Posts by Rachel Mihalko

Survivor, Hodgkin's Lymphoma

Rachel was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma two years ago at 19, and has since been learning to live life in the “new normal”. She loves theatre, writing poetry, and crafting of all sorts. Reading has fueled her passion for writing, and you will rarely find her without a book on hand.

Challenging My Comfort Zone

by Rachel Mihalko August 11, 2020

This summer working with Elephants and Tea has been more incredible than I could have imagined. I have gotten to work with the most wonderful people, do tasks that I love, and connect with so many new people. I never quite knew how to get connected in the AYA cancer world. I was always nervous […]

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Listening to Folklore as a Cancer Survivor

by Rachel Mihalko August 3, 2020

If you haven’t heard the new Taylor Swift album yet, this is your friendly reminder to go check it out. I have to admit, since her style has shifted, I haven’t been following her super closely, but when she announced her new album’s release in the midst of quarantine, she had me hooked. 

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Your Fear is Valid

by Rachel Mihalko July 27, 2020

This fear that I feel is not uncommon in this world. So many survivors and patients are struggling with this right now. People who don’t understand it may call it irrational, but what it truly is is valid. We have been through so much, so no wonder a global pandemic would bring out those fears. We’ve lived periods of our lives in which we avoided sickness as much as possible, because of how detrimental it can be when in treatment with a suppressed immune system. 

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Disappearing Behind the Diagnosis

by Rachel Mihalko July 20, 2020

I’ve found myself pondering and writing about friendships a lot lately. I think all human beings are created for connection, and that is something that I personally crave so much. Having obstacles to that connection is so frustrating, and I’m still piecing together what life looks like these days since finishing treatment. 

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Friendships Through Cancer: It’s Complicated

by Rachel Mihalko July 13, 2020

Although I do wish many of those friendships didn’t end the way they did, I don’t want to make anyone feel guilty for not knowing the “right” thing to do. It’s hard for anyone to figure out how to react in a situation like this, and if I’m being honest, I could come up with a huge list of what not to do and a very limited list of what to do.

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Man’s Best Friend

by Rachel Mihalko July 3, 2020

I haven’t experienced loss to this degree before. At least when I was old enough to remember. I had no clue this would be so hard. And throwing cancer into the mix – or even the possibility of cancer – makes this so much harder. I know what it’s like to go through that. But the difference is, I made it out on the other side. 

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Find What Works For You

by Rachel Mihalko June 29, 2020

It still hits me all over again sometimes. The fact that I had cancer. But the difference is, now I have people to turn to who feel the same way. People who are actually close to my age and have had a port, been administered chemo, gotten radiation. I might be the quietest person on those Zoom calls, but it still makes such a big impact on me. 

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When Your Life Becomes the Story: Poetry and Prose

by Rachel Mihalko June 22, 2020

The thing about the stories we read or watch is that there’s typically an ending. You can wrap the plot up in a tight little bow and be done with it. That’s not life. We are continuously growing and changing and recreating our own narrative. I definitely have trouble with that concept; if I had my way, I would just skip to the end: the parts where I’ve recovered emotionally from cancer and have put the pain of the past completely behind me. 

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This Is My Reality

by Rachel Mihalko June 15, 2020

Until now, I haven’t realized that, two years after my cancer diagnosis, once I’ve reached that state of running on empty, a lot of unresolved anger about cancer resurfaces. I’ve tried to tuck it away for so long, but I have to face it eventually. I remember how angry I was when I had to do more chemo. That was when I knew I had to take a semester off of school. I would have to miss out on time with friends and just living like a normal college student. 

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Picture Perfect is Overrated

by Rachel Mihalko June 8, 2020

I’ve realized that things are never going to be picture perfect. Some days that I thought would be not a big deal meant the world to me. And other days that I put so much into, were underwhelming. I can’t control what the outcome of anything is going to look like, and I’m learning to be okay with that. 

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