Kidney Patient Takes Health Matters into Her Own Hands (and Fists)

Four years ago, 35-year old Aziza Myers of New York City received news from her doctor that should have changed her way of life. She had chronic kidney disease, resulting from untreated high blood pressure. But Aziza was in denial and she continued her unhealthy lifestyle until 18 months ago when she made the decision to take control of her health

"When I was diagnosed, I convinced myself it was my death sentence and that there was nothing I could do about it," said Aziza. "I was angry to the point that I stopped taking my medications."

Then one day last year, Aziza looked at a photo taken of her and something snapped. She decided right then that she wanted to look and feel better. As a corporate sales rep for a health club company, she began taking advantage of her free gym membership (after passing on it for three years) and participating in boxing and spinning class. Besides getting fit, Aziza gave her diet an overhaul and switched from fried to fresh and green foods.

Aziza gains strength from her close friend Malik, 41, who has been receiving dialysis for over five years and has been on the kidney transplant waiting list for three.

"Malik is constantly calling and texting me to see what I ate that day and if I took all my medications," said the now 30 pounds-lighter Aziza. "He wants me to be healthy because I can."

Aziza urges everyone she knows to learn from her story. "I tell everyone with high blood pressure to get their kidneys checked out and let them know that the National Kidney Foundation offers screenings for free so there's really no excuse not to take advantage."

To find a free screening through the NKF's Kidney Early Evaluation Program, visit www.keeponline.org