RQ The Label: The moment a young consultant was given a shocking ‘rare’ autoimmune disease


A young consultant who started her own fashion label inspired by 90s vintage clothing has turned over more than $100,000 in two years despite being diagnosed with a ‘life-threatening’ autoimmune disease.

Rachel Quach, from Canberra, launched RQ The Label at the age of 24 while working full-time in risk consulting.

A year later during Covid lockdowns, doctors told Rachel she had a rare condition called aplastic anemi where the body stops producing white blood cells and the immune system starts attacking itself. 

The now 27-year-old recalls feeling fatigued, struggled exercising and experienced headaches and bruising in the weeks prior to the devastating news but was not sure why.

‘I just thought I was tired or unfit, the symptoms were really mild,’ Rachel told FEMAIL. 

While spending three months recovering from treatment in hospital, she continued working on the label by organising a photoshoot and keeping up with customer orders.  

Rachel Quach (pictured), from Canberra, Australia, launched RQ The Label in August 2020 while working full-time. A year later in during Covid lockdowns, Rachel received the devastating news from doctors she has a ‘rare’ serious condition called aplastic anemi

The now 27-year-old recalls feeling fatigued, struggled exercising and experienced headaches and bruising in the weeks prior to the prognosis but was not sure why. 'I just thought I was tired or unfit, the symptoms were really mild,' Rachel told FEMAIL

The now 27-year-old recalls feeling fatigued, struggled exercising and experienced headaches and bruising in the weeks prior to the prognosis but was not sure why. ‘I just thought I was tired or unfit, the symptoms were really mild,’ Rachel told FEMAIL

Rachel is a self-taught fashion designer with a background in business and marketing who says she's more passionate about her 'side hustle' rather than her corporate role (pictured: model wearing RQ The Label corset top)

Rachel is a self-taught fashion designer with a background in business and marketing who says she’s more passionate about her ‘side hustle’ rather than her corporate role (pictured: model wearing RQ The Label corset top)

Rachel is a self-taught fashion designer with a background in business and marketing who says she’s more  passionate about her ‘side hustle’ rather than her corporate role. 

She invested between $40,000-$50,000 to start the business venture and has always adored vintage fashion. 

At the moment the brand itself has launched a range of corsets inspired by ’90s shapes and fabrics’.

Rachel was sent to the emergency room where she waited hours before being taken to a ward with a sign above it that read 'cancer services'. 'I couldn't believe it, then a specialist told me I likely either have leukaemia or an autoimmune disease,' she said

Rachel was sent to the emergency room where she waited hours before being taken to a ward with a sign above it that read ‘cancer services’. ‘I couldn’t believe it, then a specialist told me I likely either have leukaemia or an autoimmune disease,’ she said

In early August 2021 Rachel’s GP took a blood test then called her a few days later to discuss the results, leaving her feeling concerned. 

‘I drove to the doctor and the headache started coming back again, then he sent me straight to the emergency room where I waited for a few hours to see a doctor,’ she said. 

‘I couldn’t process anything, at first I was in denial that it was anything serious.’ 

At around 2am the doctor asked a few basic questions then took her to another section if the ward with a sign above it that read ‘cancer services’.

‘I couldn’t believe it, then a specialist told me I likely either have leukaemia or an autoimmune disease,’ she said. 

The cause of the disease remains unknown and Rachel doesn’t have any family history of cancer, but believes stress was a factor. 

‘I’ve always been a stressed person; I always try put in 100 per cent into my work, my business and try to succeed,’ she said. 

Rachel was then put on a treatment for four days known as anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG), which she said 'suppresses immune system' so it doesn't continue to attack the white blood cells

Rachel was then put on a treatment for four days known as anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG), which she said ‘suppresses immune system’ so it doesn’t continue to attack the white blood cells 

What causes autoimmune disease? 

An autoimmune disease is a condition in which your immune system mistakenly attacks your body

The immune system normally guards against germs like bacteria and viruses. When it senses these foreign invaders, it sends out an army of fighter cells to attack them

Normally, the immune system can tell the difference between foreign cells and your own cells

In an autoimmune disease, the immune system mistakes part of your body, like your joints or skin, as foreign. It releases proteins called autoantibodies that attack healthy cells

Doctors don’t know exactly what causes the immune-system misfire. Yet some people are more likely to get an autoimmune disease than others

Source: Healthline 

Rachel was then put on a treatment for four days known as anti-thymocyte globulin (ATG), which she said ‘suppresses immune system’ so it doesn’t continue to attack  the white blood cells.

‘My body quickly felt the effects of the treatment – I couldn’t walk a few steps without feeling out of breath,’ she said, then spent three months in hospital recovering. 

‘It was confronting because I was in the ward with leukaemia patient and I was the youngest one there. 

‘The worst part was not knowing when or if I would recover.’ 

Rachel’s boyfriend was managing orders while she was in hospital, and thankfully her body has recovered well but remains on medication until at least February 2023.  

Rachel's boyfriend was managing orders while she was in hospital, and thankfully her body has recovered well but remains on medication until at least February 2023

Rachel’s boyfriend was managing orders while she was in hospital, and thankfully her body has recovered well but remains on medication until at least February 2023

While she maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle before, Rachel ensures she exercises daily, gets eight hours of sleep a night and eats organic food. And her business is thriving, with another collection soon to launch online

While she maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle before, Rachel ensures she exercises daily, gets eight hours of sleep a night and eats organic food. And her business is thriving, with another collection soon to launch online

The experience has taught Rachel to prioritise both her mental and physical health and gradually over time she’s been able to regain her strength. 

‘I didn’t realise how weak I had become until I left the hospital and felt tired walking down the stairs – I guess lying in bed for three months will do that to you,’ she said. 

While she maintained a fit and healthy lifestyle before, Rachel ensures she exercises daily, gets eight hours of sleep a night and eats organic food. 

And her business is thriving, with another collection soon to launch online. 

The brand has also gained a strong Instagram following of more than 13,000 people.

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