To win the fight against any form of cancer is amazing; to overcome it two or three times is extraordinary.
Anna Renault has turned cancer aside on seven occasions and is now battling the disease for an eighth time.
“It’s like ‘here we go again,’” said Renault, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in her right breast May of last year. “What can I do about it? I am a firm believer in the Lord and there’s got to be a reason for all of this…But I have certainly learned, even after my first cancer, if you can get through that you can get through just about anything.”
Renault said the first thing she asked her doctor last May was “what do we do about it and what are my chances?”
She has been down this road before and knows what it takes to win.
Since 1977, Renault has had some form of cancer every decade. Last Tuesday, she was informed by doctors that she had a lump on her other breast and is currently waiting on the prognosis.
“Fortunately, breast cancer survivorship is in the high 80s, if not 90 percent,” Renault said. “So, I figure I can do this. God willing, I’ll survive it and if not, I’m ready to go to heaven; that’s not a bad place to shoot for.”
Renault, 60, is currently in a research study at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore to see if she has a genetic cancer gene. She believes that the gene is present because her father and seven aunts and uncles all died of some form of cancer.
But through more than 30 years of fighting cancer, the former State Department employee has never wondered, why me?
“Why not me? Cancer can hit anybody,” Renault said. “Cancer has no discrimination whatsoever in terms of age, sex, race, or economical background. You can get it or you might not get it.”
Renault’s strength and perseverance has attracted the attention of many. In some cases, perfect strangers.
Last Friday, June 11, Ravens Nest 8 of Middle River, a nonprofit incorporated organization of the Chamber of Ravens Nests, held a Beer Pong tournament and fundraiser for Renault in Rosedale.
The fundraiser was put together to help Renault pay off some of her mounting medical bills.
Michael Sortino, President of Ravens Nest 8, first became aware of Renault’s situation last December. Gary Lurz, proprietor of Bill Bateman’s Express in Middle River, told him Renault’s story and before long the nest was organizing efforts to help.
“We decided that we would love to help her,” Sortino said. “[Our goal] is to raise as much money as we possibly can, through donations, to help Anna [Renault] pay her medical bills.”
Sortino said that except for a small amount to cover the rental of the hall, 100 percent of the proceeds will be given to Renault.
The fundraiser featured a beer pong tournament, money and liquor wheels and auction items. The Baltimore Mariners, of the American Indoor Football Association, donated an “Ultimate Fan Package” for biding that included two tickets, VIP parking, on field presence at warm ups and much more.
“As soon as Michael [Sortino] told me about it I was on it,” said Jim Hopkins, Mariners’ Director of game day Operations. “This was a no brainer.”
More than 100 people made an appearance at last week’s event for Renault. And it was apparent that she was extremely grateful.
“It was absolutely awesome,” Renault said. “Any number of people introduced themselves to me and said how glad they were to help.”
The guest of honor also used the time to educate at least two of the party goers on early detection, after the women stated they have put off mammograms because of the machines' discomfort.
Renault hopes she convinced them that the brief moment of uneasiness is better than the alternative.
A number of people have told Renault that she is a strong role model. Some with minor complaints have also told her that they now have no reason to grumble after hearing her story.
Renault also volunteers at the support group at Mercy to help others cope with the disease and treatments.
“Because I have been through it before, I can usually give some heads up, things to think about,” Renault said. “There are going to be days where you just cry, and that’s okay; some days you just have to. But there are certainly things to do to prevent your chin from dragging on the floor every day.”
Going through cancer more than half a dozen times has allowed Renault to provide advice to first timers. She says that a strong positive attitude is essential to beating cancer; it makes you feel better and may even help boost the immune system.
“I do everything I can,” Renault said. “I eat right, sleep well and try to keep that positive attitude going.”
Renault has one daughter and three grandchildren – ages 22, 21 and four. She enjoys reading, writing poetry and has recently taken up tai chi.
Renault is also an editorialist for The Avenue News. She can be reached at email@example.com.