Remembering Rachael Masri z”l: A Young Mother’s Battle with Stage 3 Stomach Cancer

Remembering Rachael Masri z”l: A Young Mother’s Battle with Stage 3 Stomach Cancer

This week I heard some very sad news. Rachael Masri, a 32-year-old mother of three children from Maaleh Michmas, passed away after several years of struggling with stomach cancer. As an active member of the JewishMOM.com community, Rachael was someone I knew for a long time, even though we never actually met. 5 years ago, when I posted a series of interviews with JewishMOM.com readers, Rachael was featured. When, 3 years ago, I asked readers to send in their personal stories of overcoming challenges in honor of Chanukah, Rachael submitted the following article about her own battle with stage 3 cancer.

For me, re-reading Rachael’s posts, what saddens me the most is remembering how deeply Rachael yearned to do something that most of us have the luxury of taking for granted–being a mom and taking care of her children. What wouldn’t she have given to accompany her adorable children to their first days of gan and school this week, like all the other mothers in her yishuv and across the world? What a unfathomable loss for her young children, her husband, her parents, Maaleh Michmas, and all of Am Yisrael. Please Hashem, may Heaven provide comfort for her mourning family.

MY BATTLE WITH STOMACH CANCER by Rachael Masri

This year I literally battled for my life: I fought Stage 3 cancer.

The cancer was discovered after months of pain. At first I was too busy to pay attention to it and thought it was just recurring food poisoning. My son had just survived a serious illness (which caused him to become deaf) and we were dealing with the aftermath, so my own stomach pains took a back seat.

Eventually I went to doctors to see what my problem was, but they said it was nothing. My father, a doctor in the US, saw how much I was suffering and guided me in the right direction towards a test for helicobacter pylori. Unfortunately, I tested positive, and underwent treatment three times, but it was already too late. A large tumor had already formed, blocking the entrance to my stomach. After several endoscopies, my diagnosis was confirmed: Stage 3 signet cell adenocarcinoma: stomach cancer.

Then there was the chemo. It was tough. Weeks in the hospital. Then the big surgery, and more weeks in the hospital. More chemo, more chemo, more chemo (12 treatments in total). And when I thought I was done, there were 27 radiation treatments. By the end I couldn’t walk, eat, or even stand.

This Rosh Hashana I was so weak that I thought that if I closed my eyes, I wouldn’t open them again. I was rushed to the ER that day.

In addition to the treatments, I had infections, complications. I still do.

So what kept me going? Besides the amazing support from my friends, family, and neighbors in Maaleh Michmas, my kids were my guiding light. Every time I moved into a new hospital room I put their pictures on the wall. My oldest son needs me: He is starting Talmud Torah, and needs me to support him and go over the Aleph Bet with him at home. My second is in kindergarten, and that’s a big transition for her- she needs her mommy to talk about what’s bothering her, hug her, and just be there for her. My youngest is deaf and handicapped- he needs me to take him to his therapies and doctors, and help him thrive despite his challenges.

(from left to right): Avraham (5), Elyahu (2), Hanna Dina (3.5), with parents David and Rachael Masri (both 30)

(from left to right): Avraham (5), Elyahu (2), Hanna Dina (3.5), with parents David and Rachael Masri (both 30)

The Maccabbees were heroes because they defeated a force that wanted to change them and destroy their spirituality.

My cancer also tried to destroy me, and my spirituality.

It’s easy to give up on G-d in the face of such a big challenge.

But as much as I wanted to give up, I didn’t. I prayed harder, sought out Hashem. I read more divrei Torah, and found inspiration.

I didn’t ask why, I just asked for the strength to get over it and go home to my family.

It has all just been so, so hard. But no one was going to fight this fight for me- I had to be my own hero if I wanted to survive.

Now the rewards are incredible. Every hug from my kids has new meaning. Every bite of food is incredible. Every time I go outside it is so beautiful.

I thank Hashem for giving me this strength, and this new life!

Click here to read more about JewishMOM heroine Rachael Masri in this interview from two years ago

Please pray for a complete and immediate healing for Rachel Leah bat Sara

Related posts:

Singing in the Rain
Ruchama ben Yosef: Singing My Way Through Infertility
The Israeli Teacher Who's Inspired 19 Million on Facebook (2-Minute Tissue-Alert Video)

19 comments

  1. Simone Ron

    Rachael- you are my hero!
    I’m praying for your refua shlema.. and keep envisioning the big, big messibat hodaya we will through you be’esrat Hashem soon, after we will hear about your complete recovery- may it be soon! May you expirience a private Nes Chanuka, in which the doctors tell you that you’re completely healthy!!

  2. We are all so proud of you…your battle is our battle…we’re here to support you and the family all the way!
    Chanuka Sameach
    Rozi

  3. Thank you for sharing your story. May Hashem bless you with continued strength to survive and return to good health. Refuah Shelaimah b’karov

  4. May Hashem bless you with a complete refuah, a refuah shelaymah. And please continue to share your Emunah, your faith in Hashem, because your Emunah will help so many others in their daily life struggles!

  5. May you have a complete rafuah b’karov. You are an incredible inspiration. May you have a long life with your husband and see much nachas from your precious children! Thank you for sharing your story.

  6. עץ של בריאות
    http://www.motke.co.il/news/new….
    סגולותיו הרבות של עץ הגרביולה, כולל הפירות, הזרעים והעלים, ידועות כבר מאות שנים. לאחרונה התגלה שהוא אפילו מסוגל למגר תאים סרטניים

  7. Edith Rivkah Levitt

    Hi sweet Rachael, it is so hard to know what goes on in someones live you taught me the lesson again to NEVER look on the outside. I was so happy to see you with Elaine at the first station enjoying a meal and so happy to talk to you and when I walked away I actually wanted to sit there and keep talking to you hear everything that was on your mind, just listening and making you feel good but little boy was waiting to play and ride his bicycle. I bless you and your family with only good news and sooo many blessings and you are soo right your kids look adorable and sweet and they do need you so does your husband. I am so happy how you see life and appreciate we take things for granted so often or want more of this or of that. Kol ha Kavod for staying tune with Hashem. Just know that you are on the davenlist and we’ll just keep you on there for a long and happy life ad 120 xxx your formal MRC friend.

  8. Rachel, Thank you for sharing your story. God Bless you and your beautiful family!

  9. Baruch Dayan HaEmes. This beautiful woman was taken today. We will think of her always. She fought for so long through so many complications and in the end Hashem took her, and we don’t know why. I pray we will find out soon.

  10. B”H

    This is such sad news. Is there anything we can do to help her family?

    • I don’t know, a lot of people are visiting this post (over 5000 so far) so if someone knows of a fund for the family, please leave the information here.

  11. Ruth Adelsberg

    Baruch Dayan haEmes. How incredible that she was able to hang on for so long after her treatments. May Hashem comfort her beautiful family among all mourners.

  12. How painful to hear about this loss… It could have been any of us Jewishmoms.. Someone just like me… We don’t understand Hashem’s plans. Her family should be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem and know no more pain. They should have extra siyata dishmaya in dealing with this loss and continuing in the path of Torah, as Rachael wanted. I will put into practice her words of advice from her older interview: to try to give my kids my full attention when they need me and to play on the floor with them and to pick them up when they cry. What a great loss for all of am yisroel…

  13. Chana Jenny, maybe you could print out our messages and send them to the family?

    Her upbeat messages were so inspiring and provide us with practical advice with which we can honour her memory. May her husband and children be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yerushalayim. May her memory be for a blessing.

    Simcha

  14. Rachael was a very special person and she will be missed sorely by her friends and family. I was blessed to be her roommate in seminary and was witness to many of her wonderful, unique qualities. I have contact information for a few of her family members and I am willing to pass on messages if anyone would like to send them. my email is emuna (dot) diamond (at) gmail (dot) com. Besorot tovot.

  15. Also, I am told that Rachael herself said before she passed away that she wanted people to make an effort to do mitzvot in her merit/memory. She was always striving to do mitzvot and to grow closer to Hashem.

  16. Baruch Dayan HAemet. I am so sorry to read this sad news 🙁
    Just from this article and the picture you can see that she was a very special tzadeket.
    May HaShem comfort her family during this difficult time and send them only simchas and yeshuot

  17. Please reconsider Chemo-therapy ! Important testimony video:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppOdJxgl-6Q

Leave a Reply