Tag Archives: Rachael

When was the last time you thought about Mesothelioma?

Well, friends, I’m taking a short break from “day in the life” and posts about my adventures to talk about something important.

Cancer is such a deeply terrible thing. I’ve written about it many times, most notably about Rachael’s battle with melanoma and our Olivia Act winner, the Soba family- regarding Alexis’ battle with Glioblastoma (PS, Alexis had another surgery on Tuesday- please say a few prayers for her, her family, and the doctors).

Today is the 10th annual Mesothelioma Awareness Day.

As an average 20-something American girl, I hadn’t given mesothelioma a second thought, other than seeing those increasingly annoying ads for lawyers looking for people with mesothelioma. Sure, one of the perks of having my office at home is that I get to watch daytime television on my lunch break, but all I see are ads for house cleaning products, anti-aging miracle workers, and the faces of aggressive lawyers, looking for new clients. Those ads are the reason that I know that the only known cause for mesothelioma is exposure to asbestos.

Of course, in all the remodeling that we’ve done of our very old home, I thought about finding asbestos in the walls. I didn’t worry about it much, though… Our house was mostly too old to have asbestos, except in the additions. Plus, I stupidly thought, “Asbestos? I’d know it if I saw it, right?” Actually, no… asbestos fibers are too small to see with the naked eye.

When I went up to the Penokee Hills in northern Wisconsin to look at the proposed GTac mine site, a geologist showed me some rocks containing asbestos. Asbestos is actually a group of minerals that all contain those long, thin fibrous crystals. The presence of asbestos in those rocks makes this area a very dangerous place to create an open pit mine… along with a bunch of other reasons that it’s a terrible idea.

There is a lot of information out there about asbestos and mesothelioma, and I’ll link to some resources for you at the end of this post. There are a couple facts that really opened my eyes that I’d like to share.

-This year, 10,000 Americans will die of asbestos-related diseases like lung cancer and mesothelioma.
-Asbestos was once used in common household items such as toasters, hair dryers, and over 3,000 consumer products.
-Mesothelioma is an aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the body cavity (the mesothelium), and the only known cause is exposure to asbestos.
-Asbestos exposure was first linked to mesothelioma in 1964, and worldwide mesothelioma cases are expected to reach their peak around 2020.

Friends, we need to take care of ourselves. Please start some conversations about cancer, including mesothelioma. I was lucky enough to have been contacted by the Von St. James family to ask for help in spreading the word. Heather Von St. James is a proud and beautiful mesothelioma survivor (with one lung!), and I’m happy to share this information with everyone on her behalf! You can read more about Heather here: Heather’s Story

…And you can find information on mesothelioma at www.mesothelioma.com

I love you all. Thanks for reading!

Miles this year: 407.95

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She’s still here :)

Today was the first day that I really attempted a run that would take some mental toughness since we lost Rachael. I was planning on running earlier in the day, but I kept putting it off. I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it without having her there in my mind and in my prayers.
To make a long story short… 6.5 miles, and she’s still there. In my heart, in my memories. I had the opportunity to fill those miles with gratitude and I did. I feel a million times better now that I know that she will still be there with me when I need to talk to her. 🙂

Miles this year: 21.5

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New focus.

It isn’t really a surprise, but I’ve temporarily abandoned my training schedule and adopted the “run until I feel better” plan. It takes surprisingly few miles, and I’m able to work through my own feelings during that time. I’m banking on my previous training and my experiences with marathon prep… I’m trusting that a month of doing what feels good for my heart and soul will win out in the end. I’m confident that it’s early enough for me to “do what I want” and still set a PR up in Duluth.

I’ve decided to donate a dime for every mile that I run since we lost Rachael through the end of the year. I would start that count on January 1st, but I wasn’t tracking my miles earlier this year. 😦 I haven’t decided the exact charity, but it will probably be melanoma-related, or maybe I’ll donate it towards a scholarship in her name.

I’ve officially registered for Grandma’s marathon on June 16th. Brian and I got one of the last hotel rooms available in Duluth, and I’m hoping for an incredible weekend. I’m also registered for the Point Bock Run on March 3rd. I love that quick 5-mile hometown race, and everyone loves the beer at the end. 🙂 I’m tentatively planning on running the Madison half marathon on May 27th- some of my Delta Omicron siblings are joining a team for Miles for Melanoma in Rachael’s memory. I would jump right into it, but I will have had my last long run the week before, and Grandma’s is two weeks after. Knowing myself, I wouldn’t miss a chance to run as part of a team with the brothers and sisters that I love dearly. Oh, boy… It will be a busy spring 🙂

Miles this year: 12.5

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Rachael Streich

My sweet Delta Omicron sister, Rachael, has joined the angels in heaven. She fought a very courageous battle with melanoma.

Rachael was one of those amazing people who handled every challenge with grace, and she took on this particular challenge with unending faith in God’s plan for her.

I ran my first marathon in her honor. I carried a necklace for her, and I gave it to her after I finished the race. I have run so many miles while praying for her that I can’t even give a solid number. When a training run got hard, I prayed for her and hoped to handle that specific athletic challenge with the same grace that she showed while battling cancer every day. Running just won’t seem the same without her.

I was blessed to be able to see her on her last day on this earth. Our college friends and Delta Omicron siblings all went to UW hospital in Madison, and we got to hold her hand. We cried together, prayed together, and laughed in her memory. Special thanks for my friends… Ashley, Amanda, Mary, Curtis and Mo, Jaime and Karl, Kenny, Sarah and Josh… We all got to be together which was wonderful. Rachael would have been happy to know were there for each other.

Grief is a very strange thing. One moment, I feel like my world is crumbling, then the next moment, I feel okay. Just when I think things might be getting easier, something reminds me of her, and the vicious, stinging tears begin again.

Yesterday, my friend Kim suggested that I meet her for a run. I didn’t want to get out of bed, but I’m glad I did. A quick five miles made me feel so much better… Until I put on my Delta Omicron sweatpants and lost it in the locker room.

Last summer, we lost a sister, so Rachael is the second in eight months. After TK was gone, I swore that I would live my life to the fullest. I’d be a better _____. It’s amazing how when your friends are taken from you at such a young age, it gives you perspective. I wonder how my life will change this time as I heal from this wound.

Right now, I am filled with sadness. I know in my heart that Rachael wouldn’t want me to sit around, crying for her. Nonetheless, I feel like I’m wearing an invisible cloak that weighs 1,000 pounds, and trying to be my normal positive self seems impossible. I just ordered the flower arrangement for Rachael’s funeral, and I had a hard time writing the card- there just isn’t a way in existence for me to put into words how special Rachael was and how much she meant to us.

I will continue to pray for Rachael’s family and all her friends, as we grieve together. I ask for special prayers for Truman, Rachael’s boyfriend, as he goes through this intense sadness.


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