Mackenzie’s Personal Story Why Support Groups are Important
by Mackenzie Kerper, Programs and Camps Manager at NW Kidney Kids
I am going to briefly tell a little about my story to help reinforce my point.
I was 16 when I was diagnosed with ESRD and 17 when I had my first transplant. It wasn’t until my early/mid 20’s that I met a woman who had also had a transplant. Her story was incredible. We exchanged phone numbers but weren’t in contact until she randomly came to work for me years later. Although our relationship was professional, we did occasionally get to talk about our kidneys and the journey that put us on.
Shortly after, I decided I wanted to continue to advance my career and thought perhaps some volunteering experience would help or at least help bulk up my resume. I looked up many different areas of interest. Finally, I started looking at kidney related volunteer opportunities. Up pops NW Kidney Kids! After volunteering the first time, I was in love and couldn’t tell you how important it is to have other kidney patients and families in your circle. Having only one person who I got to connect with about kidney disease up until that point, that was really hard. No matter how much you talk about your journey with someone who doesn’t have CKD, they will never understand, no matter how hard they try.
If I would have gotten the chance to participate in a support group, especially virtually where I could participate from my couch in my pajamas, I would have participated in an instant! I could share, or just listen, to others about topics like being different or fragile in the eyes of others. I could share, or just listen, when others shared about the struggles they were going through, or the joys of being emotionally strong. I could share, or just listen, about the foods that we can’t eat or the amount of pills we have to take, or how much school we miss due to appointments, or the long drive to the clinic or hospital. Even just knowing that other people experience the same things, means a lot! Makes a person feel like they belong. And that’s what I was missing for 10 years before finding NW Kidney Kids!
I have made some lifelong friends through NW Kidney Kids and I am so thankful for this new second family that I have! Participating in the support groups we offer can be a great way for your children to feel connected as well. We are here as a family and we need to support and lift each other up as a family does. Through our support groups, one for kidney kids, and one for siblings, we can do just that. Let us know you’re interested Here.
Take a listen to our Podcast, "Let's Talk About Kidney Kids"