Healthy Living

Survivor's Guilt is Real

Survivor's Guilt is Real

Radiant Racheli is an inspiring cancer survivor who continuously strives to spread positivity and awareness among young adults with cancer. As a young girl, she moved around constantly and faced many difficult situations, including family loss, friends passing away, financial burdens, and a father who was not very present in her life. When Racheli applied to college, she was denied but she did not let this stop her. She decided to write an appeal letter and as luck would have it, the school accepted her. In July of 2013, after going to college for 3 years, her stepfather passed away suddenly. Racheli decided to leave school and move back home so that she could be with her mother.

After about 6 months, she decided that it was time for her to start applying to colleges in California and in January of 2015, she moved to Los Angeles. Just five months after moving to LA, Racheli was diagnosed with lymphoma on May 19th at the age of 21. She was just a few weeks shy of finishing her junior year of college. On the day of her diagnosis, Racheli decided to video blog her entire journey with lymphoma because she wanted to share the ‘real and raw’ moments with her family, friends, and the rest of the world. “I coined the nickname Radiant Racheli because I wanted to radiate positive vibes to the people watching my videos, and cancer treatment usually involves some type of radiation, right?” she wrote.

Family history of cancer

The day following her diagnosis, Racheli hopped on a red eye flight to meet with a hematologist-oncologist. After undergoing a week of testing, her results showed that her heart and lungs were healthy enough for chemotherapy and that she had stage 3B Hodgkin lymphoma. “Two of my cousins both had Hodgkin’s lymphoma 40 years ago. I was to start treatment almost immediately with no time to freeze eggs as a fertility preservation option. On June 8, 2015, a port was surgically placed and treatment began that June 12. The treatment plan was to receive 12 rounds of ABVD chemo,” she wrote. Throughout her experiences with lymphoma, Racheli had learned that positivity and mindfulness helped her to get through her treatment and complications.

Experiencing survivor’s guilt

Today, being a two-year cancer survivor, Racheli hopes to pay it forward and inspire others in overcoming adversities that life throws their way. Yet, it is not as easy as it may seem. “I have had the heartbreak of experiencing the loss of fellow cancer patients, including my own grandfather. Since being diagnosed with cancer, loss of life hits a little harder and I seem to experience what is called ‘survivor’s guilt’,” she wrote. In her life after cancer, Racheli experienced post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). “I was introduced to PTSD when I was 17 years old, after having been in a terrible car accident all by myself. A lot of therapy, and even hypnosis, was needed to help me get through the long-term effects the accident had on me. I’m still not totally over it,” she wrote. Coping with lymphoma had the same type of effect on her, yet Racheli stressed that it was not as easy to shake. She knew that her PTSD was triggered by the traumatic experiences that she had experienced, but she challenged herself to take the experiences and create new joyful associations with them.

How does survivor's guilt occur and how is it possible to overcome? Read on to learn more.