We all have different perspectives on life and living with PKD. Our uniqueness makes the world a beautiful place, and we can all learn and grow from each other. After speaking to more than 85 audiences across North America over the years, I’ve received an array of responses when educating others about PKD. Some people deeply connect to my story because they live with the disease every day; others are medical students fascinated to talk to a person with PKD versus learning about the disease from a textbook. I’ve spoken to doctors and researchers who are working tirelessly to find a treatment and cure for PKD patients. One audience of eager listeners that stands out in my mind, however, was a group of third graders at Hayshire Elementary School in York, PA.
Several years ago, I had the pleasure of returning to the elementary school that I attended and sharing my journey to a gymnasium full of energetic kids who seemed excited to hear what I had to say. They made a lot of noise, like gasps and oohs and aahs, when I displayed a picture of my PKD kidneys polluted with cysts before they were removed. The students intently listened, were very interactive with me, and when it was question-and-answer time, many of their hands darted into the air, waving back and forth hoping I would call on them. It was an honor to educate these children on PKD. I wish others were so interested in learning about our disease. This event filled my heart with joy and fueled my desire to continue to share my story with people of all ages.
A couple weeks after my presentation, I received a priceless gift of handmade Thank You cards from the third graders. Tears streamed down my cheeks as I read each card, treasuring every word and all of their precious drawings. It was eye-opening to learn through their cards and artwork what they had learned from my speech.
Sometimes we just need to hear or see a different perspective on things in life to open our own eyes. It may be the smallest thing that can have the greatest impact. Let’s be open to others, hearing what they have to say, learning from them, and growing from each other. Let’s be inspired by others.
I spoke at Hayshire Elementary School with the goal of inspiring the students, and in turn they inspired me. They gave me a different vantage point into my own life and PKD, from their “Kidney Ville” drawings, to artwork of kidneys with cysts on them and their kind words. Here is the perspective of PKD from the eyes and hearts of third graders. I hope it touches and inspires you as much as it does me:
How has your perspective of PKD and life evolved since your diagnosis? Has there been a moment or individual that has had a big impact on your perspective of PKD?