This year, Alive to Strive Kidney Fitness Project nominated two individuals as this year’s race ambassadors in recognition of their amazing efforts to improve their health and fitness while living with chronic kidney disease.
In this post, we’d like to introduce you to our first ambassador, Marie-Eve Bisson. Here is her wonderful story!
Born with one kidney, Marie-Eve has been active most of her life. “I always knew I had to take care of my one kidney. But when you’re young, you don’t think anything will happen to you! I was in good health up until my late teens when my blood pressure began to climb because it wasn’t controlled.”
A few years ago, she took up running and that’s when she learned about the Alive to Strive Kidney Fitness Project. “I was speaking with a friend, telling her about my running, and she told me about this local organization that could help me with reaching my fitness goals.” After that conversation, Marie-Eve joined the 5km running group classes offered by Alive to Strive.
Two years ago, in 2013, Marie-Eve and a group of her friends ran the 5km team challenge at the Alive to Strive Race. That same year, during a routine blood pressure test, Marie-Eve was rushed to the hospital after doctors found her blood pressure was dangerously high. After further tests, Marie-Eve was shocked to learn she was in kidney failure. “Somehow, despite being in kidney failure, I still had enough energy to keep running and working out.”
On April 3, 2014, just weeks before last year’s Alive to Strive Race, Marie-Eve received a kidney from her good friend, Jonathan. Days later, Marie-Eve dealt with the devastating loss of her new kidney due to thrombosis, a blood clot in the new kidney. A resilient and determined Marie-Eve still made it to race day to cheer on her group of friends who were running the 5km team challenge.
“Jonathan and I couldn’t run last year so we cheered on my friends. It was not an easy period for me; I had mixed emotions, guilt. Jonathan was so encouraging despite the loss of the kidney, and I had to find a way to live that moment, to deal with the loss. I felt such huge support behind me; friends came from Montreal, Toronto for the Alive to Strive Race. There were 25 people out there running or walking! It felt amazing to have to have my friends out there supporting me.”
In the months following the race, Marie-Eve worked through the side effects of her failed transplant. “Mentally, you’re ready for the new kidney, and then it fails. Physically, I felt nausea and other side effects. I went back to work in the summer but eventually had to stop work. My father also passed away during this time. It was a very hard period,” shares Marie-Eve.
“Then I received news this past September that another friend, Danielle, was a compatible donor. On December 5, 2014, I underwent my second kidney transplant and everything went really well. I could feel the difference right away when I woke up. My body just felt cleaner because the new kidney was removing toxins.”
After surgery, Marie-Eve says that her kidney journey is not over. “Surgery and transplant is the short term challenge. For the rest of my life, there will be medications, taking care of my health, monitoring my kidney. You have to adapt to a whole new life and learn how to live with a new kidney.”
“I feel very lucky. I’ve had two donors, no dialysis and a successful surgery,” says Marie-Eve. “I’ll be participating once again this year in the 5km team challenge with a team of 30 people behind me, including my two donors. My dad walked the 5km last year; he was always a big advocate of organ donation, raising funds and participating in the race to help support me. It is very important for me to be out there again this year.”