At just 16 years old, Raquel was diagnosed with Pre-B acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She first noticed something was wrong in the summer of 2015 when she realized she had swollen glands behind her ear. Her mom took her to the pediatrician and was told she would likely be getting a virus soon. The bumps went away, but their concern grew when a few days later the glands were swollen again, and Raquel’s grandfather, who is a doctor, told her mom that these symptoms were very strange. He insisted that she needed to have a complete analysis of her blood done. On their second visit to the pediatrician, things turned dire.
After running several tests, Raquel’s pediatrician told her mom she needed to head straight to Nicklaus Children’s Hospital where Dr. Guillermo de Angulo would be waiting for them in the Emergency Department. Raquel immediately understood what the doctor was saying, even though her mom could not fathom the idea; Raquel had cancer. As soon as they arrived at Nicklaus Children’s, Raquel underwent more tests and Dr. de Angulo confirmed the diagnosis. The following day, he gave them the best news they could expect under the circumstances; that the type of leukemia Raquel had responds well to treatment, and that, luckily, they had caught the cancer early on. She started treatment right away and four months later, in December just before the holidays, they received even better news.
The chemotherapy was doing its job and Raquel was in remission. She is now completing the rest of her treatment plan, which is set to last two and a half years, with the confidence that everything will be okay. Raquel is determined to turn this experience that no family ever wants to go through into something positive that could help others. She and her best friend started raising funds to donate American Girl dolls without hair to young cancer patients to help them cope with the loss of their hair while undergoing treatment. She is also excited to be this year’s MCHF5K Hero, and will be participating with her team “Oliver Forever Strong,” named after a close family friend who lost his battle to cancer.