Parents plead for ailing daughter
AMANCHESTER, Mandeville,: T JUST 18 years old, Rachel Barrett is looking forward to a life filled with opportunities that will allow her to pursue her dreams. But her heart was broken into a million pieces four weeks ago when she received news of a medical condition she has that could possibly paralyse her.
Since the age of 14, this promising young woman has been experiencing excruciating back pain that was unexplainable and was even thought to be caused by psychological issues.
As a result of the pain, she has been living on pain killers and tries hard to remain positive. But her parents knew something was wrong when she started wetting the bed and showing signs of failing health.
It was after a visit to a doctor in Kingston and a series of tests, including blood, ultra sounds, and finally, an MRI, that the diagnosis of lumbar spinal ependymoma – a rare tumour affixed to the spinal cord – was made.
“It took us a while to find out what it was because the tests we were doing before weren’t showing anything, but the doctor (in Kingston) was concerned when no matter how often she emptied her bladder, there was always a litre of urine that would involuntarily flow. That’s when he requested the MRI, and through the counsel of my sister, we did it, and the tumour was found,” mother, Michelle Hector, explained.
As a result of Rachel’s tumour and its continued growth, the bones in the spine will continue to thin and the nerves connected to her bladder will be further damaged.
“When the doctor checked her reflexes, which should be (measured at) five, it was only two, and she has started having circulatory problems because of the nerves, twitching, and numbness in her feet.”
With what was now considered a high-priority case requiring surgery from four weeks ago, Rachel and her parents are left to look to God for strength and guidance until they are able to raise the approximately $6 million needed. “The doctor didn’t even give us pain meds or anything because he was looking for us to be in his office about three weeks ago to schedule the day for surgery, but we have not been able to come up with the money. It’s really urgent as she has to do the surgery to find out if the tumour is cancerous, and the longer she waits, the worse the nerves become and the harder it will be to do the surgery and avoid all complications that may cause paralysis,” her mother revealed.
Rachel, whose dream it is to become a gynaecologist/obstetrician, pursued a practical nursing course and is working part time and studying at her mom’s cosmetology school, with the hope of one day achieving all she has envisioned for herself.
“I’m very heart broken, very heart broken,” she said as the tears flowed and her pain became evident.
As her mother and father comforted her and reminded her that she was not alone, she spoke with optimism.
“I try not to think about the situation because that only leaves me depressed. Music makes me happy, and so I listen to a lot of music. I’m also a big fan of Quite Perry, and so when I’m down, I watch all his videos. I really want to be able to study medicine and help people, especially old people. I love doing that.”
As a smile broke across her face, Rachel acknowledged all the support she has been receiving on social media and admitted that though she breaks down after reading some comments, she is happy for the support.
But Rachel is in dire need of monetary support as her problem worsens.
Track coach, former vice-principal of Holmwood Technical High School, and Rachel’s father, Edward Hector, made an impassioned plea for his beloved daughter.
“We are exploring all our avenues and we are appealing to good-natured Jamaicans, organisations, companies, friends abroad, and anybody who can assist us. My daughter needs your help. We know times are hard for everyone, but our situation is very urgent, and financially for us, it is not possible. I am a Godfearing man and I know He will come through for us. We remain optimistic.”
To assist Rachel Barrett, visit her Go Fund me page; make a donation at NCB AC# 504611949 or Scotia Bank AC# 650579; or call Michelle Hector at (876) 286-0581 or Edward Hector at (876) 540-9910
She’s not the happiest these day, but Rachel says seeing a smile on someone’s face makes her feel better, so she puts her best foot forward.