Yes, I am a Christian and soon I will be joining the United Methodist Church (UMC) and will be joining the congregation at Broadway United Methodist Church in Council Bluffs, Iowa. With that said, I believe that God has a plan for my life, my politics, and my health. I believe that he put me on this journey for a reason. I better understand why I am going on this path and that it is with his guidance. I believe that his reason for putting me on this journey because he wants me to encourage others to stand up, speak out, and take care of each other who has less then us.
I believe that it was God’s plan for me to go through so many challenges to make me stronger. I believe that it was him who gave me the power to be able to speak out for myself. Which, lead to me speaking out against the discrimination, harassment, and bullying I faced in high school over my gender identity, and that led to me re-starting the Gay Straight Alliance at my high school which is still thriving. I believe it was him who gave me the strength to start Forward Equality back in 2010.
I believe that it was God’s plan for me not to get my kidney transplant at the University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC) Nebraska Medical Center so that I would go to the University of Iowa Hospital and Clinics (UIHC) and meet the great people of Council Bluffs, Iowa. In doing this, I got the wonderful opportunity to work (non-paid) on the Barack Obama re-election campaign, which taught me a lot in political campaigning. This created the opportunity for me to meet some truly amazing people in Council Bluffs, including Michele Lendt, Nancy Flores, Diane, Bob, Tom Dean, Connie Lairmore, Sue Hendricks, Linda Nelson, Chad Hannan, Melissa Head, Mike Gronstal, Leonard Boswell and many more. Living in Council Bluffs, gave me many great opportunities to learn and expand my knowledge to better work for my political goals of workers’ rights, healthcare for all, civil rights, adoption for all families, and safe schools.
I believe he gave me the courage to continue to fight for my life and to keep my head up while dealing with my illness, Cystinosis and all the crap it throws at me. I believe he is the reason my family had me participate in the clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland with Dr. William A. Gahl. That trial has lead to better understanding of the effects of Cystinosis and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approving the Cysteaminie eye drops which help reduce the formation of crystals on the corneas of my eyes. He gave me strength to keep fighting when I went into kidney failure and when things were quite difficult. He gave me the strength to not give up when it seemed hopeless. He continues to give me the strength to stay in the clinical trial at the NIH and help make lives better for future generations of kids with Cystinosis.
I believe it was God’s plan that Jon von Kampen donate his kidney to me. I believe this because how close of a match he was and because of how great my body has accepted his kidney. Here are my most recent lab results: Platelet Count 184, WBC (White Blood Cell) 7.2, Hemoglobin 13.7, Creatinine 0.8, BUN (Blood Urea Nitrogen) 10, CO2 23, Potassium 3.8. I am doing so well that the U of Iowa transplant team has lowed my dose of anti-rejection medications and has even cut one of my medications out of my regime.
I believe it was God’s plan to have me work to end oppression and stand up for those who have less then others. I believe it is his hand that leads me down the road into my field of politics, and my passion for medicine and wishing to help others with illnesses find the greatest healthcare professionals to help them.
With that said, I feel grateful to the Pottawatomie County Democratic Chair Linda Nelson for inviting me to speak at the Pott. County Women’s Dem lunch on December 2nd to speak about my story, my illness, and Forward Equality.