Cancer’s cruel blow

Renaye Watson-O'Neil with her mum Mandy Hansen and her dog Lila. Picture: Jon Hewson d411094
Renaye Watson-O'Neil with her mum Mandy Hansen and her dog Lila. Picture: Jon Hewson d411094

Renaye Watson-O’Neil is beautiful, charming and received a diagnosis of fibrolamellar hepatocellular carcinoma and lymphoma a week after her 17th birthday.

The cancer is extremely rare, with only 200 people diagnosed globally each year.

‘To go from living life like any normal teenager, going out, partying with friends, leaving my homework to the last minute and then being diagnosed with a life-threatening cancer is definitely the worst thing that has ever happened to me,’ Renaye said.

‘I felt like I was being punished. I always questioned why me, why has this happened to me, what did I ever do so wrong? I will never know the answer to why I got such a cruel type of cancer that no one really knows about or how to treat.

‘When I was a little girl, I never would have expected my life to turn out like this or not being able to have the chance of living a long, happy life until I’m old and wrinkly.’

After her diagnosis, Renaye received two choices ” have chemotherapy and extend her life or let the cancer spread.

Renaye tried the chemo.

‘The pain chemotherapy gives you in your arm is like there’s a mini person running up and down your arm pinching on your nerves,’ she said.

‘I had to stop because I couldn’t handle the pain.

‘Not only did the chemotherapy make me feel sick and sore but it also took away the feeling from my legs.

‘I haven’t had any more rounds of treatment.’

Renaye’s mother Mandy Hansen and Renaye’s father Rodney, who were separated, are living together again to be close to their daughter.

Both have stopped working. One of Renaye’s wishes was to swim with dolphins at Seaworld, which she did recently with her sister thanks to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Renaye didn’t come to the media with the intent of raising money; she just wanted people to hear her story.

However, friends and family have organised fundraisers, so she can complete her final wishes ” one of those is to visit Bora Bora ” and to help the family.

To donate go to or at Westpac account ” Renaye Watson-O’Neil Fund, BSB 036183, account number 202645.

To read Renaye’s story in her own words, visit renayes