Fighting the battle is the only way to live

Farah Eslam, 25, from Egypt, had to have an artificial bladder and lives with weak kidneys. She shares her optimism and explains that for her, fighting is the only way to live a full life.

What was your diagnosis, and can you briefly describe the treatment you have received?

I was born with a lifelong disease. I now have an artificial bladder, weak kidneys, high blood pressure, and permanent urine problems.

What have been the most challenging aspects of being diagnosed and living with kidney disease?

Being a young patient, my biggest challenge is to fight hard and never give up. I love my life so much and I don’t want to die young.

I did not have a normal childhood. While my friends were playing and enjoying their age, I had to undergo 6-7 surgeries. I had to see doctors more often than my friends and visit hospitals more than children’s playgrounds.

At 18, I realized that fighting was the only way to live. I decided that as long as I loved my life and wanted to enjoy every moment, I had to be a hero. Now I travel, go out and do everything like people my own age, but with some medication. I decided to think of the urinary catheter as my best friend. YES, it is no longer painful. It loves me so much that it goes everywhere with me. I also have two exhausted friends, my two beautiful kidneys that try to be strong all the time.

At the end of each day, I am proud of myself for completing another day of fighting.
I chose to be a fighter until my heart turns black and blue.

 How do/did you manage or cope with these challenges?

I always try to be positive, optimistic, proud and thankful.

What are the most important learnings in your journey with kidney disease?

I learned that loving your illness and accepting it will help you. I also realized that my parents deserve to have more time with me.

What do you think are the more important things that can help patients to live well with kidney disease?

Listening to your doctor’s instructions, believing in God’s faith and working on your psychological well-being will help you live longer and better.

What sorts of things would you suggest helping patients become better empowered and be in more control of their health/life?

Thinking about ways to be strong, so that everyone gets inspired by you instead of feeling pity, is a great driver for fighting the battle. Believing in yourself will empower you to fight like a lion. Treating your kidneys like your babies will make you stronger.

What are your hopes and fears for the future concerning your disease and your life in general? Are you hopeful that you will be okay?

I hope I can live strong and die strong without ever being weak and that one day all the pain I am feeling will be gone. I hope to be well one day and never break my parents’ hearts.

What is something you wish people knew about living with kidney disease?

I wish them less pain, an optimistic life, and a very light heart to accept the battle.

How did the recent COVID-pandemic change your experience with kidney disease? 

Because of my weak immunity, I was afraid to go for a check-ups or to enter a hospital. I hope that I will soon be able to overcome this fear and return to a normal life.