Marcia Bell retires from the BCPRA executive committee – with much appreciation from the renal community.
After six years serving on the BC Renal Agency’s executive committee, kidney patient advocate Marcia Bell is stepping down – although she’s not ready to give up volunteering completely.
“I still have lots of energy and lots of commitment, but it feels like time to move on from this particular responsibility,” says the 68-year-old former teacher.
The BCPRA executive committee, made up of senior administrators and clinicians from the health authority renal programs, provides direction to BC’s regional renal programs to ensure consistent delivery of services across the province.
“I’ve had a unique opportunity as a patient to really understand what's being done on our behalf as well as to give input into what’s needed from a patient perspective,” says Marcia, who lives in Vernon with her husband.
Marcia was diagnosed with kidney disease – in her case a congenital condition – at age 15. “Basically my kidneys just weren’t working properly,” she says. “In a very short time I was left with only about 60 percent kidney function.”
She underwent several corrective surgeries but was always told that one day her kidneys would fail. That happened in her mid-40s. Marcia started peritoneal dialysis and then went to in-centre hemodialysis at Vancouver Hospital for two-and-a-half years. Eventually, she received a transplant, and is now celebrating 21 years as a transplant recipient.
“I feel really well – this kidney is functioning better than ever!!” says Marcia, a grandmother of three, with a daughter in Calgary and a son in Vancouver.
Despite her struggles with kidney disease, Marcia became a teacher and taught elementary and secondary school in both Victoria and Vancouver, including working with students who had learning disabilities. “I loved every minute of teaching,” she says.
Although she retired from teaching in her 40s due to illness, she has always maintained an active volunteer life. “In my 30s, I managed 200 candy stripers at Lion’s Gate Hospital!” she laughs. Marcia was the national president of the Kidney Foundation from 1997-1999, and also served as co-chair (with a scientist co-chair) of the Foundation’s research council. More recently she has been involved in volunteer leadership development for the Foundation. For the Renal Agency, as well as serving on the executive committee, she is part of the Nephrology Days planning committee – a role she will continue.
“It is really a privilege to serve in a volunteer capacity with the dedicated people involved in renal care,” says Marcia. “We are so fortunate in Canada to have this network including the Renal Agency and the Kidney Foundation.”
On moving to Vernon three and a half years ago – preferring a smaller community – Marcia became a board member for the North Okanagan Hospice Society. “I love living in Vernon, and I’ve become quite involved with hospice up here,” she says. Marcia is also involved in what she calls “lifelong learning,” participating regularly in continuing education programs at UBC and the Banff Centre.
She and her husband are avid travellers, having been to Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Russia, Scandinavia, and much of Europe. “China is still on our list!” she says. On behalf of the renal community in BC, thank you, Marcia!