82-year-old Georgia woman takes kidney dialysis with her on cruises

At 82, Sandra Cannon is a huge traveler.

"I am blessed that I have a lot of energy and a lot of stamina," the Kennesaw grandmother says. "I'm a Diamond member of Royal Caribbean, so that will just tell you how many cruises I've been on."

Her favorite island is Bermuda.

"I really don't care where I go, as long as I go," Cannon laughs.

But when Cannon's kidneys began to quickly fail in 2018, she says, she thought her island-hopping days were over.

"I was sleeping all day, Cannon says. "I couldn't keep my house up, and I didn't feel like going on trips. You feel, It's just like somebody unplugs you."

Because she had an ileostomy from an earlier intestinal surgery, Cannon says, she was told her only option was traditional hemodialysis, which would going to a kidney care center 3 times a week for several hours while a machine filtered the waste from her blood.

"That's not my lifestyle, because it's too restrictive," she says. "I was not going to go on "hemo," and I told them I knew who my good Lord was, and I was ready, and I had no qualms with it."

But, with help from her son and surgeon, Cannon found another option in June 2021: home dialysis, something she could do in her sleep.

It is known as peritoneal dialysis.

Cannon has a tube that was surgically placed in her belly, that each night she connects to this machine the team at Fresenius Kidney Care in Acworth has taught her how to use.

"It talks to me, it tells me every little step to do," Cannon says. "You have to be extremely sanitary, but we all should be anyway."

While Cannon sleeps, the machine pumps cleansing fluid into her belly, where it sits for 4 to 6 hours, filtering waste from the tiny blood vessels in the lining of her abdomen.

That fluid then drains out into a waste collection bag.

"You're doing it seven days a week, for about 8 hours," Cannon says. "The good thing about it, is, everybody's got to sleep, and it does it while I'm sleeping! It doesn't wake me up. The machine is real quiet."

On a recent Caribbean cruise, she took her supplies with her.

"They delivered them to the ship," she says. "I did my thing every night, would disconnect in the morning, and had a full day every single day."

Sandra Cannon feels like she's proof kidney failure doesn't mean life is over.

"I do everything I did before I was on dialysis," she says. "It hasn't slowed me down whatsoever!"