Guest Blog Post – The Rachel Lynn Henley Foundation

Guest Blogger:  Kelly Lauricella, Co-Director/Secretary, Rachel Lynn Henley Foundation

In September of 2007, Rachel Lynn Henley was a freshman in high school, thriving in her new school as a great student and a strong and talented athlete. 

In November, at 14 years old, Rachel’s busy, happy life was turned inside-out when she was diagnosed with synovial sarcoma – a rare soft tissue cancer that was found in her shoulder. 

After seven months of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, she was found to be cancer free in the summer of 2008. 

However, in 2012, when it seemed like life was back to normal, Rachel and her family learned their worst nightmare had come true when Rachel’s cancer returned with a vengeance – now in her lungs and in an area over her liver.

Rachel endured three more years of chemotherapy, radiation, and surgeries, all with a beautiful smile on her face and positive spirit intact. 

Rachel chose to live her life to its fullest and encouraged others to do the same. Instead of feeling sorry for herself, she made the decision to make a positive difference in the world. Rachel wanted to give back, as so many others had done for her. Rachel’s battle ended on June 2, 2015, but she continues to inspire so many, every day. 

During her fight, Rachel developed a passion for helping others, particularly kids and young adults dealing with a cancer diagnosis. One of Rachel’s dreams was to create a foundation to provide support to various cancer research organizations focusing on pediatrics and sarcomas, as well as organizations that support the daily lives of those living with cancer. In an attempt to carry out her wishes in the best way we can, the Rachel Lynn Henley Foundation has been created in her honor. It makes our hearts happy knowing we are doing something that she wants and loves.

Beads of Courage was one of the organizations that Rachel had hoped to support when she envisioned her foundation. They provide beautiful glass beads to kids fighting cancer (and other serious illness) to help document their journey and tell their story. The kids get beads for each clinic visit, blood transfusion, chemotherapy session, hair loss, hospital stay and all of the other icky things that they face on a daily basis. 

Rachel’s Beads of Courage were so meaningful to her and continue to be a treasure to us today. 

We are so happy to announce that, thanks to all of our amazing donors, we have the chance to donate to this organization in Rachel’s honor. 

One thing that Rachel learned during her fight was how important it was to be able to communicate with other young cancer fighters to provide support to one another. When she was unable to find the right group for her, she worked with others to create a group for young adults. Their Facebook group of cancer fighters became very important to Rachel during her battle. 

Beads of Courage recently created a Trade Bead program, allowing young adults in active treatment in one hospital to write notes of encouragement to young adults at another hospital and to provide symbolic beads for this Trade Bead experience. 

With our $1,250 donation to this program, they will be organizing a Trade Bead experience for 125 Beads of Courage members, including, at our request, young adults at Seattle Children’s Hospital and Mary Bridge Children’s Hospital. We will be working with them to select a bead specific to our program sponsorship. We think this is a perfect fit for our mission! 

Drawing, painting and writing were some of the things that Rachel loved to do most. They helped her to relax and focus her positive energy. Beads of Courage understands the importance of finding positive ways to relieve stress for young cancer fighters. Last year, they piloted their Bead Strong Program with great success. This program includes art directives and a unique symbolic bead with each activity. These art directives are designed to provide a meaningful bedside reflective activity to help manage worries, while holding hope during the challenges of treatment. 

We’re thrilled to announce that, with our $750 donation, Beads of Courage will provide up to 100 meaningful Bead Strong Activities and provide an opportunity to include a statement on each activity sheet from our foundation as the sponsor and to share Rachel’s story. We can’t think of a more meaningful way to honor Rachel than to help share what she learned with others. 

Learn more about the Rachel Lynn Henley Foundation here

Note from Beads of Courage:  We are grateful to Rachel’s family for honoring her life with their $2,000 sponsorship. Beads of Courage has many sponsorship opportunities available for 2017 for family foundations, small and large businesses, civic groups and more.  For serious inquiries, please email us.