Stephen's Story

Stephen KalishI was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when I was 16, just as I had started my junior year of high school. For the most part, my case was mild, and medicine was able to keep the disease in remission. This lasted for about 12 years, until my body eventually built-up resistance to these medications. That was when things started to go downhill for me.

At the same time and point in my life I was going through other major changes. I was establishing myself in my career and was thrilled to be newly engaged to the love of my life, Dana. Unfortunately, the adjustment to new medications was taking a toll, and my health was deteriorating. I was in and out of the hospital constantly and became very familiar with the ER staff. I was being treated by a new doctor, who told me that I needed surgery to prevent my disease from getting worse.

I was blessed to have not only a wonderful doctor (Dr. Swaminath), but a tremendously supportive fiancé, who was there every time I went to the hospital. After my surgeries (yes, it was a two-part surgery), I was thankful to be healthy enough to walk down the aisle, and six months later we were married.

Soon after we were married, my wife Dana and I were thrilled to learn that we were expecting our first child. Unfortunately, our beautiful daughter Noa passed away soon after she was born with an incurable and previously undetected disease. This unthinkable tragedy, the hardest thing we have ever lived through, coincided with a resurgence of my Crohn’s and the stress exacerbated my condition. Several months later I was back in the hospital and had another surgery for a minor resection.

My story is unique, but everyone who has lived with IBD can relate to the roller coaster of an experience on our health and the toll it takes on our loved ones. I am happy to say that today, Dana and I have two healthy children, our daughter Dylan and our son Blake. Our dog Joey, who joined us soon after Noa passed and is a pure joy to all of us, rounds up the pack.

I came across the Take Steps walk while I was in the hospital recovering from my second surgery. Dana thought it would be a good idea to get involved with the Foundation and meet people that were going through a similar experience and who would understand my story. Since then, I have been actively involved in the Foundation and Take Steps, serving on the NYC Executive Council. The Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation has done more for me than I could ever express here, and I only hope to be able to give back even a fraction of what I have received!

I cannot wait to bring my family to the Take Steps walk this year and have them share in this honor that I am so humbled to receive. I am thrilled to be the 2022 New York City Take Steps Adult Honored Hero and look forward to seeing you all on June 16 at the South Street Seaport as we Take Steps together for IBD cures!