Renee & Livia’s Story
Renee Hardman and Livia Dodds were sisters who died of ovarian cancer six months apart. Renee was three months short of her forty-fifth birthday, and Livia was forty-two. In January of 1991, Renee (39) was diagnosed with stage III-C ovarian cancer. Soon after, her sister Karen (41), who had a history of ovarian cysts, decided to have her ovaries removed. Livia (36) did not receive any preventive care. Two years into Renee’s illness, Livia was diagnosed with breast cancer, and one year later, she was diagnosed with stage III-C ovarian cancer. Her only symptom had been a bad period.
Each sister dealt with her illness in her own way. Renee chose to keep abreast of all the research about ovarian cancer, and she fought her illness with the most aggressive treatments available at the time, including several major surgeries, countless rounds of chemo, a stem cell transplant, radiation, and much determination and courage. She was never in denial about her prognosis but she wanted to give herself the best chance of survival. When she stopped all treatments, it was a conscious decision based on choosing quality of life instead of prolonging it with treatments that sapped her energy. She died peacefully at home on the morning of June 10, 1996 with her partner at her side.
Although Livia chose a more conventional approach to her treatment, she was as determined as her sister to give herself the best chance of survival. Both were very brave. Livia died at home on December 26th, 1996 surrounded by her loved ones. Renee survived for five and a half years, Livia for two. Her tragedy is that with better preventive care she might still be alive. Renee might be too if she had understood earlier the significance of a family history of breast and ovarian cancer. This is why their mother, Antonia Hardman, and Renee’s partner, Christiane Fiardo, have chosen to donate the monies raised by the Renee and Livia Memorial Fund to The Lynne Cohen Preventive Care Clinic for Women’s Cancers at USC/Norris Cancer Center in Los Angeles.