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CBS2: Kidney disease survivor shares story to raise awareness for National Kidney Month

Updated: Jan 25

CHICAGO (CBS) -- March is National Kidney Month, so we wanted to take some time to talk about kidney disease and raise awareness.

According to the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, one in three American adults are at risk of developing kidney disease, and since there are often no early symptoms, screenings are essential.

Monica Fox, director of outreach and government relations for the National Kidney Foundation of Illinois, is a kidney disease survivor and kidney transplant recipient. She joined CBS News Chicago to share her journey.

"I was one of the 37 million people living with kidney disease, and I didn't know it," she said. "Over the years, I had been told that there was a little protein spilled in my urine, and they would explain it away, and I would be relieved. I didn't know then I should have asked for some further testings to test my kidney functions," she said.

When Fox was suddenly diagnosed with stage 5 kidney disease, meaning her kidneys were very close to failure or already had failed, she was immediately put on dialysis, and spent three years on dialysis before getting the gift of a transplant.

"There are five stages of kidney disease. If you catch it early enough – most people, they catch it at stage 3a or 3b – you can slow the progression of it, or even stop it from progressing," she said. "If you are diagnosed early, you can see a dietician, and you can follow along with your lab reports, and eat accordingly, and then just in general, living a healthy lifestyle is the best way, and keeping up with your regular appointments, and getting tested."

The National Kidney Foundation of Illinois offers free education for kidney patients and their caregivers.

They are also hosting a Walk for Kidneys on June 4 at Diversey Harbor to raise money for research, public education, and patient services.

"That's a really fun time for families to come together, and enjoy each other, and raise money for a great cause so we can do these great programs," she said.

You can watch Fox's full interview in the video player above.

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