Honored Heroes

Patient Honored Hero: Jack Farley

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I was diagnosed with Crohns disease in 2nd grade - I was 8. Less than a year later, I was diagnosed with Rheumatoid arthritis. The year leading up to my diagnoses, I had been battling stomach pains and slow weight gain but even worse were the joint aches that made it difficult to do the things every other 8 year old took for granted -- like getting in and out the of car and walking up a flight of stairs - let alone the activities that really made me happy -- football, baseball and basketball.

I was too young to fully understand the diagnosis - in my head it meant lots of annoying trips to doctors; weird side effects from the meds; painful, high anxiety inducing weekly shots and constant attempts by my mom to 'get me to eat healthy' which translated to 'stop eating the foods that I love.' I think it really sank in when I heard my mom refer to my 'disease.' A disease was scary, something other people got - not ME.

For most of elementary school, my Crohns was managed through a series of meds. Some worked better and longer than others. Through the highs and lows, I did everything I could to lead a 'normal' life. It wasn't that I was hiding the disease, my family and friends all knew, it just wasn't something I dwelled on. By the time I got to high school, I was settled into the routine of Remicade infusions, which had me in remission for the most part and enjoying all the things I loved like football, friends, participating in Take Steps -- and best of all growing.
I worked really hard in high school and was rewarded with an opportunity to play college football out of state. The transition to an out of state school was not without some challenges -- I traded a full, open all the time kitchen for food service menus and hours which required some diet adjustments. I transitioned from the care of Drs and nurses I'd know for years at Seattle Children's Hospital to an adult Dr I'd never met. Remicade afternoons with my mom were replaced with ubers alone to my new infusion center. With time, I found my routine and settled in well.

I'm 21 now, I'm going to school, live in an apartment with friends, coach football and work in a restaurant. I haven't always practiced the best self care but Im learning how to eat better, the importance of regular exercise and recovery. I'm incredibly fortunate to have the love and support of my family and friends. I couldn't be more proud to say this is My Team's 10th year participating in Take Steps, during which time my family and friends have generously helped me raise close to $35,000 in pursuit of finding a cure. Please join me as we get together in person this year to walk for a cure to IBD.

Healthcare Honored Hero: Dr. Uma Pisharody

Pisharody.jpgDr. Uma Pisharody is a pediatric gastroenterologist who has been a passionate voice for her patients with IBD since the time of her fellowship, recalling the first time she was inspired to fundraise for Take Steps in New Orleans, about 15 years ago. She remembers feeling so grateful to the local chapter that had designated one of her patients as their local honored hero that year and recognizing the impact the CCF community played in supporting and healing her patients, she decided to participate in the Walk that year. Since moving to Seattle in 2009, Dr. Pisharody has served as the team captain for Swedish Medical Center’s Take Steps Team (initially named “Swedish Squirts”, later renamed to “Team Swedish, Just Doo It!”) and continues to be a passionate patient advocate and active member of our local Northwest Chapter.

Upon hearing the news of being selected as the chapter’s inaugural Healthcare Honored Hero this year, Dr. Pisharody remarked, “I’m excited, grateful, and humbled. The real heroes are the patients, the children, their families – they are the ones who have the courage to face this disease day after day. And I honor the heroic trailblazing physician-scientists who make my day-to-day work in treating kids with IBD easier, through research funded by the CCF and kind and generous donors across the globe.”

It was Dr. Pisharody’s love of kids that made her enter medical school and choose pediatrics as her career path. In her experience treating kids with IBD, she’s come to realize that she and her patients have so much to be grateful for, especially when it comes to having the support of an amazing foundation that puts curing this disease at their forefront. “Whether it’s through benefiting from the results of breakthrough scientific research funded by the CCF, or through the camaraderie and support patients/families receive through the CCF community, I know IBD care would not be the same without the CCF. I’m so grateful for all that the organization has given to me and my patients, that I consider it my privilege to give back through the spirit of volunteerism. It’s the least I can do.”

In learning of being chosen as the Healthcare Honored Hero this year, Dr. Pisharody says she’s “stoked to use this platform” to encourage her colleagues to become more engaged with Take Steps, showing them that the voices of healthcare providers can make a huge difference when it comes to fundraising. “After all,” she says, “we all need the CCF in our day-to-day practices, as we do try our best to help patients get the best treatments at the right time. If not for the funds we raise for the CCF to promote life-saving research, we wouldn’t have the benefit of the drugs and other therapies this research has helped to discover!”

The Northwest Chapter chose Dr. Pisharody as the 2022 Healthcare Honored Hero, not only because she’s been a physician taking care of our local IBD pediatric patients, but to also honor the time and commitment she’s shown to the CCF community in her longstanding career as a pediatric gastroenterologist. For nearly a decade, she has served as a medical volunteer at our region’s Camp Oasis, the residential summer camp for kids with IBD, having also been selected to serve as the camp’s co-medical director since 2020. Dr. Pisharody has also served as a member of the NW Chapter Medical Advisory Committee since 2010 and volunteered her time to speak at many of our chapter’s educational events, where she's shared her knowledge and expertise. And of course, under her leadership, Swedish’s team at Take Steps has been the region’s top medical group fundraiser for 5 years in a row, with their 2021 fundraising achievements winning them the much-coveted, top spot nationally!

When we asked Dr. Pisharody what makes her such a passionate supporter of the CCF year after year, she replied, “well…first and foremost, it’s the kids and knowing all the support they receive from the Foundation! How can I but do anything and everything in my power to help fundraise for the amazing foundation that helps improve the lives of these children? Secondly, it’s fun! It’s fun to compete with other regional medical groups, egging each other on, to see which of us can beat each other in raising funds! And then, it’s just pure joy when we all show up, healthcare providers from across the region, walking together each spring, to share in community spirit. It’s so gratifying to see the smiles on the faces of the kids and their parents as we join efforts to walk together to find cures for IBD. I participate year and after, hoping to honor my past, present, and future patients. I want to inspire all my colleagues to do the same, because I know the families love to see how much their local and personal health care team supports them.”

With her platform as the 2022 Healthcare Honored Hero, Dr. Pisharody hopes to encourage all her colleagues again this year, showing them how fun and meaningful fundraising for a good cause can be. “By participating in Take Steps, it gives us a pleasure to not only talk the talk, but literally walk the walk of putting our heart and soul into a cause near and dear to our hearts” she says.

 

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