On the Morning of My Wife’s Death, I Read Her This Tribute
Rachel Lozano was obsessed with life. This is her story.
It’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.