Woman leans on her faith in health battle

Rachel Schafer

SHERBURN — A pancake feed and bake sale benefit is slated for Rachel Schafer from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Dec. 16 at Martin County West High School.

Proceeds will help Rachel with expenses incurred during illness and surgeries.

When Rachel was 12 years old, she was diagnosed with kidney disease. While she was in and out of the hospital for the next few years, the medication used to help her is believed to have caused Hodgkins lymphoma.

What followed was an ambitious fight with chemo and radiation, and then Rachel was cancer free. But at the age of 16, her kidneys failed and she received a kidney transplant from her mother, Julie (Phil) Schafer of Sherburn. The transplant was successful and Rachel surpassed the longevity predicted (10 to 15 years) for transplanted kidneys. She is now 35 years old.

Rachel also had two valves in her heart damaged as a result of chemo and radiation treatments, doctors believe. She had open heart surgery in October to repair those valves. The surgery was successful and was needed before a kidney transplant could take place.

Rachel told family: “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow, and that is what keeps me strong.”

Rachel undergoes kidney dialysis three times per week. She works from home on her computer when she feels well enough. She has no personal leave time left, so when she does not work, she is not paid. But she has praise for her employer about working with her through all the days she has needed for heart surgery and dialysis.

Rachel is on a donor list for a kidney transplant. Information can be obtained from Abbott Northwestern Hospital kidney donor transplant coordinator Susanna Gust at (612) 863-8886.

Rachel has a Caring Bridge site at Caringbridge.org/visit/rachelschafer. There is also a site to help with donations at youcaring.com/rachelschafer. Or those interested can attend the benefit and contribute to help with her expenses.

Rachel’s family says she is so upbeat, positive and faithful.

“I live in the peace and joy that God has, and is holding me, protects me and provides all my needs,” Rachel said.

The family sends thanks to all who have encouraged and supported Rachel through the years.