Imagine, it is the start of your eighth grade year. You’re empowered to become the “top dog” of your school, but instead you are diagnosed with a life-changing illness: Crohn’s disease.
Life as I knew it: transformed. I experienced wrenching pain, dramatic weight loss, weakness, fatigue, and consumed more than 20 pills a day. That once brawny, conceited eighth grader was now emaciated and a frequent hospital visitor. Medical procedures and blood-work seemed mundane. I was unsure if my health would ever return and my gastroenterologist seemed skeptical. At the time I didn’t know much about the disease, but I did know that I needed to defy the odds.
Throughout the years, I have researched Inflammatory Bowel Diseases to educate myself. Although Crohn’s is chronic, I plan to live my life without regard to my disease. “You choose your mood when you wake up in the morning”, my dad would always say. I choose to be active and optimistic each morning knowing that a new day lies ahead.
I remember thinking, why should I be upset with this disease? Why should I be pessimistic about my future? I knew that if I kept a positive outlook everything would later fall into place. Football and basketball, my pastimes, now seemed unapproachable. I didn’t give up in sports, though. My now small figure proved fitting as a coxswain on my high school crew team. Working together with my team has really made me a stronger individual mentally and physically.
Educating others about Crohn’s has been another goal of mine throughout the past couple years. I truly find it amazing that so many others are plagued with inflammatory bowel diseases, even in my own school and neighborhood. Giving back to the community is crucial. This is why I am currently developing a team at my school to raise money and awareness for the Crohn’s and Colitis Walk this upcoming April. In the future, I plan to become a gastroenterologist and treat others with similar diseases to mine. Recently, I won first place in the Broward County Science Fair in the category of Microbiology. My project entailed testing the effects of two different substances, Liquid Silver and Metronidazole on Crohn’s Disease.
Using Crohn’s as a personal advantage has become a life-long goal of mine. I plan to never let Crohn’s affect my daily activities, let alone my life. I refuse to be restricted by my disease. My illness will only take from me that which I allow: This I Believe.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.