Surprise! It’s Kidney Health Week! I know, I know.. like I needed to remind you all! It’s totally etched into your brain like your birthday is, like Christmas Day and Easter.
No? Doesn’t ring a bell? At all?
Well.. isn’t this awkward… almost as awkward as this..
Okay – you more than likely didn’t know it was Kidney Health Week. I didn’t either until I got the email. But then again, I seriously didn’t realise the importance of your kidneys until I was diagnosed with Kidney Cancer. I’m lucky that I have been quite healthy throughout my life and while one of my kidneys channeled satan and had to be forcibly removed; my remaining kidney is able to do the job albeit with a few very minor changes to my diet.
What Do Your Kidneys Do?
They do a lot, actually. I know! Who’d have thought?
Most people are born with two kidneys which are located towards the back of your midsection on either side of your spine. They are generally the size of your fist and are bean shaped in appearance. Aesthetics and location aside, they have a huge role to play in your every day health and wellbeing.
Kidneys filter our blood but it is important to note that it is the millions of tiny filtering units called Nephrons that do the work. Each Nephron is compromised of glomerulus and a tubule. Fluid and waste products will pass through the glomerulus but blood cells and large molecules (proteins mostly) will be prevented from passing through. The now filtered fluid moves onto the tubule which directs the much needed minerals back to your blood stream and removes the waste. Once this is done, the eventual product of this process is urine. While your cleaned blood returns back into your body (via the renal vein), the urine makes its way down through the ureter to your bladder to be peed out.
- Your blood supply circulates 12 times an hour through your kidneys – That’s once every 5 minutes!
- Every 24 hours your kidneys process approximately 200 litres of blood – That’s a the equivalent of a standard sized bath!
- Your body will produce 1-2 litres of waste which will leave your body each day as urine.
Kidney Disease – The Silent Killer
They say that ninjas are the silent killers but when you compare how many people have died from stealthy ninja attacks to how many people have died from kidney disease – it becomes a fair call that the above ninjas are more likely to drop the hottest hip hop album of the year than have the body count of kidney disease.
- You can close up to 90 percent of kidney function before experiencing any symptoms
- More than 40 percent of people over the age of 75 have indicators of chronic kidney disease.
- One third of Australians have an increased risk of developing chronic kidney disease.
- Treatment is critical. With no kidney function due to kidney failure – you can die in a matter of DAYS.
Just like all other cancers – Kidney cancer starts with a change to our genes. As our body creates new cells for us to grow and replaces old cells, there is a chance for a change that can lead to cancer. Starting small in size and usually as a single mass (though more than one may occur in one or even both kidneys), if treated early – kidney cancer has a high chance of being cured.
Kidney cancer can indeed spread to other areas which can be a big problem given that it can often he difficult to identify – even with access to CT scans, PET Scans and Ultrasounds.
My kidney cancer was diagnosed as a Stage 3 Grade 4 Renal Clear Cell Carcinoma with Sarcomatoid and Rhabdoid differentiation. It was approximately 5.5cm in size and was starting to invade the segmental branches of the renal vein. My surgeon took the kidney and also the lymphnodes surrounding the it and thankfully the surgical margins were well clear of the diseased, evil kidney. My chances of recurrence is 50/50 and coupled with the particular evilness of the type of cancer there is a likelihood of it happening. My lungs, liver, bones and remaining kidney are on DEFCON 1 if you will!
What caused my cancer? Why was mine one of the worst types you can get? We will never know. As my surgeon so eloquently put it – it was shit bad luck. I can surprisingly live with that partially because I have to and also because I am determined to not let such a life changing event ruin things for me!
Healthy Kidneys? YES. SO. MUCH. YES.
So how do we keep our kidneys healthy and functioning as best they can? Some very simple points can help you keep those nephrons in business and keeping you fight and healthy!
- Drink Water! – Cut back on softdrinks and other beverages high in sugar. Water helps your body filter out waste!
- Stop Smoking – Pretty obvious this one.
- Watch your alcohol consumption – Too much alcohol can lead to high blood pressure and heart disease – which ups your chances of kidney disease.
- Exercise! – Bit of a no brainer this one! Let’s be honest – you all knew I would say this and it’s TRUE!
- Eat a healthy diet – Less stress on the kidneys = healthier you!
- Know your risk levels! – Head on over the Kidney Health Australia – Risk Factors for more info!
- Know the signs of kidney disease – You can learn about them at Kidney Health Australia – Signs and Symptoms
Jon is a Metabolic Precision Transformation Specialist working from his Studio EPIC WIN PT in Newmarket, Brisbane. Follow all the fun and adventures by liking the Facebook page here