Mesothelioma Survivor’s Son Documents Her Journey

Stories from Survivors

When Raeleen Minchuk Prokopetz was diagnosed with mesothelioma nearly a decade ago, her son Tyce was especially pivotal during her recovery and throughout her entire journey. Tyce, who is now 21 years old, has created a handmade book for his mother complete with pictures, stickers and handwriting highlighting Raeleen’s last 9 years, with Tyce at her side every step of the way.

Raeleen shared some of the passages her son wrote: “You have impacted so many people and not only in your own country but many others. You’re such a kind soul, you have so much compassion to help and put others before yourself and it doesn’t go unnoticed.” 

Tyce’s pride in his mother’s work is clear. Raeleen founded an organization in the Dominican Republic, leading it for 5 years. She was even awarded a humanitarian award for her work there.

A Personal Keepsake of Her Mesothelioma Journey

Titled “Nine Year Cancer Survivor: Our Journey,” Raeleen’s son Tyce filled this special keepsake with personal messages for her. It was clear when we spoke with Raeleen that the work her son put into this book really touches her.

Raeleen read from the book: “I can’t even think of the right words to say. There’s nothing that can explain the miracle that has been the past nine years. Literally, where did the time go?” 

Tyce’s pride in his mother’s strength as a mesothelioma survivor is also clear. He wrote about the early years after Raeleen’s diagnosis and how challenging it was, but how she persevered.

A page from a book created by Raeleen Minchuk Prokopetz's son
A page from a book created by Raeleen Minchuk Prokopetz’s son Tyce

“It’s unbelievable how strong you have been, how much stuff you have put up with when it comes to your health and having the confidence to do so,” Tyce wrote. “I admire that strength and how you always continue to push the bar. You are a fighter and a warrior.” 

Nearly all of the pictures Tyce shared in the book show them together. There are photos of them taking part in events, rallies, trips and just spending time together. 

A page from a book created by Raeleen Minchuk Prokopetz's son
A page from a book created by Raeleen Minchuk Prokopetz’s son Tyce

Raeleen read on: “We conquered and celebrated together and I watched you grow as a person. You educated yourself so much and chose your path with true intentions. I love you for this. I’m so blessed to have you in my life and to have you at my graduation. It was a huge achievement for me and I wouldn’t want anyone else but you there, Mom.”

At the end of the book, her son talks about Raeleen becoming a grandmother, something she wasn’t sure she’d ever get the chance to experience. Tyce also expressed how he wants to continue creating more memories with her that can be added to the book later. 

Impacting Young Lives in the Dominican Republic

Raeleen founded and managed a youth organization that built a baseball field. It also offered after school baseball, teaching them the sport and creating a chance to have fun with their peers.

Health issues prevented her from traveling to the Dominican Republic as often as she’d like, so she passed the mantle of leadership of the organization on to others. But she still visits as often as she can.

“The foundation is for anybody who wants to play from ages 5 to 17 years old,” Raeleen told us. “Those kids are all great, I still see them every time I go down there. They’re amazing and that was a beautiful 5-year run in my life.”Raeleen was diagnosed with peritoneal mesothelioma at 36 years old. After 2 extensive surgeries Raeleen is on the verge of celebrating her 10-year survival. It’s an accomplishment she credits in part to her children. She says her family inspired her fighting spirit for the past 9 years.

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