Every once in a while, you meet someone who changes your perspective on things. Who brightens your outlook with their positivity. Who reminds you of the many reasons you have to be grateful. Brittany is that kind of someone.
In December of 2017, Brittany was has just finished her first semester at community college. She has a heart for working with children and was pursuing her degree in education with the hope of becoming a preschool teacher.
Then, almost overnight, everything changed.
One afternoon, just before the holidays, Brittany’s parents came home from work to find her shivering. She wasn’t feeling right and her feet were swollen. Her father drove her to the hospital, where she was admitted and diagnosed with kidney failure of an unknown cause.
The next year-and-a-half were a blur of doctors, treatments, and medications. Through months of painful dialysis and relentless uncertainty about the future, Brittany refused to give up hope.
In 2018, Kidney Solutions put out a video highlighting Brittany’s story. If she were to have any chance of being healthy again, Brittany needed a kidney from a living donor, and none of her family members were a perfect match. Patiently, she waited for the transplant that would save her life.
At one point while waiting for her new kidney, Brittany’s heart stopped beating. She was on 40 different medications and weighed just 50 lbs. Her doctors were skeptical that she would be able to withstand a transplant because her weight was too low.
During the times that she felt scared, Brittany’s faith and church were her greatest sources of comfort. She remembers the day that her dad asked her what she wanted him to pray for. She answered, “Pray for what God wants me to do after the transplant.”
Very soon afterward, the transplant coordinator called to say that there was a kidney for her. “From there, I had a much stronger faith in God,” Brittany remembers, “and I knew I had a purpose in encouraging other people with their health.”
After a long and difficult surgery, Brittany’s number one job was protecting her new kidney. To do that, she needed to cut down on the number of medications she was taking and put on weight. At a kidney symposium where she had been asked to share her story, Brittany saw a flyer for our free health coaching program. She decided to call and see if we could help.
For over a year now, Brittany has had weekly, one-on-one sessions with her dedicated health coach, Natalie. Together, they’re finding ways for Brittany to navigate the complexities of her condition.
“I’ve worked with other health coaches,” says Brittany, “and they tell you bits of advice – but they don’t actually help you move forward.” With Natalie, things felt different. In addition to their weekly phone calls, Natalie sends Brittany reminders to follow up on what they talked about.
Apart from reducing her medications by more than half, Brittany is drinking more water – something she’s always struggled with – and learning about the kinds of foods and physical activity she can enjoy with her condition.
Natalie encourages Brittany to keep a diary to track her goals, motivation, and progress. On days when the effort feels overwhelming, Natalie helps her remember her “why.” Brittany’s faith and commitment to uplifting others waiting for transplants has been a big part of Brittany’s recovery. She has a list of affirmations that she says to herself throughout the day. Her favorite is from Psalm 73:26. It says, “My health may fail, and my spirit may grow weak, but God remains the strength of my heart; He is mine forever.”
Reflecting on her progress, Brittany says, “I just had to figure out how to motivate myself and do things positively.”
COVID-19 has posed a new set of challenges for Brittany. With her surgery behind her, she looked forward to returning to her church community and picking up more hours at the preschool where she had found part-time employment. Instead, she celebrated the one-year anniversary of her kidney transplant in quarantine.
Still, she’s finding ways to spread her positivity and hope. She’s even started a Facebook group for others facing health challenges. She wants to give people a forum to get healthy together – even if they’re not in the same place.
“If there’s one thing I want people to learn from my story,” says Brittany, “it’s that everyone in the world is hurting in some way, so it’s important not to feel down. Know who you are, try to stay positive, and find others who can help.”
“Not everything is going to be perfect,” she says, “and it’s okay to not be okay. What matters is how you rise up from it and how you respond to the circumstance.”
Courage. Resilience. Determination. Brittany embodies the qualities of so many people who turn to It’s Time Texas for support. And wherever Texans are working to establish a foundation of health – whether for themselves, their families, or their communities – we’re determined to walk that path with them.
Because sometimes our greatest strength is knowing that we’re not alone.
Every day, your generosity helps Texans like Brittany develop the skills, confidence, and motivation to manage their health, so that they can go out and live their purpose.
Join our giving community at determined.itstimetexas.org.