Honored Heroes are ambassadors for Take Steps and the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation as a whole. As patients and healthcare professionals, they are the voice and face, the heart and soul of our walks. Honored Heroes are nominated annually and help raise awareness of IBD through their promotions and fundraising for Take Steps in their local community. They are dedicated to publicly sharing their story and providing a strong example of progress we are making in the fight against IBD. Their commitment to increasing awareness and revenue by engaging their community, family and friends is truly inspiring.
Greater Bay Area Honored Hero 2021 - Sebastian della Cava!
I had a lot of stomach aches growing up. I didn't think much of them and the doctors attributed them to my diet. Then came the summer of 2020. The world was in the middle of a pandemic year, and my family had finally managed to get away to some open space for a break. Everyone was looking forward to it. But the long drive there and two weeks were brutally difficult for me. I spent them in pain. Losing blood. Worried. Doctors didn’t mince words following a battery of tests: I needed to get to Benioff Children’s Hospital in Oakland as fast as I could for tests to be run. Not long after, my world changed as I joined those around the planet who suffer from IBD. I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis at age 16, a rising high school junior, an especially tricky time when you're particularly focused on school, friends, and activities.
There were two ways to go. Despair or resilience. Flight or fight. There was no question which path I would choose. And so began my journey to understand what was happening to me and the ways in which I could keep myself as healthy as possible. That meant learning. It meant changes: to my mindset, to my diet, to my habits.
A silver lining quickly started to emerge. A passion for fitness – both physical and nutritional – became my lifeline. Between time in the kitchen and gym, I soon learned how to best pursue my fitness goals while maintaining critical nutritional requirements. Sometimes I would learn the (very!) hard way what food wasn’t compatible, or what workouts pushed me too far. But in the journey, I found tremendous strength and empathy for others that I possibly might never have discovered if it weren’t for my condition.
I am so grateful. I’ve managed to take a negative and turn it into many positives for my life that include feeling good and looking good. But by far the best byproduct so far has been to be able to share my story with others and hopefully serve as proof that a diagnosis that can sound like the end of the world can actually be the start of a new, and better, life.
Needless to say, this has not been a journey taken alone. I owe so much to my parents, Courtney and Marco, my brother, Nick, and all far-flung relatives, all of whom showered me with love and encouragement. As critical of course was – and is – my amazing team at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital – David Drevno, Sabina Ali, and Susan Hilk - and my new friends at the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation.
I am so honored to be able to continue to share my story with others as we work together to find solutions that will make it easier to live with this disease in the years to come. Register to join us on June 12th and support Team Seb.
By supporting the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation, you are helping to make a difference in the lives of IBD patients’ like mine!