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Foundation 'flows' to southwest Minnesota

Janet Rachuy (second from right) stands with her family and thanks those who made her "River of Hope" a reality during a ceremony Friday night in Worthington.

WORTHINGTON -- To match the brand-new, quietly flowing stream in her yard, there was a moment of quiet for Janet Rachuy as her 'River of Hope' was revealed.

Worthington resident Rachuy has battled cancer for the past 12 years. But as she undergoes yet another round of chemotherapy, she will have the benefit of a small waterfall and pond close to home.

The Sioux Falls, S.D.,-based River of Hope Foundation selected Rachuy as a recipient of the rapid landscaping project after daughter Darla Janssen nominated her mom for the honor.

"My mom would be a good candidate for this project because she never thinks of herself, she is always concerned about others, willing to help them and not think of her needs," Janssen wrote in the nomination form.

Janssen learned of the foundation six weeks ago through a television program that features recipients.

"There was this lady who just moved into her home and there was no landscaping at all," she recalled. "Just (hearing) the word 'cancer,' after it's been in the family for this long, I had tears in my eyes and I thought of my mom."

Workers began creating the river and surrounding rock garden at 9 a.m. Thursday. Fewer than 48 hours later, it was ready to be unveiled during a Friday evening ceremony at Rachuy's home on Schaap Drive.

It was the foundation's first project outside of South Dakota.

"It was the right timing, I guess," explained executive director Nathan Heinert. "It's part of our long-term goal to start spreading out. We aim for a 60-mile radius from our office, and this still fit in that."

According to the foundation's website, "River of Hope Foundation is a non-profit organization that, with the help of individual donations and corporate sponsorships, creates tranquil and healing retreats at the residences of nominated cancer patients."

"I'm not used to being the receiver; I'm used to being the giver," Rachuy said, after taking a quiet, emotional moment to survey friends and family members gathered near the river. "It's more than I expected."

"Holy smokes," responded family friend Randy Heeringa. "It's quite elaborate, but it looks natural. It looks like it belongs."

Rachuy was diagnosed with cancer of the fallopian tube in 1998. After surgery and chemotherapy, she went into remission, only for doctors to find more cancer in 2007. She has been undergoing chemotherapy ever since, completing a treatment in Fairmont just hours before her river was unveiled.

While the waters are believed to give a sense of healing to cancer patients, Rachuy credits her community involvement and faith with helping her through the extended battle.

"It's my faith in God that has carried me through this," she said.

The program featuring Rachuy's reveal will be aired in late December or early January at 10:30 a.m. Sunday on Keloland Television.

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