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You can build a life after Crohn’s diagnosis

There are many ways to live a fuller life with Crohn’s disease.

Managing Crohn’s disease takes much more than just medicine. Diagnosed nearly eight years ago during my junior year of high school, I’ve learned that one of the most powerful ways to cope with the disease is to build a strong community of support. I feel lucky that I have found that support not only from my family and friends, but also through my engagement with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

Several weeks ago, I volunteered at Camp Oasis, a camp put on by the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for kids with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in Bruceville. As I reflect upon the week I spent as a camp counselor, I am struck by the lasting impact Camp Oasis has had on me over the past six years I’ve served as a volunteer.

Camp Oasis provides a much-needed support and sense of community for children with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Since all the campers, and many of the volunteers and staff, are living with inflammatory bowel disease, or IBD, Camp Oasis is transformative because it allows kids who often feel very isolated to realize that they are not alone.

When I was first diagnosed, I remember feeling a mixture of fear and relief. Relief that I knew what was wrong with me, but fear that I wouldn’t be able to live a “normal” life. As a counselor living with IBD, it is so rewarding to witness campers grow beyond their disease, gain confidence and independence, create lifelong friendships and just enjoy being kids.

Ever since my first summer at Camp Oasis, I’ve felt called to be a proactive patient advocate for the other 1.6 million people who have IBD. Like many of us, when I was diagnosed, I had never even heard of Crohn’s disease. That’s why I’m so passionate about raising awareness. I believe that by educating the public, patients and legislators, and by funding research, we are truly having an impact on the future of the disease.

In May 2016, I had the opportunity to travel to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation’s “Day on the Hill” in Washington, D.C., to talk with state legislators from Texas about the importance of research, development and access to care for patients with debilitating diseases.

I’ve definitely experienced ups and downs in my health over the years, including having to have surgery to remove my appendix, 18 inches of my small intestine and 3 inches of my colon. But if I could tell my 17-year-old high school self about the journey I would go on and the community that would become so important to me, I know she would be proud.

I’m currently in my second year of law school, studied abroad in Europe this past summer, and just completed a summer clerkship with Disability Rights Texas, an organization devoted to helping Texans with disabilities.

Crohn’s disease does not define me, nor does it stop me from achieving my goals. Every day I overcome some sort of obstacle and choose to take power over the disease. I’m proud of myself and of every patient I know who makes it to school or work every day, and continue to be amazed by the patients who participate in extracurriculars on top of that.

Read full article: You can build a life after Crohn’s diagnosis – San Antonio Express-News

Read Full Article: You can build a life after Crohn’s diagnosis – San Antonio Express-News 

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