full of hope and inspiration. The best thing you can teach your children is to never, never, never give up, and you know that more than any of us. Best wishes for your continued health and happiness!

    Kelly Lightner Beaman, patron of The Shepherdess

    1. it's such a small world ~ two of my favorite Ravelry people happen to know each other :))

  8. The most beautiful people we know are those who have known defeat,

    known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found there way out of the depths.

    These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that

    fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.

    B e a u t i f u l people do not just happen~ Elizabeth Kubler-Ross

    Thanks Rachel

  9. Rachel, what a happy ending to such a heartbreaking story. So glad you recovery is going so well. My Mother is 91 and is a breast cancer survior. The shawl is as lovely as your spirt. May God continue to bless you and your family.

  10. Such an inspiring story, Rachel. And, Melissa, matched the beauty of your spirit with her shawl design. I am honored by your sharing your story with us. blessings ~ tanna

  11. You all are blessing me and others with every post!!!


  12. Hi Rachel,
    So glad I found this post:)! Continue to pray for you!! You are a blessing and an inspiration to so many!! I'm a newbie to lace - perfect future project and very happy to support your cause:)!! Love you friend!! Hopefully someday we'll knit together "in person". Continued blessings!!!!!!!!

    Love, Michele Elliott

    1. Oh Michele!!! {{{HUGS}}} Would love to knit with you!!! Thank you so much for your encouragement. God bless you friend.

  13. Bless your heart, Rachel, and thanks for sharing your story. It gives us all hope for the future, were we to walk in your shoes. Wishing you continued success and a loooooong life. Love Rachel's Shawl.

    1. :-) Penny your words mean alot to me--thank you!!!

  14. thank you melissa for letting me know about this post (i'd been away).

    i'm moved to tears by your story rachel, although there were smiles too. i'm having a hard time finding the right words to say. i am so sorry you lost your mom to breast cancer. and the journey you have had to take through it too. you are brave beyond words, and completely inspiring. i know many of us have had our lives affected by this disease, my own mother had breast cancer (chemo and a double mastectomy), and my younger sister (she was 47 when diagnosed)went through it too. she is now going through reconstructive surgery. my heart has ached along with her (i wished it were me and not her). my mother passed away, though not from breast cancer but from alzheimers.

    i have purchased the pattern just now and cannot wait to cast on melissa's beautiful shawl. the first one i make will be a gift for my beautiful sister, then i'm thinking on ideas (i donate a portion of what sells in my etsy shop, named after my sister, to The Breast Cancer Site Endowed Fund for Breast Cancer Research, where contributions are matched by the mayo clinic, so doubling the donation).

    it was a pleasure to meet you rachel, thank you for sharing your story, and thank you melissa for introducing rachel to us and making this beautiful pattern so extra special meaningful.
    love, lori

  15. Oh Lori I am so touched by your kind words!!!


    Your sister has been through the hard part--now its restoration time. It's time to restore the new life she has--time to LIVE and let this awful part melt away into the past.

    Breast cancer doesn't just effect our bodies, its our souls too. It marks us, but it doesn't have to beat us down. My hope for you both is that you will take this experience and use it to help others. I think the The Breast Cancer Site Endowed Fund for Breast Cancer Research is a great start! It saddens me to think of how many lives are touched by this awful beast, but it encourages me when we reach out to each other. THANK YOU for sharing with me. :SMILE:

    God bless you Lori!!!

  16. what an inspiring story.....any itty bitty way i can help.....I'm on it! Off to buy the pattern, to knit.....and I'm going to share this with my church charity knitting group on Thursday. Thanks for sharing. Your bravery and high spirits make my heart soar. Hugs.

    1. thanks so much Steph! the pattern link works for non-ravelry members as well so if your church charity group wants to knit also, they can use the link in the blog to get to the pattern as well!!

      you're wonderful :)

  17. Enjoyed reading your story. I am also a breast cancer survivor and was 42 when diagnosed -- 5 1/2 years ago now. I bought the pattern and hope to finish the shawl by the end of October so I can donate it to a local cancer support center during Breast Cancer Awareness month.