school is a pretty big milestone and sets youth off on a new adventure.
Recently graduated Oswego High School senior Rachel Herr was expecting her new chapter to begin in the fall at Charleston Southern University in South Carolina where she planned to study music therapy to work with special needs and autistic children.
But her plans had to be put on hold when three weeks before graduation Rachel was diagnosed with cancer – stage 2 Hodgkin’s lymphoma to be exact.
Rachel had three lumps alongside of her neck, said her mother Carrie Herr.
The senior finished up her school year, walked at graduation on June 1 and began chemotherapy on June 4.
Carrie Herr explained that her daughter opted to have a port installed under her skin for the chemo treatments and was set up for four cycles based on 21 days.
“At one point they told us it was stage three,” recalled Herr of the doctors diagnosis. “But then later they said it was still stage two and it wouldn’t have changed how they were going to treat it different. But it wasn’t the same at all. We were so relieved it was only a stage two.”
Rachel wrapped up her chemo treatments on Aug. 12 and her mom said up until that point she was doing well, although the fourth round of chemo “had hit her the hardest.”
She said the hardest part about the treatment was her daughter losing her long, curly hair, but that Rachel has been adapting to modeling scarfs and may even consider short hair later. Before the chemo treatment started Rachel donated her hair to Locks of Love.
Rachel had felt a passion to learn music therapy to work with special needs and autistic children. And Carrie Herr remembered the night of the first CAT scan when they were waiting for results what her daughter said.
“She looked and me and said maybe she could work with pediatric oncology patients.”
That sort of inspiration launched the family to create Rachel’s Hope, which aims to not only help raise funds for Rachel’s treatment and recovery but to help others.
“You begin to realize it’s more than just the story that happening to you,” said Herr. “When you spend time at the cancer center and you get to talk to people… volunteers, those that have cancer or loved ones touched by it you really begin to count your blessings and realize there is joy through the journey.”
Rachel’s Hope is hosting a large fundraising and awareness event on Friday, Oct. 18 at the Emerson Creek Pottery and Tea Room. Tickets cost $20 and include dinner from Fay’s Pork Chop Bar-B-Que and can be purchased here. Those wishing to attend will need to purchase their tickets by the end of September. The event will also feature auctions as well as many activities for families.
The event is still looking for volunteers to help set up, serve food and take down.
They are also seeking donations for auction items for stand-alone or gift baskets and table sponsors for the 25 tables. Those interested can contact Carrie Herr at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Follow along with Rachel’s progress and any other fundraiser opportunities by liking Rachel’s Hope Facebook Page.