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Actor raising kidney disease awareness

By Kat Carney
CNN Headline News

Danny Glover and his late father James, in a photo from the book "Hats For Every Head" by Ruth Garland-Dewson.

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(CNN) -- Movie star and political activist Danny Glover is best known for his role as Sgt. Roger Murtaugh in the Lethal Weapon films, and it's his warm-hearted relationship with Mel Gibson's character which keeps movie patrons coming back.

But when I caught up with Glover recently, he told me how his "real-life" relationship with his late father is one he cherishes the most.

"I have great memories of my father. He was absolutely the most beautiful man I ever met in my life," Glover said.

In 2001, James Glover passed away from complications related to kidney disease.

His son, however, says that his father faced his six-year battle with the disease with determination and a positive attitude.

"He had the correct disposition for anyone who had to deal with dialysis. He said, 'Son, I treat this like a job.' He was there on time, never missed a day at all during the whole process. He was a perfect candidate for someone who had to go through dialysis. "

When asked how much he knew about kidney disease at the time his father was diagnosed, Glover replied, "My father wasn't diabetic. He hadn't had a history of kidney problems. So I didn't know a great deal about his situation. I learned a bit more about kidney failure. "

According to The National Kidney Foundation, more than 20 million Americans, one in nine adults, suffer from chronic kidney disease.

Symptoms of chronic kidney disease can include leg swelling, nausea, urinary problems and anemia.

Glover talks about the ways the disease had an impact on his and his father's lives.

"The kidney failure did not have an immediate impact. We were able to do some things still. When anemia set in -- it was only then when you felt a difference and saw the difference.

"At first you thought that his chronic fatigue, his coldness, his lack of appetite, his lethargy was all connected to a progression of his kidney failure," Glover said. "But we learned that through diagnosis that it wasn't. Once he was treated for anemia, he was able to kind of revitalize his life."

Danny Glover
Kidney disease

Glover currently is a paid spokesman for an anemia awareness campaign sponsored, in part, by a manufacturer of anemia medications.

But Glover does more than just talk the talk; he walks the walk -- literally.

In the past year, he has participated in many fund-raising walks sponsored by The National Kidney Foundation.

"When you march in some of these walks, you march with caretakers who had stories. You march with the families of men and women and children who had chronic kidney diseases," Glover says.

Glover says it is important for him "because we had a story, a face and, I believe, a genuine concern. [We were] concerned people together . . . affected people together."

He recounts what it meant to him personally to be able to share stories with families who had gone through the same thing.

"For me personally, it was a way of healing. I had an opportunity to honor my father."

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