Renal Support Network (RSN) is a nonprofit, patient-led organization that provides non-medical services to chronic kidney disease (CKD) patients. RSN works to help dialysis, kidney transplant, and newly diagnosed patients develop their personal coping skills, special talents and employability by empowering patients and families to take control of the course and management of the disease.
One of the ways the RSN encourages people to think back and share their knowledge with others is by promoting the organization’s 14th Annual Patient Essay Contest. According to a press release, the theme for 2016 is “What Do You Know Now About Chronic Kidney Disease That You Wish You’d Known When You Were Diagnosed?”
The only condition is that all submissions must be written by someone who has been diagnosed with CKD (additional rules here). Contest winners will be given cash prizes: $500 for the first place winner; $300 for second place; and $100 for third place.
The deadline for submissions is Aug. 1, and names of winners will be announced around Sept. 10 on RSN’s official website. Besides being posted online, winning essays will be featured in RSN’s publication, “Live & Give.”
The National Kidney Foundation estimates that CKD affects 26 million Americans today. CKD can be triggered by previous conditions (including diabetes and high blood pressure, among others) and only early detection and treatment can prevent disease progression. CKD might lead to kidney failure if left untreated, which means a life-long dialysis treatment or a kidney transplant.
If 85 to 95 percent of kidney function is lost, then patients might need renal dialysis, a process that helps removing waste, salt, and extra water to maintain safe levels of certain chemicals in the blood, like potassium, sodium, or bicarbonate, as well as to control blood pressure.
“People who successfully adapt to life with a chronic illness like kidney disease learn both universal and specific coping skills,” said RSN’s founder and president, Lori Hartwell, who was diagnosed with CKD in 1968. Hartwell is the author of “Chronically Happy: Joyful Living in Spite of Chronic Illness.”
“The people who suffer from kidney disease know firsthand the importance of sharing their experiences and inspiring their peers,” Hartwell said. “There are so many stories and great life lessons that have come from our renal patient community, as RSN’s Essay Contest has shown over the years. Every year, we still learn from the incredible stories that people who have kidney disease share with us.”