By Marshall Cheatham, candidate for kidney transplant

For more than three years I have been going to dialysis three times a week for five hours at a time. Dialysis is keeping me alive while I anxiously wait to receive my Gift of Life.

Years ago, after I went to my primary care doctor for a checkup, he noticed my creatinine was high and there was protein in my urine. He referred me to a nephrologist where I learned my kidneys were only functioning at 30 percent. I had no idea I was sick! My nephrologist prescribed medication, and for two years, I maintained my health and a sense of normalcy.

Then one day in January of 2014 everything changed. While at work, I started to feel very ill. My boss told me to go home and I called my wife to tell her. She thought I sounded off and after we hung up, she called my doctor who said I should head straight to the emergency department.

Once I arrived at the hospital, they immediately started me on dialysis. I remember nurses starting IVs and a whole rush of people around me. I was very, very ill and truly didn’t know what was happening.

It was only a few days later I learned I would need a kidney transplant. I was shocked. The day I heard those words, mortality hit me hard. I just couldn’t believe it.

I don’t want to be a downer, but life on dialysis is hard. Thankfully, I have a supportive family and am strong in my faith. Otherwise, I am not sure I would have endured the mental and physical toll it takes on me every time I arrive at the dialysis center. It is very hard for my life to be on hold while it seems as though everyone else is busy living.

When a donor and the precious Gift of Life does come my way, I have a bucket list prepared! First, I want to take a trip out west to see the Grand Canyon with my wife. I want to travel to Atlanta to see my two daughters and my grandbaby. Almost above all, I can’t wait to return to the Columbus Saints. I founded the Saints in 2003 – we are a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering music education and performance excellence in the marching arts within Central Ohio. Drumming has been my passion for so long – I can’t wait to return with full force and continue the work we do with kids in Columbus.

People often ask me what it’s like to wait. With nearly 100,000 Americans waiting for a life-saving kidney transplant, my advice to people like me is to not get bogged down in the waiting process. Instead, focus on something you can throw yourself into. Find a purpose and a reason to live. Occupy your time and the waiting time will not feel so long.

. Give hope to those waiting, like me. Thank you.