Martineau decides against bone marrow transplant

Diane Crocker
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Corner Brook woman hoping the odds are in her favour

Renee Martineau

When Renée Martineau met with a transplant specialist from Halifax earlier this month in St. John’s she thought she’d be learning more about the bone marrow transplant she’d be getting.

Instead, Martineau, who is originally from Corner Brook, was shocked to find out that she actually had a choice of whether to even go through with the transplant.

After hearing the transplant described in great detail, she said “there’s nothing that persuaded me to do it right now.”

Martineau, 23, was diagnosed with blood cancer, a rare form of leukemia, this past fall. Following the diagnosis she spent six weeks in hospital in St. John’s and underwent chemotherapy.

In December, she learned the cancer was in remission, but the search for a bone marrow donor began.

The search was successful in early February, and a March 5 appointment in St. John’s was set up with a specialist from Halifax.

Martineau was told with the chemo she’d undergone there was a 40 to 50 per cent chance that she was cured already, and a transplant would only give her another 10 per cent chance of the cancer not returning.

So Martineau decided to take the “half-and-half” chance that she’s cured.

“The way he put it was it was not necessary to put my body through all that torture,” she said. “If it comes back it would be necessary, but not right now.”

She said if the cancer were to return it would likely occur within one to two years.

“If it comes back, it’s harder to get in remission and the transplant will be necessary because the chemo isn’t enough for a cure.”

Martineau finished up her chemo treatments a few weeks ago and she’ll be monitored through blood checks every few weeks. After five years without a sign of the disease, she’ll be declared cancer free.

Martineau has maintained a positive attitude throughout her illness, which she attributes to helping her beat cancer.

“There’s no point on dwelling on it,” she said. “It’s not going to fix anything.”

Now she’s focused on her recovery and moving on.

“I’m feeling pretty good,” she said. “I’ve been going to the gym now for two or three weeks and getting back to normal.”

Still, she’ll be a little cautious.

“There’s no question right away now, if something is out of the ordinary, it’s right to the hospital.”

While she won’t have to travel for the transplant, it will still take her some time before she is able to return to work. She said being able to rely on the financial support she and partner Laura Brake have received over the last few months has been a great help and took away a lot of worries.

“It’s been great for sure and we couldn’t be more thankful.”

Organizations: Halifax

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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Recent comments

  • Just Sayin'
    March 27, 2014 - 10:19

    You're a brave person, Rene, and I agree with your decision. I also give credit to your doctors, who respected your decision and your right to freedom of choice.

  • Open-minded
    March 25, 2014 - 09:50

    I'm not a crazy hippie, but I do believe there are some very effective alternative medicines. In case you haven't been made aware, cannabis oil can cure cancer. You don't smoke it or get high with it and there is a ton of supporting evidence. If you are open-minded enough, you should just do a little research for yourself, a good place to start is with RSO; Rick Simpson Oil. All the best to you, you're beautiful and I hope you kick this cancer in the A%S! :)

  • Jack
    March 25, 2014 - 06:34

    Even though I'm one or Renee Martineau's close friends, due to her bad decision to go against any form of cancer treatment that will improve her odds of survival and cure, I'm really disappointed and a little upset at her for not going through additional treatment that will improve her chances of being cured and surviving this dreadful cancer and here's why. Last year, my mom found out that she tested positive for Stage 3 lung cancer. Doctors said that she had six months to live. Due to her great attitude, willingness to undergo treatment, and changes to her lifestyle, she is still alive and her cancer is going through remission, meaning she will live much longer. Renee, no amount of cancer treatment will give you 100% chance of being cured, but as my mom learned, every single treatment you take helps. Friend or not, that's why I have to play the "Devil's Advocate" in going against her decision to not undergo a bone marrow transplant and wasting doctor's efforts to find a match.

    • Renee
      August 26, 2014 - 01:10

      Jack, I am not sure who you even are but you are making false statements. I did not waste the time of any doctor's. They have to automatically search for a donor regardless. The chemo has worked for now but I may need a transplant any day if the cancer returns. It is better to have a donor found. I was always under the impression that I was getting a transplant, that this was an automatic component to my treatment. Once I consulted with the specialist from Halifax, I learned that I was in remission and had a 50% chance at a cure. The only positive attribute that was laid out in regards to the treatment was that it would give me a 60% chance at a cure. I also learned that there was a 30% chance that the transplant could kill me. I started to re-think the procedure. I would have had extra chemo meds,as well as three days of total body irradiation, which could have led to serious damage to major organs. I was told that I may have never been able to work again. There was a very nasty list of side effects including Host Vs Graft Disease and possible long term effects. And I WAS willing to undergo treatment. I DID. I had a full week of chemotherapy. 24/7. I miraculously went into remission, IMMEDIATELY. This is uncommon. I also continued with consolidation chemo treatments for weeks thereafter. So before you make false statements on a public news source, you should probably do a little bit of research or at least discuss your concerns with myself (your so called good friend). Thanks