Nantucket Portraits

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Humans of Nantucket

Rachel Fabiszak

“I was diagnosed with stage four cancer. So: coming to grips with knowing that your life has a finite number of years left in it, possibly only one to two years. It makes you realign your values. Also makes you appreciate everything around you so much more.

"Along with that comes the realization that you’re not in this struggle alone, coming from such a tight knit community, and that there are a lot of people that care about you. People that even were casual acquaintances are now really good friends that support you. It’s really a fantastic thing--it makes it a lot easier, it really does, because it’s tough to wrap your head around it. Part of my struggle of course is my finances which is now out the window. I have to survive off of very little. My friend gives me baskets full of vegetables to help me get good nutrition.

"I’ve had people leave things at the door even when I’m not home. I go to the doctors and come back and there are bottles of Bolt House Farm juices there. I know I had mentioned that to somebody, that I liked them.

"I’ve never been a person that really took a lot of notice of statistics. The statistics that I’ve been presented with I feel are just another challenge: to show that they are just numbers, and I am going to keep a positive attitude and surpass that by far. I have been through eleven forty-eight hours of infusions already, so I have done about five hundred hours of poison being pumped into my body. The only way to go at that, in my eyes, is a positive attitude, proper nutrition, and really load up on vitamins through vegetables and fruit before you go into an infusion. If you feel tired just rest.

"I am so happy that they do everything on the island here--it makes it easier.  Thank you to Nantucket Cottage Hospital and the people that are caring for me there. I think that they are top notch and they are doing an amazing job. I really feel I have a whole team getting me through this as well as the community.

"I don’t think I am going anywhere very soon; I got shit to do so I’m going to be here.

"I’m grateful--it makes you grateful. Every day when I wake up in the morning the first thing I do every day I have a ritual I look at Natasha’s picture, and looking at that picture and knowing that she only had twenty years in this world and was lost at the prime of her life really humbles anybody. After seeing that, how can you not be thankful for every day? I have her Ribbon--I keep it on my jacket until it’s my time. I think of her every day and I didn’t know her that well.

"Another reason why I know I’m a fighter. Caitlin Marcoux is my blood so coming from good stock and her being a survivor it makes me a fighter.

"Bad part about chemo is it’s perpetual. There is no plan to stop because of the stage I’m in. It’s going to be something that I do until I’m not here anymore as far as what they say. They say I will never be cancer free.

"The person that I am says 'don’t tell me I can’t beat this--haven’t you heard of miracles?' I had a spot on my liver that was 21 mm long and after eight infusions it was down to 10 mm and the last CAT Scan I just had it is now gone. Liver is in progress, my lymph nodes are back to normal size--they were twice the size they were supposed to be. My job now is fighting and being healthy.”

“If you could give one piece of advice what would it be?”

“To love the people around you and the people that you’re close to. Let them know every day that you love them. And don’t sweat the small stuff--it really doesn’t matter at the end of the day.”

Subject: Robert Souza and Huckleberry
Location: Nantucket Home
Date: March 9th, 2015

Humans of Nantucket, modeled after the famous Humans of New York, intends to portray various members of the island community who share with us their lives, dreams and hopes.

Photographer and island native Rachel Fabiszak owns Rachel Fabiszak Photography.