OVERCOMING CANCER WITH POSITIVITY | FEATURING RACHELI ALKOBEY
Friday January 13, 2017
Article By: Luis Parades
Imagine this, you’re in your twenties and you are just starting on your journey to adulthood. You have goals and aspirations for the future and then you are diagnosed with cancer.
This is the narrative that Racheli Alkobey was faced with last year when she was told that she had Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. A diagnosis like this, at such a young age, is incredibly life-altering.
This wasn’t Racheli’s first experience with cancer – she supported her best friend as her father passed away from leukaemia and her grandfather (Zada) was diagnosed with lung cancer in October of 2013.
Racheli is a fighter just like her grandfather and he has been a major inspiration to her throughout her battle. He flew from his home in New Jersey to be at her side during her first treatment of Chemotherapy. Zada fought this terrible disease for three years but unfortunately lost the battle and passed away. His fighting spirit lives on in Racheli and all others that he inspired and touched while he went through his journey.
At about halfway through her treatments, she faced a major obstacle that made her road to recovery that much more difficult. As a result of one of her chemotherapy treatments she ended up with toxicity and blood clots in her lungs. She was hospitalized a few times, but like a true fighter she never postponed treatment and continued to move forward. She finished her last round of ABVD on November 12, 2015 and ended the year in a perfect way. She was declared in full remission on December 31, 2015 and celebrated the beginning of the new year.
Racheli’s story is one of positivity and triumph as she never let her cancer bring her down. She always saw the good in things and had a loving smile to share with those that needed it even when times were at their hardest. She has inspired many others with her YouTube Channel “Radiant Racheli“, where she has shared over 100 videos of her cancer journey and the lessons she has learned throughout her battle. Her channel has been both therapeutic to her and serves as an inspiration to others all around the world who are going through the fight of their lives. We met Racheli through Instagram and we had the opportunity to speak and catch up with her.
MEET “RADIANT” RACHELI ALKOBEY
Tell us about some of the people who helped you and were there for you while you went through your fight. How did they help you?
This one is a tough one for me to answer because I truly did have a good gang to support me. I called them my tribe. Family wise, my mom and two brothers were there for me. My brother Sammy was always driving me around and taking me to appointments. I also had my buddy in Florida since the majority of my friends didn’t live there anymore. I also had a good group of friends to get me out of the house or come stay home with me when I wasn’t feeling up to it. Then there are my cancer friends who really could relate to everything I was going through. So many people were there for me in the best way that they knew how to and I am grateful for that.
Honestly, the idea was mine and I came up with it so that I could share updates and everything all in one place. The idea of having to answer the same question over and over didn’t seem appealing to me and I knew that I loved editing prior. It was a chance I took, and boy am I’m glad I did. Being an inspiration and motivation to others was not intentional but then I realized that it may have been my purpose and that choosing to upload videos was not a coincidence.
You were really close with your late grandfather as he was battling cancer around the same time you were, if you had the chance to tell him a couple of things today, what would you tell him?
This is hard. I was actually with him when he passed away and I was with him a couple of weekends before as well. I spent a lot of time with him this past year. I would tell him that I love him, because there is not a second of any day that goes by without me feeling that. I love him forever. He knew that I would also tell him that I’m not disappointed in him. He expressed to me a month or so before he passed away that he thinks everyone is mad at him for not continuing to seek treatment. I told him that I understood because I did, and I still do. I never think or reflect that I wished he would have continued treatment because his body had enough. I would also tell him that my scan came back clear and the most important thing I wish I could tell him is that I found the man I’m going to marry. It kills me that my grandfather didn’t have the chance to meet my boyfriend actually, when I went to see him on that last visit, I told him about Adam, my boyfriend. However, he wasn’t verbal then and I am unsure if he understood or heard what I said but I did say it to him.
Were there any sorts of activities or special places that you loved to go to escape all the things that were happening around you while you were undergoing your treatment?
Video editing, the beach… but mid treatment I didn’t have the energy to do much for a while. I was doing beach yoga and that was a great release for me… but I stopped that mid-way through because I became too weak.
Tell us about your last day of treatment, how did it feel to go into the doctor’s office for the last time? Also tell us what was going through your mind when you were given the great news that you were now 100% in full remission!
It felt pretty good. I was given gifts at the doctor’s office and that was pretty fun! I had a lot of visitors, it was like a big party! Going home that day, it hit me that just because it was my last chemo doesn’t mean that this experience was over. I still had a lot to finish and whole new normal to get used to. So I did a lot of reflecting on that but I was definitely very happy to have my last chemo.
It was great to know that I was in remission! During treatment we do scans to see if the chemo is working so I was already NED (no evidence of disease). I don’t think I was too worried or concerned. I never experienced bad ‘scanxiety’ until my most recent scan, 9 months later, but every time I hear the words “the scan is clear” or “your scan looks great” it’s like hearing it for the first time again. Being told that I was in full remission post chemo was very special because it was New Year’s Eve and I was never big into celebrating New Year’s or felt like I needed to make a big deal out of it, but now I had a pretty huge thing to celebrate that night!
What piece of advice would you give to someone who is struggling to get through their cancer treatment?
This one’s really hard for me to answer because I could totally write an entire book based on this question alone. I have so many things to say because not one thing will work for everyone. My advice would be to acknowledge the hard days just as much as you acknowledge the good days and to remember that it will all pass— the good and the bad. The second piece of advice I’m going to give is that after you acknowledge your feelings and struggles, go see someone. Therapy sometimes is a very taboo thing to talk about or suggest but I would definitely recommend therapy. If therapy isn’t for you, I’d recommend journaling all of what you’re feeling. and while you journal, make sure to make gratitude lists, and always, always, always, remember to love yourself through the struggle.
How has cancer research had an impact for your treatment and your life?
Cancer research saved my life. about 40 years ago, Hodgkin’s Lymphoma was pretty much a death sentence, but because of research the main treatment for Hodgkin’s now has a much better prognosis.
Defeat Is Not An Option is the statement that we at the Fight To End Cancer believe best represents not only our fight, but everyone’s fight against cancer. Everyone has their own personal definition of the statement, what does Defeat Is Not An Option mean to you?
I think I may be different from other people in the sense that I don’t think the defeat lies with not healing from the disease. I think the defeat lies within not letting it take over your attitude and mindset. Not letting the disease take away from what’s in your core the good parts at least. I believe that we all fight this fight, some of us stay in this world and some of us transition. It sometimes happens to be that those that have transitioned did not take defeat at all. I believe that defeat was not an option for me in the sense that I wasn’t going to give up my positivity and my realism to a disease. I remained true to myself, and that’s where the disease lost.
At the Fight To End Cancer we have a new group of men and women every year who step into a boxing ring for the very first time after 6 months of long and gruelling training. At the gala night all funds raised by the boxers and the event is donated back to cancer research. What words of encouragement or motivation would you give to them as they go through the tough time in their training?
Well, I’d say it’s better than going through chemo 😉 I’m just kidding. I’d say to them thank you. That their training and that their hard work is going to make a difference and that it wasn’t all for nothing. No matter if they “win” or “lose”, they both are really winning in the fact that they are helping other humans get the best treatment they can.
Racheli is a true fighter in the Fight To End Cancer! We want to thank Racheli once again for taking the time to share her story with us and we will continue to help and support her! Racheli’s YouTube channel is about “Overcoming Adversity With Positivity”. From her, we learn about the importance of remaining positive and strong as we fight and search for a cure to end this disease. We encourage you to visit and share Racheli’s channel “Radaent Racheli” and if someone you know is going though a tough battle to show them her videos.