Marcy's Story
Marcy's Story

Written By Melissa Stoneburner

Marchelle (Marcy) Rzepka is one truly unique individual that the world would be privileged to get to know – beginning with the world of people facing kidney disease. Marcy is currently 53 years old. In 2015 she was diagnosed with Stage 3 kidney disease which was reversible but due to a gamut of other issues, decided to put the diagnosis on the back burner.

Marcy was at the time grieving the sudden loss of her younger brother, Mark Weaver, who had moved alone to Iowa, and on top of it all found out that she, as a young woman, had this chronic disease. She believed at the time that kidney disease would not control her, she would control it.

To help her maintain through her period of grief, Marcy wanted to have Mark’s death have a positive outcome, so together with her mother, Beverly Weaver, Rzepka came up with an acronym for Mark’s name that she could work with later – as she felt more comfortable with her grief. Thus the beginning workings of the MARK Advocacy Group which stands for Memories Are Respectfully Kept.

Rzepka was Mark’s advocate and witnessed the reasons for not only his health issues but the emotional and psychological aspects that resulted because of the health issues. Mark never felt that he had a voice when it came to his health and all of the problems that resulted because the medical professionals, as opposed to listening, formed their own opinions about this man in his 30’s and decided the best way to deal with him was to stereotype him and fill him with drugs that only added to his difficulties.

When Marcy saw what was happening to her brother and then witnessed first-hand the changes that occurred when she changed insurances and doctors after her move, she would have to step up for herself and not become merely a number. She wanted the result to be an honor to her brother Mark, not something she was just doing because she was sick.

Rzepka, with her sales background, compares her chronic illness to purchasing a new car. She states that once you look for the car, you choose the color and the other features you believe to be unique to yourself, but soon learn that everybody has purchased the same automobile of the same color with the same features. She draws the parallel by explaining that when it comes to kidney disease, once she mentions she has it, so many others around her have the same disease or know someone suffering from it.

It took a few years, but Marcy finally found what she wanted to have her brother’s name represent: she wanted the MARK Advocacy Group to be there for all people, of every age, ethnicity, and financial background to have a place they could turn to in order to learn to be the captain of their own team; forming their group with people that hear them and support them – real-sounding boards. She wants people to understand that just because a doctor has a degree, they are not God; that doctors cannot dictate your care. Only you have the choice to accept or deny their suggestions. You don’t have to simply deal with what they want.

Rzepka realizes, just because she has a strong personality, that others can advocate for themselves with the help of their team. It is a lot of work since chronic diseases are not handled very well. She wants to aid others in realizing that they may need to remind their healthcare workers that they got into their profession to help people, not dictate care.

When others hear that Marcy has kidney disease, they automatically assume she is on dialysis. This is not the case and, in her world, will never be an option. She is going the donor route, and although it is not easy, she has found a doctor that is helping her through this process; one who agrees with her and works side-by-side with her and her choices. Perhaps it is because he is of Bosnian descent perhaps it is because he actually listens to his patients that Dr. Basic is such a positive force. He doesn’t go simply the pharmaceutical route but encompasses homeopathic care into his procedures.

Sometimes Rzepka feels like the Pied Piper, a person others naturally want to follow. She knows something needs to be done, so with the MARK Advocacy Group she knows she can do just that. So the foundation is being constructed to teach people, whether they are strong personalities or not, that each case is individualized to the person; to display the need for a team, not leaving a player alone on the field. As Marcy says, she wants her team members to walk beside her, not behind her.

She is so excited to share her story as well as other people’s stories. She wants everyone to realize that they have a voice whether they have kidney disease, diabetes, or heart disease. She wants everyone to be heard – patients and caregivers alike. Just because she needs a donor kidney, perhaps with her help and the help of the foundation, someone else can get by without needing a kidney. That may be the simple change in diet and supplements can be the change needed to prevent the disease from progressing.

Marcy realized through the procedure of building her foundation that one of the biggest things she wants people to learn is that there are others out there that they can reach out to for support. “There is something better out there,” Rzepka wants others to realize. “Surround yourself with people who understand.”

There are days that throwing in the towel would be a likely option, but after thinking about family and her team of supporters, Marcy goes back to her own mantra: Be your true authentic self. Keep going. To her, quitting is not the right thing, not just because she is a go-getter, but because it would defeat her intentions to help others who may not be able to advocate well for themselves….yet.

Marcy Rzepka, the founder of the MARK Advocacy Group wants to share this: Truly this is your time here on Earth. How you decide to live it is up to you. Pick your team wisely. Enjoy every minute you are here. Both she and her foundation are here to help! Please reach out.