Announcing the Winners of the 18th Annual Essay Contest!

RSN’s Annual Patient Essay Contest provides an outstanding opportunity for people who have chronic kidney disease, including people on dialysis and kidney transplant recipients, to make a valuable contribution to society by expressing their ideas, views, and most importantly, hope.The theme of this year’s essay contest is “Thriving, No Matter What I Can or Can’t Eat: A Happy Food Experience on the Kidney Diet. Smart food choices are a key element of living with a chronic illness, and writers enthusiastically responded to the theme by sharing their interesting food anecdotes as well as their discoveries for improving their health, well-being, and daily lifestyles. Entrants needed to meet only one criteria — to have been diagnosed with chronic kidney disease.

Thank you to everyone who entered RSN’s 18th annual essay contest! Read the Press Release.

Read and Listen to the Winning Essay of the 18th Annual Essay Contest:

Eat Wink & Thrive, 1st Place Winner, 18th Annual Essay contest

Picture it: Auburn, Alabama 2018, in a veterinary student’s mobile home. Five vet students, laptops open, piles of books and notes on the floor...

Happy as a Clam, 2nd Place Winning Essay, 18th Annual Essay Contest

The idiom "as happy as a clam" seems a bit strange to me since a mollusk would not be perceived as having any emotions....

Cooking with a Renal Twist, 3rd Place Winning Essay, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“No, you can’t be serious,“ I uttered, as my doctor informed me of the news. I was officially diagnosed with renal failure. I always had...

Kidney Diet Hero, 4th Place Winning Essay, 18th Annual Essay Contest

I was a southern boy growing up in North Carolina, so food is just a part of my heritage. Every Sunday after church all...

So Long, Mrs. Freshley’s, President’s Pick, 18th Annual Essay Contest

I was diagnosed with chronic kidney disease (CKD) 38 years ago when I was 18. Back then the extent of the instructions regarding my...

Stop Lying, Start Living, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay contest

It was once said you can lie to everyone but yourself. Well, I am a living witness to the fact that this statement, in...

OH NO! AVOCADO!, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay contest

From my hospital bed, I perused the list of foods I couldn't eat on a kidney diet. And the first food that immediately stood...

A Summer Day Picnic, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

I felt excited because Thanksgiving 2007 was almost here. I was, however, also concerned.  I had found out in September that I had end...

Dead Man’s Curve, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

To me, the ugliest word in the dialysis dictionary is phosphorous. I've lived for over 40 years as one who picked up not one,...

From the Philippines, with Love, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

Before being diagnosed with chronic kidney disease, I was just a man in love. I was eagerly waiting to be married to a woman I...

Fly Me to the Moon, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I’m going to need you to fly to the moon for me.” Did I hear that correctly? Did my nephrologist really just order me to...

Motivational Moderation, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

We would all like to see the sun shine every day, but on some days we see storm clouds. I always think if you...

You Never Know Unless You Try, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

Dear Mom, Just wanted to catch you up on some happenings. I know it's been awhile. Even though things are ridiculously busy these days, I...

Accepting Dietary Limitations, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay contest

My road to a happy food experience on the renal diet has been bumpy, rife with potholes. For most of my life, I lived...

No Reason to Fail, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

Imagine a giant bowl of hot, crispy French fries freshly sprinkled with salt and maybe even a little bit of melted cheese and bacon...

Here is what the winners had to say about their experience writing their essays:

“My experience with this contest has been great. Writing an essay about my diagnosis was really cathartic for me. Being able to share my story with others is an honor. I am very open about my diagnosis and limitations with everyone. It is a part of who I am but it does NOT define who I am.”–Kristin Brunstein, 1st Place Winner, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“My experience doing the renal essay has been eye opening for me. I now know that I would really like to inform people on how to just live being on dialysis.”–Makeisha West, 3rd Place Winner 18th Annual Essay Contest

“Actually I thought it would be tough to write an essay after being away from academics for so many years.  But it really was so much easier writing about a topic I knew very well.  My social worker Kattie Holland brought this contest to my attention and I thought this would be the perfect vehicle to bring my story to others.”–Joseph Hardison, 4th Place Winner, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I love to write and jumped at the chance to share the dietary challenges of living with CKD and to brag on my clinic dietician, Shannon!”–Mike Gothard, President’s Pick, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I love this contest! It is such a wonderful way to give a voice to kidney patients and such a great creative outlet. This year’s theme was very fun to write on, as the kidney diet has been one of my biggest struggles (and triumphs) as a patient.”–Joy Araujo, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“The subject of this essay contest piqued my interest because I had had a very challenging time making peace with food on the renal diet, after having spent years making peace with food, in general, due to a lifelong eating disorder.”–Sheri Sinykin, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“This essay has prompted me to stay on course and share as often as possible my method of motivational moderation.”– Rev. Marjie Dozier, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I really enjoyed doing this Essay and the many challenges I have faced . My dialysis dictionary is how i digest everyday livings and the agenda to maintaining a healthy environment especially in today new Bubble World.”– John Burris, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I have so enjoyed reading the entries from prior years with the great information and encouragement they gave me that I decided to enter this years contest hoping my experiences also would be helpful to other kidney patient’s.”– Debra Dansie Anderson, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I enjoyed the opportunity to write for the contest.  I love writing, so being able to join that skill with something personal to me such as my recovery journey was a very healing and enjoyable task; for me as well as my wife.”– Josh Mackenstein, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“I was invited to submit my essay by dialysis staff, and my goal was to honestly express my own truths about my renal diet, hoping that some readers might find some common ground with my struggles.”–David Wills, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“Pain doesn’t make one suffer, it makes one stronger. It is the inability of not knowing how long the pain will last that makes one truly suffer.”–Rev. Marjie Dozier, Honorable Mention, 18th Annual Essay Contest

“Food is always a favorite topic,” says Lori Hartwell, President and Founder of RSN, “But when you have kidney disease your diet can be challenging. We have a following of amazing writers, and they were up to the task of delivering thought-provoking, insightful, and often humorous accounts of their dietary journeys. RSN has a panel of judges to help us determine the essay winners. It was a tough choice this year. We received over 100 essays from across the United States and we are grateful to everyone who took the time to share a personal story. I read each essay with pride, tears, and admiration for the courage of my peers. In addition to this year’s essay winners, we wanted to acknowledge 10 outstanding essays with honorable mentions. We are asking each essay winner to record their story. And, to have a broader reach of inspiration and hope, RSN will have them translated into Spanish.”

Read Past Essays

Yes, I AM: A 40-Year Survivor’s Declaration

I watch the young man, shivering, curled up in a ball at the end of the couch I'm sitting on. You hear about addiction,...

Get the Essay Collection Book

Book of Essays - Renal Support Network

RSN’s book of essays “Hope, Inspiration & Wisdom: A Treasury of Thoughts on Coping with Kidney Disease” is available for purchase.
Order the Printed Book for $14.95 or the Kindle Book for $6.99

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