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Rachel R.


My older sister, Rachel, followed all the right paths: she graduated from Hollins University, pursued her educational specialist degree, married her college sweetheart and once her career was established, gave birth to the first of two sons. Out of all four sisters, Rachel was the one we called when we thought we were pregnant or had a question about finances. We counted on her to pick up the phone when we called, and we took her easy conversation for granted. In early September of 2009, Rachel was home alone with her two sons when she became very dizzy and knew something wasn't right in her body. She called her husband who arrived home moments before she lost the ability to communicate and move on her right side. The AVM stroke that struck Rachel was a shock, one that almost ended her life at the age of 32. A near death experience on the surgical table and weeks of intensive rehabilitation left my family unsure of Rachel's future. Would she talk? Would she walk? Would she ever hug her children again? These questions plagued my family every day. More than anything, I feared losing my best friend.

However, I did not lose her - far from it. Instead, I gained a role model. After only ten months of weekly rehabilitation, with the love of her husband, sons and extended family to motivate her, my sister returned to work as a school psychologist where she can better empathize with children with disabilities.


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