This Is Us

On the Morning of My Wife’s Death, I Read Her This Tribute

Rachel Lozano was obsessed with life. This is her story.

Gabe Lozano
Human Parts
Published in
16 min readMar 3, 2020
Photos courtesy of the author.

IIt’s June 2005 and I’ve just graduated college. Jobless and bored in St. Louis, I find myself at a Cardinals game two seats down from an incredibly attractive woman. A bit to my surprise, she seems interested in me and asks what I do, to which I respond, “Well, I don’t have a job. I don’t have a car. I don’t have any money. I live with my parents. And when I’m lucky, I get to drive my mom’s minivan.”

She hands me her business card and instructs me to call her sometime.

I am shocked, but elated.

Those were the days of AOL Instant Messenger (AIM), so when I arrive back to my parents’ house, I immediately send her an instant message. She’s not online, so I crank the computer’s volume up to full blast and turn the screensaver off just in case she responds while I’m asleep.

Sure enough, I wake up early the next morning to the erratic pings of her IMs. As we begin to chat, she asks if my great aunt Janet — the mutual connection who sat us next to each other at the baseball game — told me about her health problems.

“She didn’t say anything,” I admit.

“Okay. Well, I’ve had cancer three times and I’m only one year in remission from a type of cancer of which I was given a zero percent chance of survival,” she typed. “What’s your email address? I’d like to send you the transcript of a speech I gave out in Los Angeles.”

Minutes later, Rachel’s unbelievable backstory is in my inbox: a 45-minute transcript detailing the horrors of three bouts with cancer. Borrowing a few of Rachel’s words, here are the highlights:

At 15, Rachel’s body was shutting down by the hour. Doctors discovered an egg-sized tumor strangling the top of her spinal cord and rushed her into emergency surgery. It’s known as an Askin’s Tumor, a rare sarcoma. For the first of many times to come, she escaped death. Post-surgery, with cancer still lingering throughout her back, she was given a 40% chance of survival and endured a year-long treatment of intensive chemotherapy and radiation.



Gabe Lozano
Human Parts

Learning and building.