This woman bravely documented her fight with breast cancerPaige Turner
In 2009, Renee Heidtman was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer. Rather than leap to chemo and radiation, Renee opted for several different natural therapies in the hopes of beating cancer on her own terms. She practiced yoga daily and met with a large support network of therapists and counselors in an effort to stay active and independent.
In fall of 2012, after trying nearly everything to stop cancer’s progression, she agreed to do chemo. But it was too late.
Doctors informed her she was terminal and was placed into hospice.
What follows in the National Geographic documentary I Am Dying, an intimate look at Renee’s last days and the challenges cancer brings to an entire family.
To help Renee fulfill her wish to die at home, her sister Rita moved in with her. She became Renee’s full-time caregiver. Together, the sisters take each day as it comes, sharing both the good and bad of the present and past. They recount past boyfriends, summers at their grandparents, and how they stood up for one another growing up.
But everything’s not perfect. Daughter Rita and mom Viviane struggle with their own ways of coping with Renee’s condition and how best to both care for themselves and Renee.
On April 11, 2013, Renee passed away at home surrounded by her beloved family, just as she wished.
Renee took unconventional paths to treating her cancer which ultimately cost her her life, but she live and died on her own terms. What was right for her will, obviously, not be right for everyone.
Tell us what you think of Renee’s choice or share your experiences as a fighter or supporter in the comments below.