Jessie’s and Frances’ stories
"I have been involved with AKF in a couple different ways. I have raised money for them at a walk. I have also gone with an AKF representative to speak to my representative. I also had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch at a baseball game for AKF in honor of my mother, who was the biggest baseball fan I've ever known."
Caring for caregivers
Jessie Way and Frances Ashe-Goins know kidney disease all too well. They have experienced all the highs and lows, the physical and emotional labor and the logistical stressors of caring for a loved one with kidney disease.
Jessie’s mom had an undiagnosed childhood disease that slowly damaged her kidneys over time. By the time she showed symptoms and went to the hospital, she was already in kidney failure and needed to start dialysis. She was weakened to the point of needing a wheelchair.
In the span of the two days before she was discharged, the family had to build a ramp and chairlift to the second floor of their house. They had to figure out a schedule for transporting her to and from dialysis three days per week and enroll in Medicare while dealing with a misprinted social security card.
She was too sick for a kidney transplant and passed away after spending one year on dialysis.
Jessie wanted to do something special in memory of her mother, so she started fundraising for the AKF by joining KidneyNation. That was just the beginning.
“I have been involved with AKF in a couple different ways. I have raised money for them at a walk. I have also gone with an AKF representative to speak to my representative. I also had the opportunity to throw out a first pitch at a baseball game for AKF in honor of my mother, who was the biggest baseball fan I’ve ever known,” Jessie said.
Jessie fights in memory of her mom, and is working toward a world where no family has to lose a loved one to kidney disease.
Frances also has a reason to fight.
As a retired registered nurse of 49 years, she knew about kidney disease from taking care of patients. She had to transition her caregiving from work to home when her daughter, Cheryl, was diagnosed with kidney disease at age 17.
To say that Cheryl has gone through a lot would be an understatement. Two failed kidney transplants (one lasting a few months and one lasting about a year), fluid in her lungs from hemodialysis, brittle bones, two hip replacements and chronic pain in both shoulders would be more than enough to slow anyone down.
“But she’s thriving because she realizes that she can live as long as she fights. And she’s been fighting this. It’s amazing to me to see her going through everything. It really hurts my heart, but with all the complications she’s still thriving,” Frances said.
Frances is working toward a better world through disease prevention and health promotion. She believes that through health literacy and teaching people how to take care of their health, fewer people will be diagnosed with chronic diseases.
Kidney disease affects patients and their families. It isolates its victims and devastates communities. But in the darkness, there is hope. There are loving caregivers like Jessie and Frances who are working toward a brighter future so that even just one less person has to go through what their families have.