Voices of PKD: Eric Hampel
My PKD journey, like many people’s, started when I was 18 with the ultrasound to diagnose whether I had inherited PKD. My Mom’s side of the family had been identified as having PKD since my late grandfather had a stroke in his 20s and passed away in his mid-30s (both complications from PKD). Both my Mom and Aunt are living with this awful disease and there I was, the summer before moving away for university, getting tested to see if I also had PKD.
Diagnosis “Positive”. I couldn’t believe it. I had always hoped that PKD would skip me and could just get on with life. In some ways that’s what I did. In university, I pretended that PKD was not a thing and lived like it didn’t matter. But, growing older I realised it wasn’t something you can ignore. Seeing the progressive nature of the disease manifest itself in my loved ones opened my eyes. I realized that in order to ensure that PKD didn’t have the same impact on my generation I’d have to do more than just ignore it, I’d have to get involved.
First, it was volunteering with PKD Foundation of Canada and then after moving to Australia in 2017 I continued to get involved with the PKD Foundation Australia and other Kidney Health charities. While in Australia, I also picked up a new hobby, running. One way of getting more involved and raising funds for PKD research was by running for PKD charities. It started off small with 5km, 12km and eventually 15km races. In late 2021, after moving to the UK for work, I once again sought out the local PKD charity, PKD Charity UK, and asked how I could get involved. When they offered a place in the Great North Run 2022 I jumped (or ran!) at the chance.
The Great North Run is the world’s largest half marathon with over 60,000 participants. After a spring and summer of training, on September 11th I ran my first ever half marathon. What made this moment even more special was that I had surpassed my fundraising goal in the process. I’m already looking forward to the Great North Run 2023 and would love to build on both my run time and fundraising for PKD.
While running 21km may seem challenging, its nothing compared to some of the struggles PKD patients face on a daily basis. That’s what motivates me every time I hit the pavement.