Free Cancer Report

Rachel Engstrom (Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Caregiver): Live in the moment

One day, I saw him sitting on the floor; he was so weak that he could not stand up.

Later, he consulted a doctor when I was at work. He suddenly called me and said he needed a blood transfusion.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Diagnosis

Initially, he was misdiagnosed with some other disease, but then we got to know that it was Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, a type of Blood Cancer. I didn't know much about cancer at that time. I tried to collect whatever resources I could to make our cancer journey easier.

Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia Treatment

He underwent bone marrow transplantation, cryogenics to store the sperms and then Chemotherapy and clinical trials. He was feeling better, but then in August 2012, he had a relapse. We got him admitted to the hospital on our 8th wedding anniversary. He had to prepare his body many times for Chemotherapy. The radiation and Chemotherapy deteriorated his body more, and he ended up having so many health issues, including not being able to breathe. Two days after that, when he turned 31-year-old, I had to take off his life support.

I still don't believe how I got the strength to do that; I think I wanted to give him relief from his Pain.

Support System

Our whole family, friends and medical staff supported us a lot. Being part of so many cancer communities made me a better person. I believe cancer communities are so embracing and accepting.

You feel anxious and sad when you get diagnosed with cancer, and it's okay to feel that way; you just need to know that you are not the only one. I started going for counseling during our cancer journey, and I could get it all out everything in front of my therapist. You need to let out everything because you cannot bottle it up. Caregivers cannot burst out in front of cancer patients, so it's essential to have someone with whom they find the space to share their emotions.

I used to go to concerts to reboot myself. I wanted to compile all the things we experienced from the diagnosis to the treatment and everything, so I wrote a book. I have also written about how people can help caregivers so that they can take care of themselves.

Parting Message

The cancer journey has made me a different person. Allow yourself to live in the moment, let the other things go, and take care of yourself and the patient. Ask for help. Every day is a gift, and life is so short so be in the moment. It's okay to feel scary but make your mind up that you can do it. Caregivers are the superhero, so brave and courageous, but they need help too. You are not alone in it, there are people to support you, and this too shall pass.