Lisbon woman 'fought like a trooper' against rare disease

Family photo

The Brodeur family, from left, Julie, Renee, Gaeten and Madeleine.

LISBON — Renee Brodeur seldom let life get her down, even as a rare autoimmune disease ravaged her body and left her unable to walk across the room in the morning.

This past weekend, the beloved 26-year-old Lisbon woman who underwent a double lung transplant last summer lost her longtime battle. The Monmouth Academy graduate and one-time basketball standout was diagnosed in 2008 with Still's disease, a rare form of arthritis characterized by high, spiking fevers and debilitating pain.

"It's been a long, long road — I'll tell you that," said Brodeur's mother, Madeleine. "And she fought it like a trooper every day."

One in 100,000 people suffer from Still's disease. Brodeur had an even rarer adult onset version of the juvenile disease. As if facing the autoimmune disease wasn't hard enough, Brodeur was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension in 2010.

She was one of four people in the world with both conditions.

Brodeur passed away Saturday at the Cleveland Clinic in Cleveland. Madeleine Brodeur said her daughter had spent much of the past year in and out of the hospital following a double lung transplant that doctors considered her only hope of leading a normal life.

But Renee developed chronic rejection, an irreversible condition that led to her death.

"I just don't think those lungs ever really got along with Renee," her mother said. "There's never any guarantee. It just progressed. It was one thing after another."

Despite her setbacks, Madeleine Brodeur said her daughter never gave up hope and never lost her sense of humor. After her death, the family agreed to allow doctors to perform an autopsy in hopes of helping other patients suffering from the same condition.

For the family, however, peace comes in knowing they did everything they could to help Renee. From regular trips to the Cleveland clinic to organizing spaghetti dinners to help cover travel costs associated with having to be ready at a moment's notice when a set of lungs became available, the Brodeurs rallied behind Renee.

"We can't change our journey," Madeleine said. "You know, you always think it's going to happen to the neighbors, but life doesn't always work out that way."

Before falling ill, Renee worked for Legal Services for the Elderly in Augusta, attended Central Maine Community College and studied art at the University of Maine at Augusta. She loved watching sports with her father, Gaetan Brodeur, and continued playing basketball and tennis as long as she could.

Madeleine Brodeur said she hopes to be an advocate who can help other transplant patients and their families.

"I want to support other people who have transplants," Brodeur said. "It's all about keeping it personal for each person. You have to be there for them."

A memorial gathering will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Pinette & Lynch Funeral Home in Lewiston, with a celebration of Renee's life at 2 p.m.

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Richard Begin's picture

Yes of Course she was a trooper.

I never had the Opportunity to meet Renee/ However I know what it is like to be affected by an Autoimmune Disorder. I have Myas Athenia Gravis. From the Time of the first Symptons to the eventual Diagnosis by My Hero Dr Carl Robinson of St Mary's Medical Associates,

It was a Virtual Rollercoaster. I can fully understand the feelings that her Family must be enduring at the presnt time.

Although I did not know Renee I feel as though her and I were part of a Unique group of Folks who face life's uncertainty Hourly.
We are Brothers and Sisters in Arms.
Having beat Cancer Twice and then to be diagnosed with MG what a funny trick life serves up but

Fortunately for me after under going Grueling treatments that did not work. I caught a Break and My Medication has provided me a third chance at Lif

But Believe me it could Change on a dime

Please say a prayer of Renee and her Family

I know I am

Richard Begin


Renee was one of the sweetest people I ever knew in my life. A true friend and hilarious company. My heart goes out to her family during this difficult time. Renee's actions will forever make an impact on the rest of my life. She is an example to us all. xoxo

FRANK EARLEY's picture

I'm so sorry for your loss

I never new Renee, but from your description of her I wish I did.
I to suffer from a cronic debilitating disease so I know how easy it is to give up. Renee never gave up, that says a lot about her spirit. She kept her seance of humor, the best medicine you can have. Again I'm sorry for your loss, and good luck with your advocacy project in the future.


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