Rodgers family

Brianna was diagnosed with PKD at just 11 years old, making her the youngest in a family full of PKD.

The spring, for many, signals a new start and a perfect time to set new goals for the rest of the year. For 21-year-old Brianna Rodgers of Grapevine, Texas, 2014 is her year to make a difference in the PKD community. “I just want to take the opportunity to do something good,” she said.

Flashback one-decade ­­– Rodgers was diagnosed with polycystic kidney disease (PKD) at just 11 years old, making her the youngest person in a family full of PKD patients to deal with the disease.

“I didn’t really understand the disease back then like I do now,” Rodgers said. “What I noticed was that before I had been really active and involved with cheerleading and other sports. It was a big part of who I was. When I was diagnosed, I kind of had to figure out who I was without those things.”

When Rodgers later attended college, she met the man who would become her husband. Bringing up PKD to him, Rodgers said, was something she worried about. Still, she knew it was important to let him know about the disease from the very beginning.

Brianna Rodgers and her husband

Bringing up PKD to her future husband was something Brianna worried about but knew was very important.

“It was a make or break kind of deal,” Rodgers said. “I mean, we’re talking about your whole life here. I deal with the disease every day, and I knew that by telling him, I would be making him deal with it too. That’s a very real reality.”

That reality has followed Rodgers and her husband as they have started their lives together and considered growing their family.

“Family is a huge part of our lives,” Rodgers said. “I wasn’t always certain about my career, but I always wanted to be a mom no matter what. If our children have PKD, we’ll deal with it then. If not, it’s a blessing.”

This year, Rodgers aims to contribute to the fight against PKD in whatever way she can. She hopes to be involved in a study or drug trial, and recently became a Jamberry Nails Consultant with the intention to donate the funds raised to the PKD Foundation. Her motivation, Rodgers said, stems from her hope to brighten the future for PKD families, including her own.

“By the time my husband and I have children, I want to be able to tell them that there is a treatment,” Rodgers said. “I want to be able to let them know that they won’t have to face the same frustrations that I have had to face.”

No matter what the future holds, Rodgers’ outlook remains strongly grounded in the present, where making the most of each moment is a philosophy she will carry with her through the rest of the year and into the years ahead.

“When you have a lifelong disease, you have to decide how you are going to let it affect you,” Rodgers said. “I could wallow in self pity, but why? It’s my one life. I’m not going to waste a moment.”