Submitted by Jessi Hartwig, Vanderhoof B.C
Dear Editor, Friends and Family
It is another year into my journey with Crohn’s – lots of challenges but definitely successes as well. I was admitted to BC Children’s Hospital days after the Gutsy Walk 2016 and did not return home for three months. I spent my 17th birthday in hospital as well as missed the end of grade 11 and the beginning of grade 12. The good news is that thanks to the new medication, Stellara, and my third surgery, I have been out of hospital for over 8 months now – the longest stretch of time since my diagnosis! I have still had many physical challenges, visits to the ER and long trips to Vancouver for follow up tests and appointments, but at least I have been home. I have been able to complete enough of my grade 11 and 12 classes to be graduating in June with my friends which was something that didn’t seem like it was going to be possible last summer.
I was amazed and strengthened by the incredible support that I received last year with my first ever Gutsy Walk. I am grateful to have such a wonderful community of friends and family giving me strength. Words, prayers, cards, smiles, donations, visits…. they have all helped during the really tough times.
I have relied on a combination of talented and dedicated doctors and nurses to help me get through these past years – Dr. Jacobson, Dr Lawrence, Dr Skarsgaard, Dr Stanford, Amie Nowak, Kathie Evans, the team of nurses on ward 3F and the team of nurses and doctors in my own local community – you have all had an impact not only on my physical health, but also built up my courage, strength and ability to stay positive.
I am one of the few pediatric patients in B.C. who is taking Stelara because it has only recently become available for the treatment of Crohns disease. I am thankful that it was an option for me because none of the previous treatments worked well enough. There is a need for ongoing research to figure out what can be done to stop the increasing numbers of children in Canada who are diagnosed with Crohns/colitis each year and to continue to find new treatments for those of us who will live with this disease for the rest of our lives.. This will only happen with increasing awareness and advocacy. Your support and donations make that happen. THANK YOU.
Last year I had planned to hike to the Greer Creek waterfalls as a Vanderhoof version of the Gutsy Walk. Unfortunately I ended up needing to be in Vancouver and although I was able to participate in the Vancouver Gutsy Walk, I was admitted shortly after and did not get to make the Greer Creek hike at all last summer.
So I’m very excited that I was well enough this year to do the hike this year! Thanks for being GUTSY with me on Sunday, June 4 walking alongside over 23,000 walkers across Canada to help stop the pain, multiple surgeries, and missed moments.
One in 150 Canadians live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis – a rate that ranks among the highest worldwide. Even more alarming is the rate at which children are being diagnosed: Crohn’s disease has doubled in kids under 10 years old since 1995. Families new to Canada are developing Crohn’s and colitis for the first time – often within the first generation.
It takes guts to make it stop. Help make it STOP by making a donation today. Every dollar you donate counts towards Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s investment in transformational research, patient programs, advocacy, and awareness so that every child and adult with these diseases can live life to the fullest, and ultimately, be cured.
Thank you for all your support and donations. Thank you for showing you have the guts to make it stop. For life.