Learning to share my story
The Crohn's & Colitis Foundation has been the number one reason I am able to talk about my Crohn's disease and be open about how IBD affects my life. In 2005, I was diagnosed with Crohn's disease at age 7. My parents urged me to get involved by suggesting I attend Foundation-run support groups for children or attend Camp Oasis, but I was always hesitant. Even though I have had the disease since a young age, it took me years to come to terms with my severe Crohn's.
Before becoming involved with the Foundation, I had a hard time finding patients my age who, like myself, missed month after month of school, failed on many medications, had a G-tube for feedings, and eventually a colectomy all by age 12. I desperately wanted to meet patients around my age who I could really relate to, but until I was willing to put myself out there and share bits and pieces of my story with other IBD patients, I knew I would not get the sense of community I wanted.
Finally, I attended Camp Oasis as a Leader in Training (LIT). This one-week experience was truly life-changing. I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to meet all the incredible people I encountered there. Since then, I have participated in Take Steps walks, shared my story, and helped educate newly diagnosed patients.
As a student at the University of Maryland, I am now also on the Foundation's National Council of College Leaders (NCCL). The NCCL has helped me grow as a leader and provided me with opportunities to reach other patients, network, and advocate. I have met the most amazing people on the NCCL, and they inspire me everyday to persevere through hard times. I am excited to continue working with the Foundation through my college years and beyond.