GNA Success Stories – Kayla Havens

Get to know Kayla Havens and her incredible story

“I was thirteen when I was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease. Wegner’s disease completely destroyed my kidneys and left me on dialysis awaiting a new kidney on the transplant list. During high school, I had to learn to manage being a teenager with all my medical conditions. My senior year, I had to cope with the anger of my sister’s suicide, while helping with my six-month-old nephew until he was formally adopted to my eldest sister. Growing up, these two incidents were substantial to me. I learned to keep everything inside while everything around me was in chaos. I believe, as kids, we learn to deal with ways to cope that are better for the environment we live in. It is not always the best way, but a way we learn to survive without going insane while under someone else’s roof.

It was not until I was in my Master’s program that I learned I was severely sick again. I was put back on dialysis and it was killing me. I stopped breathing multiple times; I had to be life-flighted a few times to the hospital. I was unconscious with a breathing tube in my throat while my family said goodbye, since everyone was unsure if I would make it. I survived, and once I was able to get a kidney transplant again, I worked very hard to become the best me I could be. I received my Master’s in school counseling, and I moved away to another city to find a job.

I worked very hard in therapy to overcome the abuse that I received growing up from an absent father and mentally ill mother. I learned different ways to have coping skills. I learned how to overcome my depression, anxiety and PTSD. I learned how to build boundaries and make a healthier lifestyle for myself. The best thing about having to go through all of that? As a school counselor, I can help my students become the best they can be to achieve their goals. I can be there for them in a way no one was there for me.”

Kayla Havens, 2012
School Counselor