"I wish more people would reflect on how we are all the same and are all worthy of this gift. I truly believe if you would accept a kidney from a stranger you must be willing to reflect on donating yourself. It's the only way this process works – people being willing to give the gift they'd accept."
How has kidney donation changed your life?
Donating a kidney hasn't really changed my life, which I think is what makes it so wonderful! Besides being feeling a bit of fatigue sometimes, there's nothing I haven't been able to deal with. I feel fulfilled and so grateful to have been able to be part of such an incredible surgery.
What would you tell other people who are considering living kidney donation?
I would encourage them to have conversations with their families and friends. Unfortunately, not everyone may be as supportive as we'd like but it is good to have these conversations.
Also, make sure to be prepared when meeting with the transplant doctors and teams as it can be overwhelming when you're there. And trust that the team has your best interest at heart. They want you to be healthy first, and would not advise you to donate if they aren't confident you will have a normal life afterwards.
Tell us more about the hobbies you've been able to enjoy post-donation.
I love to travel and explore. One of my favorite diving trips was in Fiji diving with seven different kinds of sharks in a marine reserve 100 feet under water. I always travel with my snorkel, mask and fins so I can jump in the water anytime. I also horseback ride and just bought my first horse, which has been a dream since I was a child. He's really young and I'm enjoying the bond we're creating as I train him.
Your positive energy is contagious. Can you tell us what inspires you to have a smile on your face every day?
Awww, shucks! I've definitely always been a positive person, even when I struggled with depression. I think that part of me is always growing because I have a deep love of learning about other people, cultures and the state of our world, both good and bad. I spend a lot of time reflecting about my place in this world and trying to understand other people's experiences. Travel is also a huge part of creating connection and empathy within myself. I also meditate a lot on compassion.
Can you tell us more about your businesses and passions?
Tails to Scales is a dog walking and pet sitting business I've owned for 15 years. Bright Side Painting is a residential painting business I've had for eight. I'm super passionate about my work, and especially my painting. I love being a woman in trades and bringing a different perspective to the work when transforming people's homes and spaces.
I'm also very passionate about travelling, and in fact I was travelling alone in Italy and Malta for a month just five weeks after my transplant surgery.
I love the ocean, snorkeling, scuba diving and seeing wildlife when I visit new countries. I really like being uncomfortable and look for ways to put myself in uncomfortable situations where I can learn and grow as a person.
Tell us about your relationship with Luna and how important she is to you.
I got my dog Luna when she was three years old. I used to coach marathon and triathlon teams and needed my own running buddy. She was really aggressive at first and it was a huge learning experience for me to re-train her and work with her aggression.
She's now the most gentle and sweet dog and I know how to work with her to keep her happy and safe. It taught me a lot about dogs and has inspired me to pivot my dog walking business more towards working with rescue dogs and dogs with behavior issues. I never would have gone that direction if it wasn't for Luna.
She's now 14 and we certainly don't run together anymore but we swim all the time together at Spanish Banks and she's impossible to drag away from the beach. We have long conversations about life too, she's really a great listener.
Can you tell us more about the backstory of your beautiful tattoo?
My tattoo was designed by the tattoo artist who looked through his mother's old medical textbooks to inspire the kidney design of the interior and exterior view. There is a line cutting through the kidney with an outline of a figure on either end which represents myself and my recipient (who I don't know as I donated through the paired exchange program).
With such a busy schedule already, why did you choose to volunteer your time with BC Transplant?
Transplant means so much to me. If I had been educated in it earlier, I would have donated earlier. I had no idea I could donate a kidney to someone I didn't know. I always thought they had to be related or a very close person to donate. I believe more people would consider living donation if they knew more about it.