How I Navigated the Cancer World and How You Can, Too

with Rachel Engstrom

About the Episode

A loved one being diagnosed with a severe illness is one of the most horrendous experiences we may have to face. And eventually, losing someone you care about is even more devastating. These sorts of experiences turn our whole world upside down, and they sometimes decide heavily influence where we’re headed in our life. Our guest today is someone who has endured the devastating effects of a loved one going through a terminal illness and the grief of losing him. Rachel Engstrom, Certified Health Education Specialist and the author of the book “Wife, Widow, Now What?” joins us today to share her experiences that inspired her book.

We start the conversation with the story of how Rachel met Grayson in the year 2000 when she was 19. Three years later, Rached proposed to him, and soon after, they got married and were on the way to building their new life together. It wasn’t long before Rachel and Grayson saw signs of trouble. We talk about the acute lymphoblastic leukemia diagnosis of Grayson and how the emotions that come with the news influenced Rachel and Grayson’s lives.

According to Rachel, one of the first challenges they faced was dealing with a plethora of new information, acronyms, and unfamiliar medical concepts related to Grayson’s condition. She shares with us some of the methods she used to try to understand and be educated about Grayson’s condition. While Grayson was under treatment, Rachel had to figure out lots of things in her life, including taking care of Grayson, maintaining finances, keeping her job, and taking care of herself. We dive deep into how she managed all these overwhelming tasks and some useful tips for caregivers.

After a long battle against the illness, eventually, Rachel had to say goodbye to Grayson. She talks about what that fateful day felt like, how her life, her relationships with her peers, her life trajectory, and how she looks at the world changed after Grayson was gone. Wrapping up the episode, we talk about the current chapter of Rachel’s life and the work she does to help other people who are fighting cancer.

One of the concepts Rachel focuses on in her book is widow logistics. We dive deep into this concept of managing the logistical aspect of a loved one passing away and figuring out life after the demise of a loved one.

Connect with Rachel Engstrom

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