HUNTSVILLE, Alabama – The sun is shining but the temperatures are almost freezing as Rachel Beard sets out for her morning walk.
Bundled up against the cold, a cup of coffee in one hand and a large neon poster in the other, she stops a few steps from her house.
This almost daily routine has nothing to do with exercise and everything to do with encouragement. Today written in sharpie on glossy paper are the words “I am grateful for you.”
As the drivers pass, the 37-year-old holds up the sign and gives a quick sign with her gloved hands. Many honk briefly in recognition. Most slow down, smiles visible through their windshields.
Rachel has become a familiar sight in this part of South Huntsville, having made her first sign two months ago.
“I just woke up one morning, I was in a really good mood, and just wanted to sort of broadcast it and maybe brighten up someone’s day… I really liked it. It was as much for me as it was for them.
Messages vary. Someday she might write, “Be the best in yourself.” The next one: “It’s good not to agree. “
“They don’t know I have cancer. I don’t know anything about them, but it’s like that second of connection, where it’s like a positive moment in the day, ”she says.
He is undoubtedly someone looking on the bright side, as those who have followed his journey through the #TeamRayRay Facebook page know.
“I think that’s what people see on my social media. Oh, you are so positive. I am positive. Not all the time. I am human. I’m still living stuff. It’s good to have dark ones. It’s good for me some days that I don’t want to stand out here.
At age 20, Rachel was diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma.
At 35, she learned she still had cancer. This time, ovary.
It was two years ago.
“I did several rounds of chemo and tried different medications. Now we’re on the 5th different drug to try and see if that helps. She laughed, adding, “Fifth time the charm, isn’t it?”
In the meantime, she cheers on everyone who walks by, from high school kids rolling down the windows and shouting hello to tired adults leaving for another day of work.
And make his corner of the world a little brighter.
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