For Christine Kapeluck, transplantation has been truly transformative. At just 18 months old, she was diagnosed with Wilms tumour, a type of kidney cancer that, despite its rareness, is also highly treatable if caught early. Luckily for Christine, removal of the affected kidney rendered her cancer free and she went on to live a healthy childhood. Unfortunately, two months into college, she went for a doctor’s appointment and received news that would forever change her life: her only kidney was failing. Christine immediately began dialysis and was placed on the waitlist for a kidney. Christmas 1998 brought Christine the gift of a new kidney. For two and a half years, she embraced her newfound health until complications caused her donor kidney to fail. Once again, she was facing an uncertain future.
Finding herself back on dialysis for the second time in her life, Christine was incredibly disappointed, but honest about the reality of the situation, “We all know transplant is a treatment, not a cure”. Both her parents underwent testing to determine if either of them was eligible to be a living kidney donor. Fortunately, Christine’s mother was deemed a match and on October 11, 2002 Christine’s second kidney transplant took place. To be lucky enough to have received two kidney transplants is not lost on Christine and she is forever grateful, “My mom gave me life twice, and everyday I am thankful for her love and selfishness. Without my first donor and my mom I don’t know where I would be.”
Many years ago, Christine made the decision to live without regret and embrace life to the fullest. In the 17 years since her second transplant, she has done just that! Moving to Vancouver from her hometown in Saskatchewan nine years ago, Christine has taken advantage of everything the West Coast has to offer. She enjoys being active, even participating in Tough Mudder on multiple occasions. Recently, she completed a two-day, 200 kilometre cycle from Fort Langley to Cultus Lake. She also made the gusty decision to go back to school at 35 years old and now has a career that is rewarding and satisfying. “Transplantation has made this all possible and it’s an amazing feeling.”
Looking towards the future, Christine hopes for a day where transplant recipients do not have to take potent immunosuppression medications, acknowledging the side effects can be daunting, “I have been on them for so long, they really wreak havoc on your stomach and also make me more susceptible to infections.” Wanting to use her vast lived experience to benefit others, Christine recently became involved in research as a patient partner and looks forward to using her insight and knowledge as a transplant recipient to make a difference.
If you are a researcher or clinician wanting more information on POR or a patient and family member who is interested in become involved in research, get in touch with us! Email Kristi Coldwell at firstname.lastname@example.org