Rebekah Bishop Prescott: An Unstoppable Woman of Incredible Faith

OKEECHOBEE — You may need tissues for this story.

Most of us in Okeechobee either know Rebekah or have heard her name, but to know her battle against incredible odds and her story of faith is what inspired me this week.

I asked her mother to help tell the story, so, much of what is written today is her mother’s story about her wonderful daughter.

Rebekah Bishop Prescott

Mom Janet Bishop writes, “Well where do I start? Her whole life she has been a sweet and well-behaved child. When she got sick the very first time she only said one thing to me, that would make you think why me?” She said, “Why do I have to get sick and why couldn’t it be some bad person?” Janet remembers telling Rebekah, “We don’t want anyone sick.” After that, Rebekah never once complained about going to the doctor, having tests or even undergoing chemotherapy. Rebekah worried about her parents having to “spend money on her” for treatments. Most recently, Rebekah was upset about interrupting her mother’s vacation.

Rebekah’s diagnosis came when she was a young teenager. At the age of 14, she faced her first chemotherapy treatment, on Valentine’s Day of 2005.

Mom reports that pediatric cancer treatments are very rigid; the child must remain hospitalized for much of his or her treatment. For Rebekah, that meant she would be admitted for five days, discharged to return on day 14 for readmission for yet another three days. This cycle repeated every 14 days for sixteen cycles.

During this treatment, Rebekah underwent hip replacement as well. Janet notes that she would lie with Rebekah who would cry and ask questions, only to regain her composure and apologize for crying and say, “sometimes you gotta bust loose.”

After the hip replacement, Rebekah was right back at it, ambling up and down the hospital hallways! Rebekah completed her treatment in December of 2005. We all hoped that was the end of the cancer journey, but for Rebekah it was only the beginning.

Rebekah continued routine checkups and it was three years to the day from the first diagnosis to the second one. This time cancer returned with a tumor discovered to be in her scapula. “Again, Rebekah took it in stride and did what she had to do,” says mom. “This time we took her to Boston to the Dana Farber Cancer Hospital for another opinion, on the advice of her doctor from Moffitt,” says mom. The doctor in Boston was the number one doctor in the world for his knowledge of Rebekah’s type of cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma.

Rebekah was going to try to have outpatient treatment in Florida, but when she had difficulties with chemotherapy, she was admitted to the hospital for the remainder of her treatments — two weeks there, one week at home and so on until the treatments were complete. In 2008 she again endured treatment from February to December.

Rebekah was finally free to be an average teenager! Again, we hoped this would be the end of the cancer journey for her, but that was not to be. In October 2015 Rebekah began to get headaches. At the time, doctors were not concerned about Rebekah’s headaches, as this type of cancer is not found in this location. Rebekah underwent an MRI which confirmed their worst fears, cancer had returned. Doctors found a tumor between her skull and the dura.

There was only one other person in the world who has ever had this type of cancer in the same location, a 24-year-old female from Africa. Now there were two! Rebekah is unique!! This time though, not only did Rebekah have to undergo chemotherapy, she also endured radiation treatments. March 2016 – more spots! Rebekah and her family travelled to The National Institute of Health in Bethesda, Md. to see the head researcher for Ewing’s Sarcoma, and his recommendation was to continue doing what she is doing so long as it is working. October 2016 – more spots! All of this and Rebekah still has never complained.

This is just the beginning of her inspirational story though. Rebekah hasn’t missed a beat on too many occasions. Through all of this, Rebekah has made hundreds of trips to and from the Tampa/St. Petersburg area. Her papa even purchased an Excursion, so Rebekah can travel in comfort to and from Tampa. Anyone who takes her, gets to take the vehicle.

She endured cancer for most of her teen years, and still managed to graduate with her class. She was asked by The Children’s Dream Fund in 2006 what dream she had. She wanted to travel to Alaska, but insisted that she take her whole family with her! She got her wish. Rebekah was also asked by her doctor to model for Stryker. She has spoken at American Cancer Society fundraising events, is on the Board of the Directors of Ride for the Fight. She was even named Prom Queen at Okeechobee High School. If that was not enough, she is a few classes from graduating with her bachelor’s degree in teaching at Indian River State College.

But, THIS is what she would want you to know about her: she has an unshakable faith.

Rebekah at the age of 26 speaks with other cancer patients, takes time to pray with and for them, and just touches people minute by minute with her award-winning smile and zest for life. Others who are undergoing cancer treatment can count on her to check in on them, visit with them in the hospital, and pray with them. Mom, Janet, gets frequent calls for prayer from Rebekah, not for her own needs, but for the needs of others.

“People call her their hero, their inspiration. I believe she has a special anointing on her life. She believes God is healing her or will,” says her mom.

Rebekah, a regular at bible studies and More 2 Life Church, truly believes the verse from Exodus 14:14, “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still!”

Mom finishes the story by saying, “Her attitude is just unbelievable to so many. I know she is my daughter and I often wonder what did I do so right to be blessed to be her mom! She has been blessed to marry the love of her life (Jared Prescott). It will be four years she has been married this May. They go together like peas and carrots. I once said to him “you are so good to Beck and I love you for it” and he said “she is mighty good to me!” A blessing and just what a mother wants to hear! I don’t think she really knows the impact she has on peoples’ lives. Even her doctors all adore her. I have witnessed them in tears over her. I know they appreciate her determination! Not because she is mine, but she is amazing.

“God has plans for her! Her determination is unreal.”

Editor’s note: If you would like to nominate an Okeechobee resident who inspires you to be featured in Inspiring Okeechobee, email kelsken@newszap.com.

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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