Nancy: My Mess is My Message

Nancy Scott on cruise crop

Nancy Scott is an ordained minister, a retired nurse, and an experienced medical administrator. When she retired at an early age she wanted to travel. Four years after retiring, plans changed when Nancy went into kidney failure.

She had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes years earlier, but, one day in 2004, she suddenly lost her sight. “I went to a meeting, and I couldn’t find my car,” Nancy said. “Everything was white.” Nancy waited a week to go to her doctor. A few days later, she went home to rest, and wasn’t able to get up from the couch. She went to the emergency room and was diagnosed with kidney failure. Nancy began dialysis in March 2004.

Nancy’s daughter wanted to donate a kidney to her. When they went for testing, Nancy discovered that she had breast cancer. This diagnosis made her ineligible for transplant until she was cancer-free for three years. “None of this stopped me,” Nancy said. “I went on the waiting list for a deceased donor kidney in 2007 and got a transplant in 2011. I’ve been a breast cancer survivor for 11 years and a transplant recipient for four years.”

Nancy is a great believer that the mind and body work together. Her positive attitude has motivated her to overcome her health challenges, become more involved in her care, and help others do the same. “I had this same energy when I was on dialysis,” she said. “I let my mess be my message!”

Nancy is President of the Board of Directors for the Dialysis Patient Citizens Education Center, and an advocate for Dialysis Patient Citizens. She is also Chair of the Board of Directors at Henrietta Johnson Medical Center, a community health center. Nancy considers herself to be a “professional student” and is currently pursuing a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology.

“Dialysis doesn’t mean the end of your life—it means the end of your renal function,” Nancy said. “You don’t just shut down when you have a chronic disease. If you sit around and mope you just feel worse. It’s important to get into a support group and get involved with like people.”

Her advice to others is to be aware of your body and take action when something feels wrong. “A lot of times people wind up with chronic diseases because they ignore symptoms,” Nancy said. “Get an annual physical, get your yearly blood work!”

Her goal for the future is to educate others about kidney disease, and to emphasize prevention. “I believe a person knows when something is not right,” she said. “Be mindful and make yourself knowledgeable about your own body. Don’t ignore anything that’s not normal in your everyday life. Knowledge is important. And once you know, you can teach others.”

#TogetherWeCan is a continuing series of stories from kidney patients and care partners, sharing their experiences and insights.