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Damn Cancer!

R'Achelle Phillips Has an Expletive to Give

Article by Katelyn Reed

Photography by Provided by R'Achelle Phillips

Originally published in Allen City Lifestyle

R’Achelle Phillips is no stranger to cancer. She’s lost friends and relatives to it. She’s fought it herself. Twice. 

Her first fight began 24 years ago when she squared up against thyroid cancer. She defeated it soundly and won herself two decades of remission. But in 2018 she was diagnosed again, this time with HER2-positive breast cancer. 2019 brought R'Achelle five surgeries, six rounds of chemotherapy, and a year’s worth of herceptin to keep the HER2-positive cells from spreading.

It was in the hospital one day that R’Achelle realized she wanted to help others fighting alongside her: “I was 82 pounds and sick as a dog and had no hair and was walking the hallways. I met so many people that were hurting and didn’t have insurance and were just in tough spots. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh. I want to help people.’” 

And that’s just what R’Achelle is doing. 

Her organization, Damn Cancer, gets its name from her grandmother, a woman who fought cancer herself. R’Achelle remembers her grandmother as someone who never cussed. She describes her as a woman who got up every day and said, “This is the day that the Lord has made. I will rejoice and be glad in it.” But in the midst of her fight against liver cancer – a fight she knew she wasn’t winning – R’Achelle’s grandmother let out a frustrated whisper under her breath: “Damn cancer.”

As R’Achelle puts it, “When I wanted to make something that was a legacy, I grabbed from Grandma to move forward.” 

Moving forward for R’Achelle looks a lot like helping others in any way she can. Damn Cancer has allowed families to go on one last vacation together, arranged for a boy to take his first flight, and even helped cover funeral costs. To pay for these expenses, R’Achelle has done everything from hosting yard sales to selling custom birdhouses built by her dad. She’s asked Facebook friends to donate unused airline miles and points. She’s even held shoe drives, gathering countless donated shoes and handing them off to Funds2Orgs, an organization that pays for shoes by the pound before delivering them to other countries for resale. The money she raises goes directly to those fighting cancer.

She does more than raise money, though. On a recent road trip with her mom, the pair stopped in Oklahoma in the middle of the night to talk with a mother of three who recently learned she has a tumor. R'Achelle was able to share about her own experiences and pray over the young mom. According to R’Achelle, “It’s not just about money and things. It’s about the support and the love and the community and the hugs. There are no words sometimes.” R'Achelle knows that as well as anyone, and sees it as her mission to use her experiences – and her survival – to bless others.

This month, R’Achelle is selling handmade pink pumpkins to raise money for Damn Cancer. You can pick one up at Phillips Home Improvements at 204 S. Ash Drive, Allen, TX 75002. For more information or to partner with Damn Cancer, email R’Achelle at damncancerfight@gmail.com.

  • R'Achelle amongst shoes donated to benefit Damn Cancer
  • A young cancer patient suits up for his first flight
  • Damn Cancer jetsetters