Help Rachael Sawka Fight Cancer

Rachael is usually found out at cabin, on the ice playing or coaching ringette, or laughing with her friends after cracking some goofy joke.  She is a hard worker, whether it was years of dedication at Sobeys during the school year, or working with Conservation MB in the summer, while finishing up her Criminology degree at the University of Manitoba.  

It was this past February where her life hit a large bump in the road.  You may have heard her story, as it has been all over the news across Canada.  Rachael had a small bump begin to grow on the back of her neck, and after numerous doctor appointments, she was told it was a cyst and that it could be removed in the spring.  Over a very short period of time, this "cyst" grew rapidly and caused Rachael to be in a ton of pain forcing her to go to the emergency room 3 times, and back to her doctors 6 times.  This "cyst" grew and grew until it was the size of a baseball protruding from the back of her head, where she finally was able to get an appointment with a plastic surgeon who refused to remove it once he sliced it open.   

It was a Monday afternoon where Rachael received a call from this plastic surgeon saying "you have skin cancer"... clearly a day she will never forget.  From this point on, Rachael had to get a total of 5 blood transfusions, be on antibiotics for an extended period of time, and suffer from intollerable pain and sleepless nights waiting for a diagnosis. It took months for doctors from across North America to diagnose Rachael with Ewing's Sarcoma- a rare form of bone cancer. 

Rachael had to endure 25 rounds of painful radiation to the back of her neck, followed by an extensive surgery removing all of the tissue in her neck and a large piece of her skull.  She had the muscle grafted from a muscle flap on the left side of her back, and a large skin graft from her right thigh.  The post-operative pain was unimaginable, and the subsequent infections with the grafts were a nightmare.  Rachael had to spend weeks going in and out of hospital, and then had to spend 4 hours a day; 2 in the morning and 2 at night getting out-patient antibiotics at a clinic.  

The doctors then decided it would be necessary for Rachael to get chemotherapy.  She is currently in and out of the hospital, and will be for the next 6 months receiving high doses of these toxic drugs.  Before the chemotherapy began, Rachael had to spend $16,000 on fertility treatment and freezing her eggs so that she has an opportunity to have children in the future.  These medical costs, plus the costs of anti-nausea and pain medications, and years of physiotherapy to regain some mobility in her neck are a huge financial strain that no one going through this should have to think about.  Please help us support Rachael fight this tough battle!

Thank-you so much for your support and well wishes for Rachael and her family!

Read more about Rachael's story here...

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Jenna Intrater
Winnipeg, MB

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