A family tree of PKD
Polycystic kidney disease is a family disease. Like freckles and blue eyes, there’s a chance that a parent will pass it along to their child. Though Barbara Meskin’s family had passed along PKD for many generations, she had no idea that the family disease would impact her right when she was starting a family of her own.
“I shouldn’t have been surprised,” Barbara said. “But I was.”
Initially Barbara was going in to receive an ultrasound as a screening procedure for an insurance policy. At the time she was pregnant with her second child. The ultrasound confirmed her fear that she too had PKD, and the even more immanent fear that she could pass it on to the child she was carrying.
“One of the hardest things was knowing that it wasn’t going to end with me,” Barbara said.
Barbara was not a stranger to the effects of PKD. She remembers growing up with her grandmother being on dialysis before she passed away, and her father’s diagnosis when she was a teenager.
“My father never really talked about his disease,” Barbara said. “As a teenager, I didn’t really realize how sick he was. It was after his transplant I realized how bad it must have been because he was so much happier.”
For Barbara, the diagnosis of PKD left her feeling helpless and unsure of what was to come for the future of both herself and her children. This feeling motivated her to take action.
“When you’re diagnosed with the disease, but you’re otherwise healthy, all you feel like you can do is just wait to become sick,” Barbara said. “But I had all of this energy to do something about it, to fix it.”
Barbara soon discovered the PKD Foundation’s website during her research about the disease. She soon became involved in the Walk for PKD and began fundraising with her parents, husband, siblings and children, creating her own united front against the family disease.
“Participating in the walk was the first time I really took ownership of my disease,” Barbara said. “It was a big step because I hadn’t told many people. Especially when you’re healthy, you don’t want people to think that you’re not anymore. But I finally felt empowered, instead of victimized, by the disease.”
Becoming more active and involved with the fight against PKD has allowed Barbara to take charge of her situation and fight for a more positive future for her family, and other families, who share the same struggles and dreams for a future without PKD.
“Finding a way to raise funds and share my story has helped so much,” Barbara said. “Making a difference in the future of PKD for me and my children has let me take control of the disease.”