Apr 17, 2014 9:37 AM by Elizabeth Hill
An Acadiana woman fighting advanced stage breast cancer received the surprise of her life recently.
Rachel Wickman, her husband and two kids were attending her company crawfish boil at the Acadiana Crime Lab in New Iberia. Little did she know her co-workers were up to something.
They were able to get Rachel away from the crowd and inside briefly while her family members who had traveled from different parts of the country joined the party.
Then, the big reveal. When Rachel walked outside she was greeted by extended family and many friends, but that was just the beginning.
Here's where it gets interesting. Starting months ago, Rachel's co-workers and friends had been secretly working to raise money and grant her a trip to Disney World with her family.
The group reached out to anyone and everyone who could help and that included reaching out to the Dream Foundation that helps grant wishes to adults fighting life-threatening illnesses.
Initially, they had a difficult time secretly applying Rachel for the Dream Foundation because they needed personal information like medical and financial records. Luckily, Rachel expressed in interest in applying for the Dream Foundation on her own and, of course, her co-workers encouraged it.
Long story short, the Dream Foundation granted Rachel and her family a trip to Disney World and would be covering the majority of expenses. The fundraising efforts continued and in the end, Rachel's co-workers, friends and family were able to present her with a "little" extra.
They presented her with a check for more than $18,000!
So now, Rachel and her family will be able to enjoy Disney World with some extra spending money and then some.
Needless to say, the surprise went off without a hitch and Rachel, husband Chris and their boys were shocked. Rachel and Chris say they are blown away by the generosity of their friends and family and are incredibly grateful for all of the support they've received since Rachel began her fight more than three years ago.
Diagnosed at just 36 years old with stage 4 metastatic breast cancer that had already spread to her spine, pelvis, chin and lymph nodes, doctors told Rachel they could give her "five or six good years."
She's endured countless rounds of chemotherapy, a double mastectomy, surgery to remove a brain tumor, brain radiation and she continues to fight. Most recently, Rachel says she's had two lesions appear in her liver and she is currently undergoing oral chemo treatments. She tells us that her most recent scans show the tumors shrinking.
Rachel has continued to work as a forensic drug chemist at the crime lab throughout her treatments.
She's participated in a number of fundraising efforts like the Susan G. Komen 3-day race, the Race for the Cure and the Warrior Dash. Rachel is also a member of local and non-local cancer support groups like Team Tiara.
Despite her difficult battle, Rachel remains one of the most positive and uplifting people you will ever meet. She says she's committed to fighting and refuses to let cancer win.
To see a gallery of pictures from the big surprise you can click here.