When I was born my parents named me Bridget. My name means strength and it wasn’t until I became very ill that I realized just how important the word strength was in my life. When I was just 9 years old I suffered for months with painful symptoms. Finally after several doctor and diagnostic tests, I was diagnosed with severe chronic ulcerative colitis, which is a form of inflammatory bowel disease that has no known cause or cure.
I have endured more than thirty hospitalizations, IV medications, dietary restrictions, months of homebound school and painful, unpleasant medication side effects. After more than six months of being confined to either hospital or home, I underwent a total colon removal at age twelve and lived with an ileostomy bag for months. I had several complications and underwent three more surgeries and had a permanent IV line inserted. I recently have lost most of the steroid weight and despite also being diagnosed with arthritis; I am enjoying my first year of college and was recently elected to the student senate.
From the very day of my diagnosis until now, I have remained positive and have remained strong and faithful. I never once have felt sorry for myself or asked, “Why me?” My strength has come from my faith in God and at the lowest time during my illness, I adopted a Bible verse to use in my daily living. Romans 5 verses 3-5 states, “Rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character hope. And hope in God does not fail.” Without staying positive and remaining strong, I never would have made it through the tough times of my illness. Because my strength helped me to survive, I decided to give back by joining the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) where I have been instrumental in offering support, especially to other kids, with these debilitating diseases. I’ve volunteered at several fundraisers, raising more then $20,000, spoken at several pediatric conferences and started a local support group.
I was chosen as the Youth Ambassador for the CCFA and helped to start Camp Oasis. This is a special camp for kids with Crohn’s and Ulcerative Colitis who enjoy a week-long fun camp experience, while being medically monitored. My strength allows me to give all that I can and this camp is the best thing to happen to myself and other campers since being diagnosed. My drive and compassion for the campers of Camp Oasis will continue to help hundreds of children cope with their illness while having a fun week at camp getting to know other kids who suffer as I have.
I figure the Lord wouldn’t have given me this disease if He didn’t think I could handle it. Instead of feeling sorry for myself, I’ve decided to give all of the strength and energy I have to fighting and finding a cure for Crohn’s and Colitis and helping other kids who suffer as I have.
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