This year’s Courtenay Kidney Walk honouree understands all too well the devastating effects of kidney disease, and the importance of continuing the fight against it.
Cory Marshall, 37, lost his mother and grandfather to kidney failure, and he was on dialysis himself for nearly 12 years due to the disease.
In March, Marshall received a new kidney and says he’s feeling great, but he doesn’t know if he could have had the transplant without help from the Kidney Foundation of Canada, B.C. Branch.
“They paid for the accommodation while on the mainland, they arranged the accommodation while on the mainland, and without them it would have been big trouble, real big trouble,” he says, adding expenses on things like medication, and lost money from missed work really add up.
“Had they not been there to support me post-transplant I don’t know what I would have done. I have no idea what would have happened.”
The Courtenay Kidney Walk — which raises funds for the Kidney Foundation and generates awareness about kidney disease — will be held at Simms Millennium Park at 11 a.m. on Sunday. Registration is at 10 a.m. and donations will be accepted at the walk.
Funds raised from the walk will help with travel costs for kidney disease patients like Marshall, as well as other costs like assisting dialysis clinics or even paying for home support costs for people who need extra help due to the disease, according to Courtenay Kidney Walk co-ordinator Al Jewall.
But, Jewall adds the walk is about creating awareness of kidney disease and getting people to sign up as organ donors as much as it is about raising money.
“One of the driving goals behind these kidney walks … is to get people to sign organ donor cards because we really don’t have a good showing in B.C. for organ donor signees,” he says, adding receiving a new kidney is the only real way to win the battle against the disease, and there will be an organ donor signup form at the walk.
According to the walk pledge form, 85 per cent of British Columbians are in favour of organ donation, but only 18 per cent have registered to be an organ donor.
Marshall’s new kidney has changed his life.
“Things like my energy have changed dramatically,” says Marshall. “I have lots of energy and am able to go all the time, golfing lots and I’m not restricted to staying in the Comox Valley all the time to be at dialysis three days a week, so I’m just doing my best to take advantage of that definitely.”
Marshall would spend up to five hours on dialysis during each of those visits three days per week, and he notes that cut into his time greatly by restricting his ability to travel, work, and well, live his life.
Also, his diet was severely restricted before — he was unable to eat all sorts of foods and drinks like dairy products and various types of vegetables for example — so now he’s revelling in being able to eat what he wants.
He points out one of his lingering memories from shortly after his transplant was when he went out to dinner with his girlfriend.
“It was a whole new experience looking at the menu for what I can have as opposed to what I can’t have,” he explains. “It was just so different to look at a menu in a restaurant and not have to say, ‘Well don’t put any cheese, or can I have it this way, or instead of potatoes can I have this?’ “
Marshall is pleased to be this year’s honouree, and hopes to inspire people living with kidney disease.
“I’m excited to do it,” he says. “I’m excited for maybe people that are new to kidney disease and are possibly looking for a little inspiration and are feeling like they’re disconnected from themselves — because that’s certainly how I felt for the longest time — I don’t mind that people can have the opportunity to see that there’s light at the end of the tunnel.”
Marshall points out he’s had his dark days during his fight against kidney disease too; he previously had a kidney transplant in December of 2006, which failed in the fall of 2007, about nine months later.
“I just kind of picked myself up, dusted myself off and said, ‘OK, well this is the hand I’m dealt and you’ve just got to keep moving forward and be as positive as possible,’ ” he says. “That’s the thing I think that gets people the most that are on dialysis for an extended period of time is they start feeling sorry for themselves, they start not trying and losing the positiveness in life.”
Marshall was back on dialysis for another 4.5 years or so waiting for the kidney he now has.
Though he says it’s always another fail is always in the back of his mind, he adds the match was better for this kidney and the transplant went very smoothly — he was out of hospital care very quickly compared to normal kidney transplant patients.
For more information or to donate online, visit www.courtenaykidneywalk.ca.