For as far back as she can remember, Dolores Bisagni has suffered from high blood pressure. "I think I've had it forever," she says. Somehow, the condition was treated, but never really under control until recently. Dolores says the kidney failure she now has is a direct result of uncontrolled hypertension.
Married for 54 years to her husband Andrew, this mother of five lives in Shirley, New York, a small town on Long Island. When her general practitioner discovered her kidney failure and recommended that she see a specialist, Dolores was somewhat surprised. "I hadn't lost the ability to urinate and I had no other symptoms of kidney disease." Soon afterwards, she began dialysis treatment during which a machine does the job of the kidneys by cleaning the blood of toxins.
Dolores has been undergoing dialysis for the last two years and raves about the personnel at her unit. She dialyzes Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and says that every single person there is "wonderful…they're just a nice bunch of people and they take great care of me and my kidneys." When she's not at dialysis, Dolores spends time doling out coffee and advice at the local 7-Eleven. She's worked the 5-10 am shift weekdays for the last 19 years, but recently she cut back her shifts to Tuesdays and Thursdays due to her dialysis schedule. Dolores knows just about everyone who walks into the store. "I guess you could say the coffee machine is my forte, but my favorite part of the job is talking to the people," says Dolores, "I've known most of them for years and I love them to death. "
For Dolores, the job is a family affair. The store is owned by her son-in-law and managed by her son, but heaven help them if they try to get involved in the coffee production. Dolores boasts that the coffee island is strictly her domain. She loves having her family around. Her children all live on Long Island, with the closest one across the street and the furthest living only 40 miles away. While on dialysis, Dolores still has energy to serve as short-order cook for her five grandchildren when they come to dinner throughout the week to check up on her.
The 7-Eleven store that Dolores calls her home away from home was recently featured on CBS-TV's "Undercover Boss." The company's CEO spent a day trying to learn her secret for selling so many cups of coffee. He soon realized it was her friendly personality and rapport with the customers. At the same time, Dolores announced that "he wasn't going to cut it in my busy store." Since her TV debut, Dolores has appeared in a 7-Eleven campaign promoting organ donation. Her photo is on the collection canisters with the saying "Everyone Knows a Dolores."
Dolores says the campaign has certainly sparked conversation about kidney disease, dialysis and organ donation, which can only be a good thing. When she's not dialyzing or dispensing coffee, Dolores spends her free time sewing, cooking and running errands. She's survived a heart attack, hypertension and kidney disease and her life is brimming with activity.