I am sad to report that our fellow Cannonball Reader, RachelGraceSanchez, died on December 1st, 2021 after a valiant fight against metastatic breast cancer. I wanted to share a little bit about who she was to me as a friend so that you can join me in remembering one of the greats. Rachel was a great writer and LOVED getting lost in the world of a book. Rachel loved to write reviews and book reccommendations which made the Cannonball such a great outlet for her.
Rachel Grace Sanchez was born July 4th 1987. I like to think that when Rachel took her first gulp of air upon her birth that the world experienced a great stillness as the magic that was Rachel had arrived to greet a weery world. I met Rachel for the first time in February of 2017 at a time when I desperately sought my fellow “ships adrift” who were feeling unmoored with the election of the 45th American President. Rachel was a gulp of fresh air in my own weery world. Rachel fucking HATED Trump. She would want me to be clear on that point. Rachel believed in goodness, in kindness, in sharing all of her love freely with anyone lucky enough to call her their friend. Rachel believed in equity, in racial justice, in Love being Love and LGBTQ+ humans being exactly who they say they are. Rachel believed in each individual human having the right to decide what happened to their own bodies. Rachel believed in a world as kind and gentle as she was.
Rachel loved my children. The first time Rach came to our home she immediately sat down and played Exploding Kittens with my kids for what felt like hours. No complaints, just joy and curiosity as she got to know these two young souls. My kids loved her so much, she was one of the only adults they immediately connected to and would seek out with enthusiasm when they knew she was coming over. Shortly after meeting Rachel my oldest child, then 11 years old, experienced a medical emergency while my husband was on a business trip in India. I was terrified having to rush my little love to the ER and needed someone to come sit with my 6year old so I could rush out the door. Rachel was the first person I thought of to call. I had only met her a few weeks earlier and she had her shoes on and her keys in her hand before I even hung up the phone. That’s just who Rachel was. An incredibly generous, no hesitation, all in kind of friend.
Rachel was up for anything. Our husbands became close friends and the 4 of us attended many parties, cooked amazing food, went to restaurants and got dolled up every chance we had. Rachel loved hip hop and would take us to concerts in Minneapolis to see all sorts of artists. Rachel loved the poetry of the performers and thought hip hop was lyrical genius. The world was so vibrant and fun when Rachel was around.
In February 2020, while the world was still mostly asleep on Covid, Rachel found a lump in her breast. Not cancer. No worries. By spring she had developed a cough that would not go away. Steroids and rest and negative covid tests, a hip that had started to ache terribly. We celebrated her 33rd birthday socially distanced with boxes of wine, tacos and so much joy and laughter. Less than a month later we would learn it was metatstatic breast cancer that had spread to her lungs, bones, brain and organs.
Rachel fought hard, she did not want to die. She pushed herself through intense chemotherapy, radiation for her brain, medical trials and pain that was a 42/10. And Rachel pushed through because she was happy to be alive. I need you to understand how desperately she wanted to live. If there was a treatment with any sort of hope attached, Rach tried it. Rach never gave up trying and never gave up hope she would be the lucky one who lived.
After years in Minnesota Rach decided it was time to head home to California at the end of October where her friends, family and roots were. Rachel was surrounded by friends, family, the mountains and the sea all around her. She was home.
On November 26th Rachel entered the hospital for suspected pneumonia. Nothing helped. Rachel was transferred to Stanford for a higher level of care and emergency chemotherapy. Rachel arrived in Palo Alto fully prepared and wanting to keep fighting. On November 30th we learned there were no treatment options remaining and our very best girl would die in the very soon. I spent 2 sacred hours rubbing Rachel’s back and telling her I loved her. Everything about Rachel was sweet. From her enormous, earnest brown eyes, the enthusiasm with which she listened and her warm hugs. Even Rachel’s voice was sweet. “I love You Too Sarah” she said as I slipped out the hopsital door, laying eyes on my best friend for the last time. She passed away peacefully a few hours later.
Rachel loved everyone, but no one more than her soulmate Christian. Rachel was so honored to be his wife, to love him and to spend her precious life with him. Christian cared for Rachel through every appointment, procedure, scan and result. Good news or bad, Christian was all in. Rachel told me everytime we talked how grateful she was for Christian and how much she loved and appreciated him. Please join me in surrounding Christian, Rachel’s parents, siblings, friends and family with all the love and goodness the world has to offer. I know Rachel would appreciate it.
Rachel was 34 years old when she died. She leaves behind a legacy of courage, kindness and compassion. I sure miss you, Rachie.