Writing a book to help patients with kidney failure was the last thing I thought I would be doing after sustaining a personal injury that ended my career. However, sitting down to research and create my thoughts has been challenging, but very rewarding. I wouldn't have ever imagined in 1985, when I entered the dialysis field as a dialysis technician, that I would one day be writing a book to assist a population of people affected by kidney disease—the ninth leading cause of death in the United States. This new role as an author is not taken lightly. As the saying goes, “To whom much is given, much will be required,” and I intend to educate and spread kidney disease awareness until my final days.
With that being said, I would like to thank God, the creator of the universe, for giving me the insight, intuition, and instructions to create and write this much-needed book.
To my family—Mom, Dad, Tyisha, Cyniah, Aaron, Alicia, Takala, and Deon—I am eternally grateful to you for all your love, support, understanding, and patience throughout these years. I know I haven’t been the most attentive son, father, uncle, and grandfather that I could have been; my work and advocacy has definitely been the driving force in my life, and I know family time has been sacrificed at my passion’s expense. But my wish and hope is that this book shows you my dedication, compassion, and love for this work. I love you.
Allison, this moment has been a long time coming, and you have been there since the beginning. I know a lot of your time was sacrificed on my behalf. Thank you for being who you are, and I truly appreciate your friendship and support.
This journey would not be possible if it weren't for Gladice Houston, the senior patient care technician who hired me for my first job in dialysis in 1985. Gladice, I was just a twenty-one-year-old kid, recently discharged from the United States Army four months before you hired me. I worked several odd jobs before attending a trade/technical school for medical assistant training, four months before applying at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic, as recommended by the school’s job placement department. You must have seen something in me that I didn't see in myself. I had never heard of kidney dialysis before applying at the Austin Diagnostic Clinic, and you gave me the opportunity—though I had no previous experience as a dialysis technician—to train there with you. I will never forget your warmth, compassion, and kindness during my interview, orientation, and employment. When my grandfather passed away during my dialysis technician orientation, you let me return to Washington, D.C. to attend my grandfather's funeral. In addition, you graciously let me return to continue my training. Then in November of that year, when my daughter was born, you treated me like one of your own children, giving me the time I needed to spend with my wife and newborn daughter. Gladice, if you had not given me the opportunity to train as a dialysis technician when I had many challenges going on in my life, I don’t know where I would be right now. I am truly indebted to you. Thank you.
A big thank you and appreciation to Ann Cioffi, RN. Whether you know it or not, you were very instrumental in my obtaining my nursing degree. Your countless efforts in getting my classes and books reimbursed by the Fresenius Medical Care Nursing program, as well as making accommodations to my work schedule to attend nursing school, was nothing short of amazing. I can’t thank you enough. Ann, you have been more to me than just my supervisor; you have extended genuine kindness, warmth, friendship, and compassion, all of which has meant the world to me. I also appreciate your sharing the keys to your cottage in Rehoboth Beach for the several getaways I was able to enjoy. I am so fortunate to have met you on this journey of mine. Thank you.
Tamika, my little sister, my ride-or-die and business partner—to God be the glory. Thank you for reaching out to me several years ago to join forces advocating for end-stage kidney disease prevention and awareness. This has been an amazing journey with you. Being your partner and friend is the best thing that could have happened to me. I truly enjoy being your partner and friend. There are no words to adequately express my gratitude, and I know the best is yet to come.
To the Urban Kidney Alliance management team: founding Urban Kidney Alliance, Inc. has been one of the most satisfying and rewarding experiences I have had in my life. To our board members, Dawn Edwards and Jared Brown, thank you for volunteering your time and energy to be a part of an amazing organization. Both of you have been a blessing to the organization and in my life.
To the wonderful hosts who broadcast from the Urban Health Outreach Media Network’s Facebook page, thank you for your unwavering dedication in making Urban Health Outreach Media what it has become. Through your shows, thousands of individuals are being educated and informed about all things kidney disease, including kidney transplantation, home dialysis, peritoneal dialysis, and end-stage kidney disease initiatives and policies. Each one of your shows has made a huge impact on our audience, and I pray we can continue working as a collaborative team. I humbly thank each and every one of you.
David Krissman: man, you have been a blessing in my life. I thank you for your friendship, encouragement, and hospitality. I am also grateful to you for showing me a different perspective on filmmaking and writing—your friendship is invaluable.
One person I truly appreciate and thank God for bringing into my life is Laura Gayle, RN, who reached out to me on a limb through social media and kindly offered her assistance to edit my manuscript before sending it to the publisher. Laura, of course you know that writing a book is not an easy endeavor, especially if someone has a lot going on in their life. I am forever indebted to you for your editorial help, keen insight, friendship, encouragement, and ongoing support in helping me bring this much needed book to life.
This book would not be possible without the dedicated team at WaltersPublishing.com. To everyone at Walter’s Publishing, especially Pierre Walters—thank you for helping me navigate through the self-publishing process, especially since I’m a newcomer to the publishing world. A special thanks to Rachel Mountz and Steph Spector for your amazing work in producing my book.
To LTC Robert Cunningham (RIP retired USA), I wish I would’ve had the opportunity to meet you. Your letter addressed to me on July 18, 1964 has definitely shaped my life as a man and human being. It definitely set me on the path of making the world a better place than I found it. Thank you for taking the time during the Vietnam War to write to me.
I would be remiss not to give a special thanks to all the people who supported and worked with me throughout this journey: Erin Wheeler, Juan Wood, Donnell Debnam, Rhonda Rice, Joe McPhatter, Sade Cutler, Cassandra Floyd, Chef Brian Bordley, Chef Oliver Hale, Chef Jahfrey Juvon, Bruce Sparer, Gale Bell, Paulette Scotland, Nuyen Muhammad, Rob Browder, Binah Kane, the team at American Association of Kidney Patients, Diana Clynes, Richard Knight, Paul Conway, and Erin Khale—thank you.
Finally, to the countless patients affected by kidney failure that I have had the honor and pleasure of meeting and treating, I thank you for trusting me with your care. Caring for patients with kidney failure has been the most rewarding and satisfying part of my life. I truly and humbly thank you and enjoyed serving you.