Rachel’s Miracle

pic Rachel C. MoroWe never met but our lives intersected. And she will never know it.

Rachel Cheetham Moro died three years ago, on February 6th, 2012. I was still being treated for breast cancer then, and my Italian breast cancer blog did not yet exist. Breast Cancer Consortium did not yet exist. Lucky for me, Rachel’s blog, The Cancer Culture Chronicles, was alive and kicking.

The Cancer Culture Chronicles, now compiled as a book, was among the first breast cancer blogs I followed, along with a few other American breast cancer activists on Twitter. It was through them, three years ago, that I got the news that Rachel died, only 41 years old, from breast cancer, the disease she was diagnosed with nine years earlier.

Rachel was born in Australia, where she spent the first twenty-seven years of her life and where, at school, she met her friend Jo. Their friendship overcame continental distance after Rachel moved to the U.S. Jo lives in Brighton, England, and it was there that I met her in March 2013. I helped organize a screening of the Canadian documentary Pink Ribbons Inc.

After the film, during the debate, Jo, with tears and pride in her eyes, said that ‘breast cancer is not a pink ribbon, but a disease killing thousands of women.’ She mentioned Rachel. She knew about the film because of Rachel, and Jo came to see it because of her, and to honor her memory. At that moment, I wasn’t sure if Jo was talking about the same Rachel I read about. At the end of the evening, I rushed over to her, and she confirmed it. We hugged each other, Jo and I, and we have been close ever since.

After the night at the screening, Jo and I met many other times and, with other women, started a group called Brighton Breast Cancer Action. Our aim is to share Rachel’s message, our work, and to give voice to all the women who are tired of seeing their disease mystified and turned into a business, without anyone trying to prevent it even in the city where we live.

Rachel is no longer with us. We miss her dearly. This extraordinary woman, an accountant turned social critic/anthropologist/writer/activist, fiercely challenged the rich and powerful cancer industry. She was clever, sharp, and sarcastic. One needs only to read her blog to understand why those who knew her feel so lucky. Even after Rachel was gone, she made it possible for Jo and me to meet, to feel our sisterhood as women. A little miracle.

Thank you, Rachel. With you in our heart, we go on.

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