Thursday, December 5, 2013
Raelyn Reny had an 18-month-old son, Parker, and her seventh anniversary with husband Eric Reny would have been Sunday.
Raelyn Reny had warm blue eyes, an infectious smile and a positive outlook that inspired those around her.
Mrs. Reny was a fighter, and her tenacious spirit helped her through a 17-year battle with cancer, during which time she lived life to its fullest, her family and friends said.
She died Wednesday at age 32.
Mrs. Reny was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma when she was 15. She received chemotherapy and other treatments, two bone marrow transplants and two hip replacements. She was in remission for the past six years.
''It was very hard to see her go through that,'' said Shelly Trafford of Scarborough, who accompanied her sister on every trip to Boston for treatment. ''It was inspiring to see her fight so hard. Most people would give up, but she never did. She never gave it a thought. Those words were not part of her vocabulary.''
Mrs. Reny recently became ill and had a severe infection in her gallbladder, which caused bacteria to spread to her bloodstream.
''She was fine on Monday. It happened so fast,'' said her identical twin sister, Robyn Stanley of South Portland. ''We have prepared for the worst several times, but none of us were prepared for this. I can't even describe how close we were. We talked 10 to 20 times a day. I don't know how to live without her.''
Mrs. Reny, who lived next door to Stanley, shared more than a twin-sister bond with her. Stanley helped fulfill her sister's dream of becoming a mother by being a surrogate for Parker, Mrs. Reny's 18-month-old son. Years of chemotherapy and treatments left Mrs. Reny unable to have children, Stanley said.
''When she called me to say she could never have children, I said God gave you a twin for a reason. I never questioned that some day she would be a mother,'' Stanley said. ''She was there throughout the pregnancy and went to every doctor's appointment. We decided to have Parker on Valentine's Day. (Raelyn's husband) Eric and Raelyn were both in the operating room. They were the first to know the sex of the baby. They were with me the entire time.
''When Raelyn became a mom, she had that glow that never went away.''
The Renys would have celebrated their seventh wedding anniversary on Sunday. Friends said they brought out the best in each other and had a romantic relationship fueled by notes they left for each other around the house.
They also took special trips to recognize moments in their relationship. For their one-year anniversary, Eric Reny picked up his wife in a limo and took her to Ram Island Farm in Cape Elizabeth, the place where they were married.
''They had a relationship like I have never seen before,'' Stanley said. ''She was sick when they met. He knew the risk he was taking. She was his world.''
Mrs. Reny ran a day-care center at her South Portland home called Little Treasures, which she opened in April. Stanley said she was a natural at taking care of children and had a significant impact on many young lives.
''She loved to watch the kids grow,'' her sister said. ''She loved to take care of people. After her first bone marrow transplant, in 1998, she moved into my aunt's house and took care of my cousin, who was a quadriplegic. She was a big part of his life. He was a big part of hers.''
Mrs. Reny enjoyed going to the family camp at Sebago Lake and looked forward to Sunday night dinners at her parents' home. Every Thursday night, Mrs. Reny, her sisters and a handful of close friends got together.
''We drank wine, watched reality shows and gossiped,'' Trafford said. ''We had fun. Sometimes, we laughed so hard that we would cry.''
Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: