When Rachelle Bolger found out four years ago that she had leiomyosarcoma, she made up her mind to fight for her life — and for her kids.
“I’m a single mother of three, and I take care of my cousin’s child as well,” said Bolger.
Leiomyosarcoma is a rare form of cancer that effects the smooth muscle cells. Smooth muscle cells make up the involuntary muscles, which are found in most parts of the body: uterus, stomach and intestines and the walls of all blood vessels.
Leiomyosarcoma is a resistant cancer, and not very responsive to chemotherapy or radiation. The best outcome occurs when it is taken out surgically with wide margins, early, while small and before it spreads.
Bolger, 40, who works as a nurse at Sandhills Regional Medical Center in Hamlet, understood the gravity of the situation but held out the hope that she would pull through.
She underwent major surgery, chemotherapy and radiation.
Four years passed, and she had some follow-up procedures during that time but kept her chin up and kept on with her business as usual.
“She found out that the cancer is back, and is in multiple organs this time,” said friend and co-worker Kim Puckett. “She’s been out of work because the treatment makes her very sick, and she just learned that she’s probably going to have to be out even longer than anticipated. She’s in danger of losing her job at this point.”
Friends have rallied around Bolger, vowing to help her stay afloat as she battles this disease while trying to care for her family.
“All I want is to beat this, go back to work and take care of my kids,” said Bolger.
She said she has tried to get assistance from Medicaid and has applied for food stamps, but has been denied at every turn.
“I’ve just been trying to juggle treatments, kids and working whenever I can — but I just can’t work right now,” said Bolger. “I can’t get any government assistance because I worked as a nurse. They don’t take into consideration that I’m sick, and traveling back and forth to Charlotte for treatment. All I can do is take it one day at a time at this point.”
Bolger said, “We really don’t know what’s going to happen with the treatments this time. We’re trying a clinical trial of a new medication, but this type of cancer is very resistant. I had good hopes the first time around.”
To help offset some of her friend’s living expenses, Puckett has organized a fundraiser in her friend’s honor.
Saturday, Nov. 12
Loch Haven Golf Course, 18 holes
9 a.m. start time
$200 per team (of four)
There will also be a fundraiser/yard sale in front of the hospital Saturday morning at 7 a.m., to benefit Rachelle and another employee battling cancer.
“She’s a fighter, and she’s overcome so much already,” said Puckett. “She dedicated her life to taking care of others, and I’m just looking for a way to help take care of her now.”
Bolger became very emotional, when commenting on the friends who have rallied around her during this difficult time.
“I’m honored to have Kim and everybody looking after me,” she cried. “I know it takes time away from their own families, and times are tight for everyone these days. I just really appreciate it.”
For more information on the tourney, or additional fund-raising projects, contact Kim Puckett at 910-205-8136 or 910-206-5932.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.