Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
The Heartbeat of Haverhill got a wonderful tip about an outstanding woman from a source all the way on Cape Cod. Renee Pelletier Costa and her husband lived and raised their four children here in Haverhill until she lost her battle with ovarian cancer last March. Renee was such an inspiration that the 5K Ovarian Cancer Walk in Osterville, MA has been named in the memory not of how she passed but for how she lived.
“Live Like Renee” 5K Walk & Family Fun Day
Saturday September 21 at 10:00 am,
Dowses Beach, Osterville, MA
So how did our own Renee make such an impression on Cape Cod’s Ribbons to Remember Foundation that holds this race? Well you might think it was because she grew up in Falmouth, but you’d be wrong. Renee connected with Ribbons to Remember via Facebook when its founder and president Diane Riche reached out to her. It was actually some time into their friendship that Diane realized Renee actually grew up on the Cape – so that part was just kind of coincidence.
When Diane Riche’s own mother passed away in 2010 from ovarian cancer, she started the Ribbons To Remember Foundation for ovarian cancer awareness. Diane subscribed to Google alerts for ovarian cancer stories and that is where she read about Renee and her Massachusetts Unsung Heroine award. Diane was just struck by Renee’s story and that’s it – they were friends, real friends, not just the Facebook kind! That is just how she was. Renee became a bright spot on Diane’s Facebook wall – where so many of Diane’s other “friends” posted about their bad days with traffic, work, burnt dinner, etc., Renee was always so positive and funny – never complaining even though she more than had the right!
And when one day Renee posted a photo of her daughter and herself, Diane knew that she wanted this to be the face of her organization. The picture spoke of family, courage, strength, and love. So she asked Renee if it was okay to use the photo and Renee couldn’t say “yes” fast enough. Her response was, “anything I can do to help.” Awareness of this dreadful disease was incredibly important to her – not for her sake but others.
Shortly before she passed Renee told Diane that she had accepted that she was dying but hurt for those that she was leaving and hoped she had done enough to leave her legacy. That was when Diane had the idea to name the walk after her – so that in this way she would live on to inspire others. Renee was so happy because she felt it was something that would be very positive for her loved ones. Renee’s family had coined the phrase “Live Like Renee” and the minute Diane heard that, she knew she’d found the new name for the walk. Diane vows that participants will “Live Like Renee” on her day – we will walk with hope, support others, enjoy every second of what we have, and concentrate on fun and family, because that is how Renee lived life.
Renee knew that although people have claimed that ovarian cancer is the silent cancer, that isn’t true. It isn’t silent, but it doesn’t shout its symptoms; it whispers them so you have to be on alert. Educating the public about the symptoms was a goal for Renee as it is for Ribbons to Remember Foundation. Both want everyone to know that the symptoms for ovarian cancer are prolonged (2 weeks or more) and include:
If you or someone you love complains of these symptoms for 2 weeks or more contact the doctor and have him or her look specifically at the possibility of ovarian cancer.
Renee touched a great many lives here in Haverhill, so it would be a living testament to her spirit to get as many people from the city as possible to spread the word about the race and the Foundation by sharing particulars on Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/events/387532541345400/?ref=br_tf),participating through donations of cash and raffle prizes (call Diane 508-827-1212 and tell her the Heartbeat of Haverhill sent you), and by walking for the Live Like Renee event. Go to the website or call Diane to register www.ribbonstoremember.org/events. The website is filled with information on ovarian cancer. And the fashion forward part of the Foundation is its signature color – teal; what a great bright color to wear to the walk. Ribbons to Remember is a Partner Member of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. They are a 501(c)(3) non-profit charity and donations are tax deductible to the extent allowed by law.
There is a line in The Wizard of Oz written by L. Frank Baum that I always thought was particularly profound where the Wizard says to the Tin Man:
“And remember, my sentimental friend, that a heart is not judged by how much you love, but by how much you are loved by others.”
Let us judge Renee’s heart generously. Haverhill, we can show how much we value the gracious heart and life that had been in our midst by supporting the “Live Like Renee 5K Walk and Family Fun Day”. And, through this race we can work toward the goal Renee wanted – we can increase the awareness of and education about ovarian cancer as we look for a cure. It will do your heart good!
©2013 by Alison Colby-Campbell. Photos courtesy of Diane Riche and Ribbons to Remember.