ST. PETERSBURG — That Monday in April of 2000 is a memorable day for Janice Starling-Williams. On that day, a hospital stay to treat high blood pressure unveiled more shocking and disturbing news. The news of being diagnosed with kidney failure forever changed her life. It is also changing the lives of many others.
“The doctor said that my kidneys were failing. At that moment it was the most devastating time of my life,” said Starling-Williams.
She wanted to give up, feeling as if all life was lost. Even though she had the support of her family, she felt alone and even betrayed by God.
“Then, the spirit of God spoke and reminded me of Romans 8:28 which says, ‘All things work together for the good.’ I needed to stand on his promise.”
In remembering her emotions and faith that one April day, Starling-Williams founded the All Kidney Patient Support Group to be a support to others who are experiencing kidney failure.
On Saturday, Jan. 13, the All Kidney Patient Support Group and other medical partners presented a “Community Medical Mall” at the Transformed: Community Unity Day as a project of the MLK Day of Service.
The Community Medical Mall was designed to educate, empower and inspire the community by introducing health messages, interactive conversations and educational presentations to raise awareness of all the tools needed to maintain and develop a healthy lifestyle. The mall provided massages, healthy food and prizes to entertain and involve everyone in an atmosphere of fun and learning.
“We wanted to have a holistic approach to bringing together a variety of various health providers to improve the quality of individual’s lives through empowerment and health advocacy,” said Starling-Williams. “Health is the main factor for an individual to be able to move forward in this difficult world due to challenges of poverty, racism, sexism and sexual violence.”
The Medical Mall included vendors and professionals involved in providing health services to the community including Infinity Health Consultants, St. Petersburg Chapter of Black Nurses, Dr. Michael McPherson Chiropractor, Life Link Florida, Dr. Dan Pediatric Dental Health, Dr. Bob Wallace Love Is The Golden Rule, Yolanda Johnson from JIG, Hillary Johnson Natural Health Advocate, Davita Kidney Centers and Megan Manley from Stretch and Grow.
Starling-Williams expressed that we must always be aware of what is going on with our own body and not to ignore changes, signs or symptoms that may avoid chronic illness if detected early.
That memorable day in April 2000 may have presented Starling-Williams with awful and dreadful news, but it also has ignited a passion inside of her to fight for the right to live and afforded her the opportunity to travel and encourage others with her story.
Had she not been diagnosed with kidney failure, then there would not be an All Kidney Patient Support Group helping others survive the disease.
Dr. Martin Luther King’s quote regarding health reads: “Put yourselves in a state of mind where you say to yourself, ‘Here is an opportunity for me to celebrate like never before, my own power, my own ability to get myself to do whatever is necessary.”