When Valerie and Kenny pitched their idea to do a Lois Lane/Superman-themed shoot at sunrise on an empty parking deck overlooking the Orlando skyline, I just thought it was an awesome location and a sweet way to incorporate Kenny's love of Superman into their engagement shoot. But I didn't actually know until after the shoot was over that there is a much deeper meaning behind the "S" on Kenny's chest. I'll let Kenny tell you the rest... What does the "S" stand for?
Kenny: Where I'm from, it stands for Hope. Just like it's my Hope that my story would bring Hope to others living in fear, uncertainty and darkness from their physical, mental, emotional and spiritual pain.
Just this past Sunday, I was feeling overwhelmed about my endoscopy procedure that would be performed on Monday morning. I wasn't necessarily concerned about the actual procedure, more than I was about the financial part and how much the co-pays stacked up at the end of this entire process. As intense frustration began to build up, I recalled telling Valerie that I regretted scheduling this appointment. Praise the Lord for my sweet Valerie, for she encouraged me to keep my appointment.
As I patiently sat in the cold outpatient endoscopic center for almost two hours waiting for my name to be called, I kept telling myself how expensive this procedure would be. Within seconds of laying down on the hospital gurney, I woke up wondering when the doc was going to perform the endoscopy. The doctor came up to me and said, "You have a few ulcers and a hiatal hernia. This could've been cancerous, but thankfully, we caught it in time."
There's a few things I learned from this experience. First, the Lord certainly had me protected under His Mighty Hands! He deserves all the praise and Glory! Second, you can never put a price when it comes to your health. Finally, always listen to your wife, or in my case, my future wife! Thank you, Valerie, for always encouraging me, praying for me, believing in me, and most importantly, trusting God--The Perfect Physician.
And now to the real reason why I'm writing this note. Back in July 2003, I was diagnosed with end-stage renal failure. I was on dialysis and had several rounds of chemotherapy. I was informed by my nephrologist that I would need a kidney transplant. I went through all the kidney transplant classes, comprehensive blood work, and an interview process just to get on the transplant list. Just a few days before I was accepted onto the transplant list, my doctor said I would be off dialysis. Thanks to the grace of God, my kidney's stabilized to a point that I wouldn't need dialysis any longer. Ironically enough, I told my dialysis nurse five months prior to my first dialysis treatment that I'd be off dialysis by the end of 2003. On December 5, 2003, I received my final dialysis treatment. The latter stage of dialysis was grueling. Picture yourself running a long race. As you approach that final mile, you grasp for air. The cramps in your ribs, calves and feet worsen to the point that you feel like you're going to faint. That's exactly what my experience on the dialysis recliner felt like. The good news is that I made the finish line.
I am very blessed. Back then, the Catholic in me didn't know what God had in store for my future. As a man that accepted Christ into my life in 2011, I think about how God planted so many wonderful seeds throughout my journey. Even the seeds that were painful were significant. Jim Croce once said, "You don't tug on Superman's cape..." Unfortunately for me, I'm not Superman, and I will never be faster than a speeding bullet. Thankfully, I've dodged many bullets in the last sixteen years.
I hope that my story would inspire you to become an advocate, not just of kidney disease, but of all types of chronic and terminal illnesses. The week before our wedding, Valerie and I will participate in the 2015 Kidney Walk. This event will take place Sunday, May 17th, at Baldwin Park (Orlando, FL).
For more information about the 2015 Kidney Walk, visit www.valerieandkenny.com and scroll down to the 2015 Orlando Kidney Walk section of our page. You'll be able to click on Valerie's Orlando Kidney Walk personal page, as well as my personal page. Join our team, #Livinlondono, make a small donation or do both! When you donate, more than 80 cents of every dollar donated directly supports programs and services, including:
- Educating American's through multimedia public awareness initiatives about kidney disease and ways to reduce their risks.
- Empowering those at risk to take action at free, local kidney health screenings.
- Supporting kidney patients, organ donors, and their families.
- Advocating as the voice of the kidney patient in Washington DC to address the organ donor shortage, fund more research, and defend Medicare coverage for kidney disease.
- Sharing the latest treatment information and practices with healthcare providers so patients get the best possible care.
My story is just one of many. I encourage you... better yet, I challenge you to walk with Valerie and I, just six days before our wedding, for a cause that I hold dear to my heart. Let's walk this journey together and make a difference! Are you up for the challenge?