The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows: Meet @tomrennie

May 22 8:00am | Teresa, Volunteer Mentor | @hopeful33250 | Comments (27)

TomRennie and his sister

TERESA: What brought you to Mayo Clinic Connect?

@tomrennie: Mayo Clinic has been my primary care provider for about 20 years. At the initial consult with my oncologist, a brochure about Mayo Clinic Connect was included in a folder of information.

TERESA: What motivates you to take part in Mayo Clinic Connect?

@tomrennie: I want to learn about my cancer (pancreatic neuroendocrine tumors that have spread to my liver). I am a student as well as a patient. There is a lot of misinformation on the internet. I believe patients should educate themselves, but also let the doctors do the doctoring and work with them. 

Diagnosis and treatment are a process. I want to help others move through the process so treatment can begin as quickly as possible. I want to share my journey with others and learn from theirs. 

TERESA: What about Mayo Clinic Connect makes you feel comfortable to share and to be open with the community?

@tomrennie: We are all in this together. I am part of the cancer family. Let’s help each other. There is someone else going through what you are.

TERESA: What support groups do you participate in?

@tomrennie: I participate in the Neuroendocrine Tumors (NETs) support group. 

I also follow the Pancreatic Cancer and Gynecologic Cancers support groups. I have friends with those cancers. We share ideas and information together. All are now being treated at Mayo Clinic after joining Connect themselves. 

TERESA: Tell us about a meaningful moment on Mayo Clinic Connect.

@tomrennie: There are several moments that have greatly influenced me, but @pavlina60’s journey has impacted me the most. Her journey shows a tremendous desire to live. 

Fighting through everything with a positive attitude is a choice. It is easy to feel like a victim. It is easy to blame doctors, blood tests, scans, etc. for a cancer diagnosis or misdiagnosis. Accept it. Work with your care team or find one you can work with for the best possible treatment. In my opinion, blame and anger are a waste of emotions and energy. Pavlina’s journey reinforces those beliefs.

TERESA: What surprised you the most about Mayo Clinic Connect?

@tomrennie: I am surprised when people self diagnose and don’t listen to their doctors. I can find anything I want on the internet to support what I believe. But I am not a doctor. I haven’t spent my life studying cancer let alone become an expert in NETs. My doctors are my teachers, and I am their student. I prepare and do homework for every appointment. I always let the doctors talk first. I find most of my questions get answered. We can then focus on my treatment plan. I value their time. I want to get in and out of the appointment, so the doctors can save someone else’s life. I’m not the only person in the world with cancer.

TERESA: What energizes you, or how do you find balance in your life?

@tomrennie: I am just happy to be alive. I almost wasn’t. I was sick for over 4 years. I lost over 140 pounds. Family and friends were afraid to hug me. They didn’t want to hurt me. My little sister has down syndrome. If I die today, I will have been blessed with opportunities in life that she never had. I love my wife, my family and my friends. I am truly blessed to be loved back. I am going to fight with everything I have to live. My loved ones deserve that from me. 

TERESA: Tell us about your favorite pastime or activity.

@tomrennie: Hiking with our dog. I live in a beautiful area of Arizona. We have hiking trails in very close walking distance. At first, my wife had to assist me to just get the mail out of the mailbox. I now can take 5 mile hikes. My dog only knows me as sick, so he watches my every move. If he senses that I am struggling, he will sit down. He won’t move until he thinks that I can walk again. He is usually right. The wildlife and scenery soothe the soul.

TERESA: Do you have a favorite quote, life motto or personal mantra?

@tomrennie: I grew up in inner city Philadelphia. Rocky is one of my favorite movies. A friend gave me a print of Rocky at the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art's steps with a raised closed fist. It hangs on my “sickroom” wall and reads:

The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain't about how hard ya hit. It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward. How much you can take and keep moving forward. That's how winning is done!

TERESA: If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would you like to see cast as you?

@tomrennie: Sylvester Stallone. He wouldn’t have to do a lot of acting.

TERESA: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

@tomrennie: They are my family. The good ones stick by you no matter what.

TERESA: What food can you simply not resist?

@tomrennie: Chicken parmesan

TERESA: What do you love about where you live or vacation?

@tomrennie: I got married on a sailboat in a harbor of the island of Tortola in the British Virgin Islands over 30 years ago. I have visited a few other Caribbean islands since. We enjoy the warm blue water and people in the Caribbean. It is easy to relax there.

TERESA: Puppies or kittens?

@tomrennie: Puppies. I’m allergic to cats


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Hello @tomrennie and thank you for being willing to share your story with others on Mayo Connect.

As NETs are a rather rare form of cancer, there are probably many of our Connect members who have not crossed paths with you on this forum. However, we can all connect with your story of perseverance and the importance of sharing our stories with others!

I'm glad that you found Connect and that you share your journey with us.


Yo Tom (Sly's voice) - you are so clear and concise in your thinking and outlook about your diagnosis, doctors and life, I admire that. It very much is about how hard you can hit back and you are swinging for the fences. Good for you! Thank you for providing inspiration and sharing yourself with Connect. Keep on keepin' on. 💪🏽


@tomrennie I’m very glad to e-meet you! You sound SO positive! Such an inspiring life.


Thanks for sharing, and the great coaching you’re providing for all of us trying to improve ourselves and and lives through Mayo Connect. I love your comment regarding not wasting energy on negative emotions!


Thanks for sharing, and the great coaching you’re providing for all of us trying to improve ourselves and and lives through Mayo Connect. I love your comment regarding not wasting energy on negative emotions!

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Thanks for the kind words. I really appreciate them. We are better than me. That is why this forum helps so much. We are not alone.


@tomrennie, I love rainbows and am known to run outside in the rain to look for one! Sometimes I see one and sometimes I just get wet - but I have never been disappointed because I am reminded that like life, and our experiences are about the journey. One step at a time. Thank you for sharing your story in this spotlight.


Thank you for sharing your story! What you said about people self-diagnosing themselves resonates with me so much. I was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia 8 years ago and began a very rigorous treatment. My sister was diagnosed with a very treatable stage 2 breast cancer a few months after my diagnosis. She decided to take her cancer treatment into her own hands and focused on changing her diet and pursuing alternative treatments. She died four years ago. Cancer treatment is not for amateurs! Even cancer diagnosed early will kill if not addressed by trained physicians!


That was an amazing post! You are motivating me! Thank you.


Thanks for sharing your story! Of course now “Yo, Adrian” is bouncing around in my head. 😂 well done!


I was diagnosed with Pudendal Nerolgia in 2018 & have been to numerous doctors & have had four nerve blocks with no success.It seems to be getting worse.Wondering if you can help me with this debilitating problem?

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