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Rachelle Needs Your Help

My wife, Rachelle Ledbetter, has been suffering from pulmonary problems since she was a child. Eight years ago, she was diagnosed with severe Bronchiectasis. Her doctors have told us that her only option now is a life-saving lung transplant.

Updates (31)

May 19, 2019

June 1st, 2019- the date of my temporary medical relocation until November; 160 miles west from my family and beloved community of 33 years. My traveling companion? Sadie, comfort dog extraordinaire. Independent living for the first time in years. Amazingly, I’m strong enough to do this, as opposed to last year when I was forced to relocate due to heavy smoke from fires, the worst air pollution in the nation, and temperatures consistently above 100 degrees. I couldn’t be left alone during August and September until the fresh air of the central coast started permeating every ounce of my body, allowing me to breathe more comfortably than I had in years.
Since that 4 1/2 month healing retreat, I haven’t been hospitalized once since June 2018. A YEAR! The ER at Kaweah Delta has missed me as I use to visit every other month or so.
This summer I vow to gain further strength as I rent a cottage in Cayucos, through October, possibly November BEFORE I can’t breathe. However, rentals at the coast are out of our humble government retirement income. $2500/month + utilities! For a studio no less. Ouch! But as my lung transplant team affirms-it’s life or no life! There is no either/or.
This is why we desperately need your help. In addition to mounting medical bills of a 2 1/2 year (and counting) wait for a transplant, I now require $13,000 minimum for temporary housing. This is where you come in. Please consider a donation to my HelpHopeLive campaign so I can breathe easier this summer. You are such a blessing I am full of gratitude and love for your continued support.

November 15, 2018

#ICANBREATHE While Wildfires Surround Me
Every day this week I have received a notification about the air quality at Ash Mountain: “UNHEALTHY FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS”. I do not take these warnings lightly. My life depends on it. What is unhealthy for others, is hospitalization, or worse, death, for me. Each time I visit Casa de Kaweah (Kaweah Delta Hospital), my body becomes more and more resistant to IV antibiotics. We’re talking the big guns of antibiotics. As in, my body wouldn’t recognize friendly flora or ‘good bacteria” if it did a pirouette in front of me. When I was hospitalized in June, it was four days before the doctors could find one that I would respond to. That was the most horrific four days of not breathing that I can ever recall. Which means at some point, I’m out of treatment options. Thus, I must take drastic steps to avoid coming down with yet another bacterial infection.
So I am staying alive by living on the coast without my family, in a community I don’t know (until now!). Since August, I have lived in three separate Cayucos and Los Osos homes, provided by three incredibly special couples. If not for their gracious offers, I would definitely be looking out the windows at downtown Visalia parking lots, nurses checking in every hour poking and prodding, smells of sickness in the air, sounds of desperation and pain reaching my ears in spite of my music. Instead, I’m watching the sun rise and set; my nostrils breathing in fresh coastal air; listening to the ocean waves breaking or the stillness of the bay alive with sea birds; driving myself around for the first time in a year; taking impromptu walks with Sadie; enjoying dinner with friends both new and old; and basically functioning as the independent Rachelle I was pre lung transplant listing (two years ago 11/22/16). This has been an extraordinary experience accentuated by the gift of physical restoration.
Yet, as strong as I’m feeling now, I’ve made a very difficult decision to miss an event in Three Rivers that has been on my calendar for over a year. Oftentimes I have to bail on gatherings because I’m too sick, too fatigued, too fearful of viruses that love it when I show up. It’s the Dynamic Lives of twelve ‘beloved residents’ who will share their life stories. And somehow I was chosen to be among this illustrious group of people honored tomorrow, Sunday, at St. Anthony’s Retreat. In its second year, these stories will eventually be recorded in a book will be forever immortalized in the archives of Three Rivers and Tulare County Libraries.
Even though I feel healthy, and have a dress that will rock the ‘aging’ aspect with a planned, edgy new haircut, and my military boots (I love a good presentation!), I have vacillated for two days on returning to Three Rivers for this once in a lifetime experience. Hoping that it would rain and the smoke would finally be gone. The strong willed, “I am Woman, I can do anything” Rachelle of the past versus the “are you kidding me you frail thing, you want to end up at the Casa again?”
As heartbreaking as this decision has been for me, and with two more devastating fires burning both north and south in California, I must stay where I can breathe. The “UNHEALTHY AIR FOR SENSITIVE GROUPS” means, stay away and don’t return until it rains.

Photo Galleries (3)

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June 7, 2019

We love you Rachelle! Happy birthday!!!! Here’s to many more, breathing with ease

Kathleen Seligman

March 13, 2017

We'll be thinking of you and praying for you each and every day. Keep the faith!

Jim and Peggy Entz

March 11, 2017

Rachelle, we are here for you! My heart is glad to help you. Your friends from Lemon Cove.

Teri and Ralph Blaser

January 14, 2017

One of my favorite sounds is to hear your unique laughter (however subtle) in the back during church. You are distinct, transparent and so endearing to my family and to our church family. You have encouraged our growth with your childlike fervor to grow in your faith. Our hearts are full with love and hope for your healthy future.

Robin Castro