Thursday, March 29, 2012

Trying New Things

So, I'm trying my hand at fundraising and celebrating my 35th birthday by trying to raise $3500 for the Crohn's and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA). Phew...that makes me sweat just typing it out! Don't know if I'll make it, but it'll be fun and worthwhile to try.

And, I figure if any organization deserves me going outside of my comfort zone to raise money for them it's the CCFA.

I wrote a post about my time with ulcerative colitis here before. And, here's my fancy fundraising attempt:

For my 18th birthday, when some kids were getting a new computer or a new car, I got a colectomy--that means a surgeon removed my colon. I had been diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when I was 14 years old, and my chronic, inflammatory bowel disease had irreparably damaged my colon in just four years.

Leading up to the surgery, I was getting two blood transfusions a week, going to the bathroom hourly, and eagerly waiting my next dose of anti-nausea medication. For a month I had been on bowel rest--a nice way of saying I wasn’t allowed to eat or drink in the hope that giving my colon some time off its hard work of digesting would help it heal. While being fed intravenously, I would salivate over the Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial that came on the hospital’s TV. Though not usually a KFC fan, I longed for some crispy fried chicken and mashed potatoes.

I awoke from my colectomy and immediately noticed a difference. The nausea was finally gone. Though the recovery was slow, I eventually returned to a blessedly normal diet (I could eat raw vegetables again!), gave birth to three children, and remain ever grateful that I had the surgery.

Post-surgery my health has been great. I know how lucky I am. But, there are millions of Americans who aren’t as lucky, and for years I have felt the nagging guilt that I need to give back to the community that helped me when I was so sick.

When I heard about the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s (CCFA) half marathon, I knew this was the time. Recently, I started strength training and running, which have helped strengthen the muscles around my knees. (Some of my joints have damage from the steroids I took to keep my ulcerative colitis under control as a teenager.)

So, I made the decision to run in the Napa to Sonoma Half Marathon this July. I am part of Team Challenge, a program that trains participants to run or walk the race while helping us raise money for research and support for Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. Since its inception, CCFA has been a part of every major discovery regarding ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s Disease. CCFA offers support to patients and families, and even sends kids with these diseases to camp. For many of these kids it is the first time in their lives they get to be “normal.”

CCFA holds a special place in my heart because they were the ones who organized pediatric support groups when I was first diagnosed (a disease with the primary symptoms of diarrhea, incontinence, and flatulence is difficult to deal with as a teenager). Later they found me a support group when I was dealing with my ostomy, and they organized conferences that helped me and my parents learn about on the newest treatments for my disease.

I am excited to have this opportunity to tell and reflect on my story while meeting new people as we work to help others who struggle with this disease. The timing is serendipitous; the race two days after the seventeenth anniversary of getting released from the hospital after my colectomy.

So, I have made a personal goal for this exciting challenge. In honor of my upcoming thirty-fifth birthday, I am committed to raising $3,500. Please consider helping me reach my goal. I look forward to raising money for an important cause. Call me with questions and check out my personal webpage.
With many thanks,