Rachel was the youngest yet mightiest of the three "Guss Girls". After completing Graduate School at Elizabethtown College with a degree in Occupational Therapy, Rachel was diagnosed with duodenal cancer. Rather than beginning her field work, she started the 1st of 14 chemotherapy treatments. Her course in life was down a much different road than her classmates, friends and family. She kept pace with a smile and a positive attitude. Many surgeons around the country reviewed Rachel's case and reported that surgery would be suicide. The road was long and unsure until we met the gifted surgeons from the National Institutes of Health: Dr. Rudloff and Dr. Avital. They were our surgeons of hope. They studied, planned and were willing to surgically remove the tumor wrapped around Rachel's aorta. Rachel was the first person in this country to undergo such a procedure. She had nine major surgeries and had to climb mountains everyday, including a rupture of her aorta.
With courage, strength, hope and faith Rachel did not back down to the challenges faced with battling this disease.
NIH provided Rachel with love and respect through a community of surgeons, nurses, wound care, pain and maintenace staff. We are so grateful for their love.
Dr. Rudloff's kind words to our family,
"We will never forget Rachel: we will be putting a small plaque with Rachel’s name above the entrance of my and Dr. Avital’s laboratory. I found the following small lyrics which I would like to include on that; while a simple children’s rhyme, I thought they would help remembering Rachel’s gentleness:
Row, Row, Row your boat . . .
Gently down the stream . . .
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily . . .
Life is but a dream . . .
I understood the deeper meaning of these children rhymes only a few months ago: in life we are not asked to simply ‘Row our boat’. No, we are asked to ‘Row, Row, & Row…’ with the realization that we are to continue rowing throughout our lives as Rachel did over the last 18 months. It is critically important for our fellows and trainees to understand the huge privilege we have when we care and look after patients like Rachel, and that the research we do always has to focus and foster of making the lives of our patients better. What better example than Rachel there is to show how much work there needs to be done and how needed it is?"