Pam was diagnosed at the age of 19 with Crohn’s Disease. She was a kid who always had stomach aches, and was finally diagnosed in collage. Her first treatments were steroids, sulphasalizine, and a low-residue diet for months on end, and she lucked into eight years of remission with very few symptoms. Then suddenly Crohn’s fought back - four hospitalizations and a dozen more ER visits. Eventually she was put on Imuran – so far so good. No IBD type surgeries (yay!), but a ton of IBD and medication related side effects and illnesses: severe fatigue, pain, arthritis, increased sensitivity to food/water-borne bacteria, diabetes, osteopenia, gall bladder disease, skin and eye issues, kidney stones, and she still has several mini-flares a year with severe pain for a few days and then weeks/months of worse-than-normal fatigue.
“I think I’m better able to put value in things other people take for granted. Most people my age are planning financially for their retirement. But I have to plan for the next flare, the cost of medication, hospitalization, and the day when I may be too sick to work. It changes your perspective. My “wants” are no longer material things – they are almost exclusively experiences that I’ve yet to have. I try to be grateful for everything good in my life. Sometimes I’m better at it than others.”
Pam dreams about a cure and less-toxic treatments. But she also dreams of being an athlete. “It’s completely against my nature since most of the time I’m happy curled up in blanket watching TV or reading a book. There’s a lot that Crohn’s has taken away from me. But I still have two legs so it seems like I should use them more.” She joined Team Challenge in order to scratch an item off her bucket list, and had no idea she would become part of such an amazing group of people. “My TC family helped me face a lot of things about my disease that I had ignored and hidden and they embraced me in a way I could never have imagined. It’s also allowed me to support others and that has been very healing for me.”
Eliza was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease at the age of 23. 6 months later she was having surgery to have part of her colon resected. Now, every day is different; she never knows if it’ll be good or bad. Eliza has had to give up a lot of foods she enjoyed because her Crohn’s doesn’t tolerate them. It used to make her feel very isolated.
Up until she found Team Challenge, Eliza didn’t have a whole lot of ways to get through things. She kept a lot of things to herself and just tried to pretend she was ok. Since she joined Team Challenge, she has learned to embrace what Crohn’s has given to her. Though she wouldn’t wish it upon anyone, it has really been a blessing in disguise for her as it brought some amazing things and people into her life.
Eliza dreams of a cure, for no more pain and suffering of anyone with IBD!! Someday, Eliza would like to become a mother, whether biological or adopted, she could care less!
When asked what she is most excited about in being a hero, she replied “I feel like maybe I can help people see that it’s okay to not be “okay” with your disease right away. I mean, who can just accept something that life changing right away? I love trying to make people happy and smile, I hate seeing people I care about hurting. I’ve seen the love first hand from the family you gain when you join TC, and it’s unlike anything else.”