Reneisha loses courageous fight with breast cancer
MONTEGO BAY, St James — Reneisha Townsend fought a good fight against stage-four breast cancer.
Unfortunately, Townsend passed away on November 23, a year after her battle with the aggressive cancer began. She was 37 years old.
Chiantia, Townsend’s younger sister who contacted the Jamaica Observer to appeal for monetary help towards her treatment, told the Sunday Observer that her sister died peacefully at Hope Institute. The now-deceased cancer patient was transferred days before from Kingston Public Hospital (KPH) after her family alleged that she was being neglected.
“They moved her from the KPH the weekend after the article was published, and she was at Hope. The family went to visit her on Sunday and we got a call Monday evening to say that the doctor would like a family meeting with her sisters and parents,” Chiantia explained.
She told the Sunday Observer that it was during the meeting that the doctors confirmed their worst nightmare — Townsend was too weak to undergo additional cancer treatments.
“The cancer had spread to the main organs like the lungs, liver, and kidneys, so she was to get treatment from India. A doctor from the Hope Institute told us about that treatment and that she could recommend her for it, and she was to start the radiation therapy as well, but she was too weak to get any of the treatments,” said Chiantia.
“The breast was constantly bleeding, so the doctor said they were not sure if it was one of the veins or arteries that the tumour was eating away, but the bleeding was non-stop. So we went into the meeting and they told us that she was too weak to get the treatments, so all they could offer was the best care and comfort at that point,” she added.
Before that meeting, the family was optimistic that Townsend would have received Herceptin. According to Breastcancer.org, Herceptin is a HER2 inhibitor targeted therapy. Herceptin works against HER2-positive breast cancers by blocking the ability of the cancer cells to receive chemical signals that tell the cells to grow.
HER2-positive is a breast cancer that tests positive for a protein called human epidermal growth factor receptor 2.
Though devastated by this news, Chiantia said her family rallied around their loved one to make the best of their time left together. They, however, did not know that their time would end 48 hours later.
“She was asking to come home, but the doctor said he couldn’t allow that, so she asked our mother to get our father because she wanted to see him that Thursday evening. My father went to visit her and they left in the night. About 11 o’clock, we got a call from the hospital that she passed,” Chiantia told the Sunday Observer.
While her family is disheartened by Townsend’s untimely death, Chiantia said they are now focused on lending their support to her three daughters. Townsend’s 17-year-old daughter is reportedly devastated, as the loss of her mother has made her an orphan. The woman also died leaving a two-year-old, who Chiantia told the Sunday Observer is “constantly crying for her mommy”.
“Her eldest daughter is not taking it well; we had to stop her from school for a while. We got a letter from a doctor to bring to the school for her to get counselling,” said Chiantia.
“We are going to assist her as best as we can. We have our families as well, but we have to come together and assist her because her father also passed away. Every day she says that she has nothing living for now because she lost her mother and father,” she added.