Courage to Come Back medical award recipient perseveres through life of chronic illness
Posted June 13, 2023 6:27 am.
Last Updated June 13, 2023 11:00 am.
Her life has been filled with constant illness, infections, and hospitalizations for strange ailments no one could pinpoint or understand.
But through it all, Rachel Goldman of New Westminster has never given up – handling her situation with grace, humour, and enormous respect from the professionals who treat her. Now, the 39-year-old is being recognized for it. Goldman is the 2023 Courage To Come Back Award recipient in the medical category.
She has battled Common Variable Immune Deficiency (CVID) from an early age.
“Throughout my whole childhood, I had a lot of illness,” Goldman explained. “Weird stuff. Infections in the lymph nodes, surrounding the appendix. I think they thought they had appendicitis more [times] than I can count, and it was never actually appendicitis. It was always something else of the lymph nodes.”
Goldman was in and out of care so much that she studied for her Grade 12 provincial exams in her hospital bed. And her chronic illness would continue into adulthood, complicating both her pregnancies, cutting short her dreams of being a rhythmic gymnast and a singer, and even costing her her dream job as a sports radio producer.
Even now, it separates her from her children for long periods of time.
“It’s really hard. It can be heartbreaking at times. Sometimes you feel like it’s never going to end but luckily it does,” she said. “And when we come back together it’s really special. But [life] is not what I thought it was going to be.”
Part of her strength comes from her choosing not to dwell on the negative.
“I’ve always been the type of person that looks ahead. I find it very difficult to look backwards.”
Still, she says something of a normal life is possible, even with chronic illness.
“I’ve learned resilience. I’ve learned determination. I’ve learned about mindfulness and motivation. All those things help me get up in the morning and I’m able to be grateful for the things that I have in the present and be able to have continuous hope in the future.”
She hopes her story gives others like her the hope to carry on.
“I really, really, really hope that others who are in my position will feel less alone and know it’s possible to come back.”
City News is a proud sponsor of the Coast Mental Health Courage to Come Back Awards, celebrating 25 years of raising critical funds for British Columbians living with mental illness.