In leading non-profit organizations and dedicating her life to helping those in need, Rachel Hurst was able to find new growth after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer.
In 2012, Hurst underwent surgery to remove what, at the time, was called a benign mass on her foot; the mass was then diagnosed to be sarcoma.
“I wasn’t expecting it. I was pretty shocked and took a while to process the news. It was pretty scary and it’s still a little bit scary,” Hurst said.
Hurst was born and raised in Northwest Indiana and was living in Louisville, Kentucky at the time of her diagnosis.
“I had moved to Kentucky from grad school and lived in western Kentucky, then eventually to Louisville. So I was far away from my family,” Hurst remembered.
She’s worked for domestic violence centers, civil rights organizations, and has been an advocate on issues with youth and adult homelessness and affordable housing. Hurst, who was and still is a very independent person, found her journey with cancer to be challenging when it came to asking for help, but she also found new growth.
“I didn’t have a built-in support network to help me. Honestly, one of the biggest challenges was that I had a dog while I was on crutches and it was really hard to take him outside,” Hurst said. “Really practical things are really challenging when you don't have that family support network to come and do those things for you.”
To keep her spirits up, Hurst remained active in her crossfit class after surgery and through radiation. She said it empowered her and surrounded her with a supportive community. Hurst also credits the help of her family, friends, local support groups, and local programs for providing support in her time of need.
“Luckily, in Louisville we had a program called a ‘Time Bank,’ and I connected with that and made some great friends. They became a great support network for me during that time and then afterwards,” Hurst said.
“What’s great about the Time Bank is it’s not charity,” she explained. “It’s not someone giving to you because you're in bad shape. You donate the services you can donate and you earn hours, then you can use those hours for someone to take your dog on a walk or mow the lawn or whatever else you need. It’s a great community and I really love being apart of it.”
Currently, Rachel is living back in the Region and is working for another non-profit organization.
“I thought about how great it would be to take some of what I’ve learned, be able to gain experience in another place, and put it to work up here in a place that I really love and felt tied to,” she said. “I was really excited to have the opportunity up here to work with a nonprofit and give back to the community I grew up in and who helped create me.”