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Finding Joy throughout the Holidays

For Kanehe, Hawaii resident Peter J. Jones, life took an unexpected turn when he was told his kidneys were failing and he would eventually end up on dialysis. Years of being driven by success, working long hours, and really not taking the time to care about his well-being, finally caught up with him. Even though he experienced a range of emotions at the time he received this diagnosis, three years later he is able to see how this journey has changed him and now believes that it is the best thing that ever happened to him.

“My life is nothing like it was. It’s better and more fulfilling,” said Peter. “I have really learned to slow down and start finding joy in everything around me. I’ve realized that as bad as my situation is, there are others that are far worse. I have really become more aware of that and realize that there is a lot I can do to start helping those who are suffering and are in need.”

Through dialysis treatments at DSI’s Ko’Olau Dialysis facility located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, Peter has been able to meet and share a special bond with people he now considers family. He understands the highs and lows they are experiencing while dealing with the hardship of kidney disease and receiving weekly dialysis treatments. He especially knows that around the holiday season patients feel more emotional and tend to be down on their luck. He felt as though he had an opportunity to change that and offer some encouragement through the holiday season.

The holidays are supposed to be a festive time of year and an opportunity to be with family, but many of the dialysis patients in Peter’s clinic didn’t see it that way. In fact, some patients didn’t have any family or were unable to travel to see family because of their illness. For those patients, being lonely only added to the bleakness they already felt. Even patients that were surrounded by happiness still endured feelings of hopelessness. To help boost the spirits of those around him, Peter wanted to find a way they could embrace all the holiday cheer and bring about positivity and start the New Year refreshed and with a renewed sense of hope. Peter decided to host a holiday party centered on celebrating life and hope for patients, families and friends.

“Holidays can be a stressful time for most, but for those suffering with illnesses, it can be also be depressing,” said Peter. “Not only did I want to provide something for them to look forward to, but

I also wanted to create a lasting memory for their families. Living with an illness, we are all far too aware of how this might be the last holiday we all share together.”

Recently Peter received a sad reminder of how true that is. Last year, a new patient started dialysis at the DSI Ko’Olau clinic along with her husband, and they both attended the holiday party. Shortly after the New Year, Peter received word that the wife had passed away, but the husband was forever grateful to Peter and what he did. He told Peter while at the party, that was the first time in awhile he had seen his wife so happy and full of life. She had such a wonderful time celebrating the holidays with her family, friends and her care team. For that brief moment she was able to just focus on the joy of the holiday season and forget about how sick she really was. He was so thankful to have that last memory of her be one filled with happiness.

Peter says that is exactly why he does it. Peter just hosted his 3rd annual holiday party on December 14, 2014. Through a combination of donations and his own money, he was able to provide another wonderful event filled with laughter, food and fellowship. He made sure every patient left with a gift and he also planned many activities for everyone to participate. From a magician and balloon artist, to Santa Claus himself, Peter made sure this celebration had everything to keep guests entertained and focused on their loved ones.

“Three years ago I never would have thought of myself as the person I am today. I was so bitter and didn’t understand why this was happening, only now am I finally able to see why. I needed to slow down and I guess it took my kidneys failing to realize that. Though my life might not be filled with the luxuries I was spending my money and time on, it’s now filled with more friendships, more peace, more time to help others, and I have found these new types of luxuries have lead to far more greater success than I could have ever imagined.”