Marathon #25 – 26.2 for Cara
In May of 2015, after many doctor visits and tests, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease (later determined that it was Ulcerative Colitis). I was 19 and a freshman in college at the time. Almost immediately after being diagnosed, I turned to running as my outlet and favorite form of therapy. I ran my first half-marathon that year and joined Team Challenge.
My disease started out as a mild-to-moderate case requiring diet restrictions, trying countless anti-inflammatory medications, and steroids. During the summer of 2016, everything changed. My disease worsened and I was dealing with a severe case that resulted in my first and second long-term hospital stays. I lost 1/3 of my total blood count, was down 10 pounds in a week, and was in need of a blood transfusion. After a month in the hospital, I was started on monthly Remicade infusions. Eventually the Remicade stopped working for me and I started on a different type of infusion therapy, called Entyvio. Even while “doing well” on infusion therapies, I was still experiencing periodic flare-ups that required steroids and occasional hospital stays to get things under control. I had not once been in complete remission since being diagnosed.
On September 2, 2018, I was admitted to the hospital for a flare-up like no other. This happened only a month away and 15 weeks/18 miles into training for the 2018 Chicago Marathon (what would have been my first full marathon with Team Challenge). I was not responding to Entyvio, Prednisone, or IV steroids. During my inpatient stay, a colonoscopy showed that my disease rapidly progressed and that surgery was necessary. On September 10th, I had my entire colon (large intestine) removed, along with my appendix and the creation of a temporary ileostomy. I have two more surgeries to go within the next 4 months. The road to recovery has been tough and will continue to be a challenge. I have faith that after all three surgeries are complete; I will have my life back with no more pain. That is all I want, to be healthy again.
On a positive note, this disease has introduced me to Team Challenge and my passion for running. I have now completed 4 half-marathons since being diagnosed, and am ready to take on my first full marathon once I fully heal from my surgeries. My illness has taught me how to look at the bright side in every situation, to never take good health for granted, and who my real friends and family are. I am blessed to have my family, friends, and Team Challenge as a phenomenal support system. I am forever grateful for people like Marc, who I met through Team Challenge, and his passion for this cause. Thank you for running towards a cure!
Running 26.2 for Cara!
Marathon 25 – Recap