At the beginning of June we will run the Virginia Wine Country Half Marathon to raise money for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA), a non-profit dedicated to finding a cure for Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD); a spectrum of diseases impacting over 1.4 million Americans. Sadly, the cause of IBD is unknown and there is no cure.
My story begins about nine years ago when I was diagnosed with Crohn's Disease, an autoimmune inflammatory bowel disease that can affect any part of your digestive tract. Just months after being diagnosed, my health took a turn for the worse when my body simply gave up. I was admitted to Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C. in February 2004, where I underwent extremely uncomfortable procedures and was treated for 10 days, slowly nursing my body back to health.
Living with Crohn's is a daily challenge. I follow a strict diet and a complex and rigid medication schedule. When eating out with friends, it is sometimes a struggle to find a "Marnina friendly restaurant." I may feel perfectly fine one moment but find myself running to a bathroom the next. However, I try not to let my diagnosis stop me. My positive outlook continues to motivate me to fight back and do what it takes to stay healthy. I am eternally grateful for my current medications as they allow me to lead an active and normal life despite my Crohn's.
Last Spring I trained with Team Challenge and completed my first half-marathon, raising $7,500 through fundraisers on behalf of CCFA. On June 4, 2011, I crossed the finish line in Virginia, joyous. I realized that I'd gone above and beyond—I had successfully run a half marathon in spite of my Crohn's Disease. Now I am returning to run and train again, this time as a mentor to other participants.
When reflecting on my journey so far with Crohn's, I am extremely proud of where it has taken me, to the people I've met who inspired me. As a result, I'm working towards becoming a leader in global health to improve the quality of life for those less fortunate worldwide. Living with Crohn's may be a challenge, but if you take care of yourself and listen to your body, it won't hold you down.
Read more about my story here.
After meeting Marnina 5+ years ago and learning about her disease, I took a serious interest in learning everything I could about Crohn's Disease. While she has shared her Crohn's journey with me hundreds of times, there are aspects of the disease that I am still curious about. Through my relationship with Marnina, I became interested in looking at ways to deal nutritionally with chronic diseases, which led us to create the food blog I Be a fooDie: Cooking with Crohn's and Colitis in an effort to provide direct nutritional advice and recipes for the management of IBD. Through the blog, Marnina and I dispense diet management advice and provide a venue for new scientific research, as well as include guest blogs from well-known nutritionists. The blog continues to provide me with opportunities to grow as a future nutritionist.
Last year, I volunteered with Marnina at Camp Oasis, and got my first glimpse into the lives of children with IBD. It was the ultimate learning experience to mentor and oversee 10 children who have made more trips to the hospital at the age of 12 than I will possibly ever make in my lifetime. Listening to the campers' stories and experiences was both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Even though they have experienced so many traumas by living with IBD and are still learning how to live life at such a young age with such debilitating diseases, I was amazed by their continued resilience and personal strength to overcome their disease.
So why are we running?
1. We are running in honor of our campers. Their resilience and determination continues to be an inspiration to us in (our) fight against Crohn's Disease.
2. We are running in the hope that medical science will bring Marnina new treatments and that a cure will be found in her lifetime.
3. IBD is truly a "silent" disease in that it involves bodily functions that people just aren't comfortable talking about. We are running to break that silence.
4. Marnina has been blessed with good health for nine years now. The time has come for both of us to use that gift in a way to help others
So, we ask for your generosity so that we can meet and exceed our fundraising goal of $4,000. Your contribution is tax deductible and over 75% of donations go directly to IBD research. We also ask you to please share this link with your family, friends and colleagues. Thank you!!
Please help us SKEWER IBD!!