Taking on the fight of her life, Renee Downman has her devoted beside beside her all the way.
Taking on the fight of her life, Renee Downman has her devoted beside beside her all the way. Bambi Wixon

The strength of a mother’s love

RENEE and Sharon Downman know just how far motherly love can stretch.

When a lump on 21-year-old Renee's hand was found to be cancerous in mid-January this year, it was her mother Sharon who was by her side.

As assistant director of nursing at Sunshine Coast Private Hospital, Sharon was used to caring for people, but said she put work on hold to care for her most important patient; her daughter.

"After I realised she was so sick, I went and negotiated and now I'm on leave without pay at the moment," she said.

"If you're going to make a decision, you can always get a new job, but you can never replace your child."

When the former Gympie girl's lump was diagnosed as rare cancer Ewing's sarcoma, Sharon said life became "an absolute whirlwind of chaos".

Renee had to put the last semester of her double degree in human services and education on hold and stop instructing her Zumba and dance classes.

As a young adult Renee had to lean on her mum for physical and mental support.

"She's been very strong and always supportive," Renee said.

"If I'm having a bad day, she's always saying things to help.

"Mum is my rely-on-person; more of a best friend, than mum."

Renee lives with her mother and younger sister Steph in Buderim.

Her first round of chemotherapy resulted in drastic complications, but soon Renee will be starting chemotherapy again on a reduced dose. She has been told by experts that the year-long treatment has an 80% success rate.

"She reacted really badly to the first round of chemotherapy; I basically lived at the Wesley for two weeks," Sharon said.

"You never stop being mum just because they become adults."

Sharon says her biggest fear is that she can't take it away from her daughter.

"I've never been so scared, even as a nurse," she said.

"You can't turn around and tell them it's going to be okay.

"When it's cancer you might be wrong. You don't want to be wrong, but you can't actually say that."

And Renee is very aware of the support her mother is giving her.

"I always say thank you for all the things she is doing for me," Renee said.

"I don't know if I'd be so happy all the way through it without her."

Sharon and Renee are looking forward to this Mother's Day, both saying Renee will be well enough for them to go out and spend time together.

Renee said: "We only take every day as it comes. You gotta smile when you can."

Fundraiser Ball

  • Saturday June 1, 6.30-11.30pm
  • Beerwah Community Hall
  • Evening Dress and Black Tie
  • $55 per head
  • Visit http://www.reneesfight.org for tickets
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