As many of you know, I am a big supporter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). I am an alumnus of its Take Steps and Team Challenge programs, sat on the board of its Connecticut Chapter, and I am currently helping its New York City and Fairfield/Westchester Chapters develop communications strategies. I believe that they are the organization that has the most amount of clout in the inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) field and has the ability to create the most change and bring us closer to finding a cure for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
I recognize that there is some discontent in the IBD community over how CCFA engages with them. There have definitely been times when I have been unhappy with how they have responded to a certain article, their use of levity about a serious topic (clown shoes in the Escape the Stall campaign), and how slow they are, at times, to jump on the bandwagon with social media campaigns. That being said, with a $70 million budget, they remain the biggest player in the IBD world. Therefore, I believe that, regardless of your personal experiences with CCFA, it is an organization that we all should rely on for the well-being of those with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
I was recently given the opportunity to sit down with Rick Geswell, president and chief executive officer of CCFA, to learn more about him, about CCFA and its initiatives, the future of the organization, and the future of IBD treatment. I will be relaying my interview with him over several blog posts in the near future and to start, here is the first in the series- Meet Rick Geswell.
Disclaimer: The details I am reporting below are directly from Rick Geswell of CCFA and do not represent my personal beliefs (although many are aligned). If you want to know if I agree with something, please feel free to ask me in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I know that I have been radio silent on the blog for several months now, and I am sorry for that. Life has gotten very busy and the blog has taken a backseat to everything else. But I am still looking at the comments and am involved with the online IBD community- just to a lesser extent.
Two quick things before I get into this post-
- New Huffington Post piece is up- World IBD Day: It’s Not All Sunshine and Flowers
Now onto tonight’s post.
I have an incredible group of friends who all have IBD that I met through Team Challenge last year- Kelly (Crohn’s disease), Laura (Crohn’s disease), and Katie (ulcerative colitis). They all live in Connecticut and I was so sad to leave them last year when Dan and I moved for my job. It’s nights like tonight when I am reminded how much I truly love having them in my life.
Tonight I have been part of a group text message about things that these ladies have done while pooping (at one point, I had 43 unread messages). Summarizing it won’t do it justice, so I am just going to write it out verbatim for your enjoyment.
Recently, I was engaged in a Facebook argument (mature I know) with someone about whether or not Crohn’s disease could be cured. She (who doesn’t have the disease) was claiming that it could be cured by eliminating trigger foods from the patient’s died. I was trying to explain to her, with little success, that yes, if you eliminate trigger foods, some patients will experience a decrease in symptoms and subsequently may enter into a period of remission; however, that does not mean they are cured.
This argument really made me angry and I started to do a little digging online and was astounded to see how much misinformation there is out there. That is why I wrote this piece for the Huffington Post:
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are the two main diseases that make up the broad inflammatory bowel disease diagnosis. In patients with these diseases, the body’s immune system attacks parts of the digestive tract and causes inflammation, cramping, diarrhea, bleeding and all sorts of other issues.
According to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America, “To date, there is no known cause of or cure for IBD, but fortunately there are many effective treatments to help control these diseases.”
Medications, surgery, and diet modifications can help patients with inflammatory bowel diseases live regular lives. In patients with Crohn’s disease, neither of these treatments induces a cure; the best they do is bring a patient into a symptom-free state (remission, see below). Patients with ulcerative colitis can be treated with the surgical removal of the colon; however, surgery will not cure the underlying inflammatory disorder that the patients have, leaving them susceptible to pouchitis, arthritis, skin ulcers and other autoimmune diseases. The bottom line: When you have an inflammatory bowel disease, you have it for life.
Please take a look at the full piece here!
It’s that time of the year again.
Dan and I are back at it, raising money for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of American through its Team Challenge program. We will be training to run/walk in the Jamestown Half Marathon this July and we couldn’t be more excited!
Last year we raised $7,500 for CCFA and this year we are upping our goal and hoping to raise $10,000 in the name of research and education about these debilitating diseases.
Shop vintage, benefit CCFA!
From now until February 10, The Vintage Twin, an AWESOME vintage goods company specializing in one-of-a-kind vintage finds, is donating 10% of its online sales to our fundraising efforts for CCFA. Check out their awesome clothing, accessories and other goods and shop early & often!
Happy New Year’s Eve everyone!
This past year has been an exciting one for Dan and I, both online and offline. In the past year, Caring for Crohn’s & UC expanded incredibly- while I wrote far fewer posts than last year, the blog received over 19,000 views and gained This year, Caring for Crohn’s & UC exploded beyond my wildest dreams, having over 19,000 views by over 10,000 visitors, and gained 45 WordPress followers, 9 Tumblr followers, 131 Facebook fans and 213 Twitter followers. (Disclaimer: I am a huge analytics nerd, so please forgive me for being so excited over these numbers :-)) Thank you all SO much for your continued readership and support- while I haven’t kept up with posting as frequently as I want to, I am so happy that the content I wrote over the past two years has reached so many of you. It’s all in the name of raising awareness and educating others about inflammatory bowel diseases.
Enough about the numbers- here are some of my 2013 highlights.
I recently had the privilege of working on a piece for the Huffington Post with Stephanie from The Stolen Colon for Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis Awareness Week. The piece posted today and I wanted to share a snippet from it with you:
These diseases have been known primarily as “pooping diseases” because many patients frequent the bathroom as a result of the cramping and abdominal pain caused by IBD. However, there are many aspects of the disease that are far worse than spending time in the bathroom.
Here are 10 things you didn’t know about IBD:
IBD patients often take many medications with powerful side effects.
Patients with IBD often depend on medication to control the inflammation and pain caused by their disease. Medications commonly used include antibiotics, anti-inflammatories, steroids and immunosuppressants.
While beneficial, these medications can cause side effects including nausea, vomiting, heartburn, night sweats, insomnia, hyperactivity, high blood pressure and stunted growth in children. Patients on immunosuppressants are at risk of developing lymphoma, tuberculosis, kidney and liver damage, anaphylaxis, seizures, and serious or fatal infections.
IBD causes extraintestinal issues.
Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can cause issues in other parts of the body, including inflammation of the inner part of the eye, mouth sores, arthritis, osteoporosis, gallstones, kidney stones, skin rashes and ulcerations, blood clots, anemia and several neurological conditions, including seizures, stroke, myopathy, headaches and depression.
IBD can have significant impact on the mental health of patients.
According to Oak Park Behavioral Medicine, about 25 percent of people with IBD will experience depression even when in remission, and that number rises to 60 percent during a flare. Outside of depression, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America reports that patients with IBD often experience anxiety, denial, dependence, stress and poor self-image.
Having IBD is exorbitantly expensive.
The annual direct cost of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in the United States is estimated to be $6.1 billion. A recent study showed that the mean annual cost for a patient with Crohn’s was $8,265 and for ulcerative colitis was $5,066. Each patient’s situation differs, but the most common costs of IBD include diagnostic tests, hospitalizations, surgery and medications, some of which can cost as much as $10,000 per dose.
You can view the full piece here.
Happy Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week everyone!
Today marks the beginning of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week 2013 and more than ever, I can’t stress the importance of this week for raising awareness and educating others about inflammatory bowel diseases.
Before Dan was diagnosed, I didn’t know much about IBD. In fact I was one of those people who thought IBD and IBS were one in the same (I now know that they are most definitely not).
In the almost seven years since Dan was first diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, I have learned more about these debilitating diseases than I ever imagined I would. I have witnessed the good and the bad- colonoscopies, hospitalizations, surgeries, medications, tens of thousands of dollars in medical bills- you name it, Dan and I have been through it.
I have also been able to raise awareness and educate others who knew nothing about the disease learn about why Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not just pooping diseases. Through Team Challenge and Take Steps, over the past three years Dan and I raised over $21,000 for research and education of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
But I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting incredible people who are battling these diseases and have become my second inspiration for raising awareness.