By Cynthia Flash
Lora Roy of Bonney Lake, one of the first female aircraft mechanics in Air Force, has faced health problems for the past 35 years. But she remains upbeat, confident and ready to face her next challenge.
A long-time diabetic, she suffered a heart attack on Christmas Eve 2009. Later, during an angioplasty procedure, both her kidneys failed, causing damage that turned out to be permanent.
Now Roy, 65, gets dialysis treatments three times a week at Northwest Kidney Centers in Enumclaw. A dialysis machine removes body waste and extra fluid since her kidneys can no longer do that job. Roy is working hard to qualify for the wait list to receive a kidney transplant from a deceased donor. It’s not easy, as she works to lose weight and feels wiped out from the three-to-four-hour dialysis treatments. But Roy is persevering through it.
That perseverance has served her well throughout her life. She spent her earlier years serving in the U.S. Air Force for four years. She eventually married her military supervisor and she and her husband Don, now married 41 years, have three children and three grandchildren with another one due this month. After raising her children, she worked at a bank and the Fred Meyer in Bonney Lake.
While she basks in the joy of her family, Roy says that, “living with kidney disease is a pain in the butt.” But it hasn’t stopped her. She and her husband travel often to Las Vegas to visit family. Because she needs dialysis every few days, she books ahead at a dialysis clinic on the road.
When she first heard she had kidney failure, she says, “I thought, ‘My life’s over.’ But my husband proved to me otherwise. We can go anywhere we want. Nothing has to stop you. What stops people is their mind. If you open your mind up, you can do anything.”
Roy is one of the more than 10 percent of American adults with chronic kidney disease, which is more common in people with diabetes and high blood pressure. Chronic kidney disease often gets worse over time and it can result in permanent kidney failure. However, the progression can be slowed or stopped if people get diagnosed early and change their lifestyles to incorporate healthier habits.
If kidney disease progresses to kidney failure, it’s life-threatening. Only regular dialysis treatments or a kidney transplant will keep the patient alive.
Roy is happy to tell her story in advance of Northwest Kidney Centers’ May 14 Breakfast of Hope at the Westin Seattle, which will raise money to support transplant services and charity care. Roy hopes she can educate others about kidney disease and persuade them to talk to their doctors about it. Screening tests are easy, inexpensive and important for people at increased risk.
Northwest Kidney Centers’ website offers information about kidney disease, diagnosis, treatment, classes and recipes for easy and delicious dishes. It’s also the place to sign up for the Breakfast of Hope. Visit www.nwkidney.org.