Rachel Taylor’s dreams of motherhood took an unexpected turn when she was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 2012. After aggressive treatments, a new passion for health and walking was birthed. GirlTrek, the largest public health nonprofit for African American women and girls, has been there to support her healing every step of the way. Read Rachel’s journey to radical self care below.
0n August 9, 2012, my life was forever changed.
Waking up to Stage 3B cervical cancer was a huge surprise as to how poor my health really was. What started out as a simple surgery to assist me in being able to conceive after years of trying, turned into a life-changing experience and moment that I will never forget.
As l looked around the hospital room, I was in disbelief: “How is this even possible? This can’t be happening. I’m not supposed to be here. I didn’t come here for cancer. I came here to have a baby,” I thought.
After all this time, I have been preparing myself to bring life into this world—not to have life taken away from me. “This must be a dream, somebody, anybody… Please wake me up. I’ll have to have another surgery? Wait! Radiation, what is that? Chemotherapy? No, this is not why I am here.” These were all the things that were racing through my head.
My heart was broken. I was numb, and I could not feel anything but disbelief. At that moment, I would have given anything to not be in that hospital hearing those words from this “miracle doctor” who was supposed to help me conceive.
Reality began to set in and I knew it was time I take a serious look at my whole environment and make some big changes. For the first time in my life, it hit me how unhealthy I had been my entire life. It was high time to give birth to a new way of living, thinking, and feeling.
Welcome to Team-Healthy
After 36 rounds of radiation therapy, six months of invasive chemotherapy, and five surgeries, I knew it was time to get busy moving. I started walking with a very close friend of mine from the moment I was released from my doctors to begin physical activity. Sometimes we would walk in our neighborhood and other times we would ride bikes to stay active.
At a very young age, I always had the desire to empower others. My passion was so strong, and you couldn’t tell me I didn’t have the cure to cancer. There was just a real calling to save the world. To keep myself and others motivated, I would send out a group text to several friends. We called the group “Team-Healthy.”
Team-Healthy was a method that reminded me that we could encourage each other to stay moving and grooving as a team. Friends would reach out to me saying how helpful and uplifting it was to receive messages to keep them motivated, but still something was missing and I wanted more. I was ready to take Team-Healthy to the next level.