Marathon #6 – 26.2 for Dan
My name is Dan and I have Ulcerative Colitis. In 2010 I was a college senior at WPI and ad completed Officer Candidate School with the United States Marine Corps with a contact to be a Marine Corps pilot. Four days before I was to be a commissioned officer I was diagnosed with something called Ulcerative Colitis. I had never heard of it and asked my doctor “okay, how do you fix it?” I had no idea what lay ahead of me. On this day, my life changed forever; my life long dream was over, I lost 30 pounds in less than four weeks, didn’t have a resume to apply for a job and couldn’t drive more than 10 minutes without having intense abdominal pain and an unbearable need to use a bathroom. While trying to understand how to manage my new life with medications and constant symptoms I found a job and attempted to push forward with my life. For eight years I went from severe UC to near remission back to severe symptoms in a constant cycle of new drugs, four doctors and crushing defeat. Through these lows, I determined that I would not allow my disease to define my life. Rather than shut myself in, I found a fulfilling career and poured my soul into it while pursuing hobbies that I love enough I wouldn’t let my symptoms stop me from doing them. I worked long hours and traveled all over the country for a job I believe in, despite being told by my physicians I should not be traveling anywhere. I rode motorcycles, dirtbikes and mountain bikes almost every weekend there wasn’t snow on the ground, despite packing a change of clothes and a large dose of anxiety. I ate chicken and rice for months at a time, planned my schedule and routes based on publicly accessible bathrooms and lived in often excruciating pain but I refused to give up my life. I played hockey, intramurals and traveled. I snowboarded in Tahoe and dove reefs in the Bahamas but too often I cancelled trips, didn’t go out on weekends and drifted away from friends. During this time I kept those closest to me even closer while they kept me afloat.
In 2012 and 2013 my girlfriend, Jeannette, ran to raise money with the TC running team. I had the opportunity then to be part of something bigger and fight these diseases but I couldn’t get close to it. Emotionally, I had to insulate myself from facing how bad things could really get for me and kept a wall around myself. After several more years of dealing with UC and maybe maturing some, in 2017 I finally decided to join Team Challenge and do something more than try to treat just myself. In doing so I joined an organization of compassionate individuals dedicated to helping people like me who suffer from UC and Crohn’s Disease. That year my UC also became uncontrollable and while training with the TC cycle team I had a full colectomy to remove my colon. During training and recovery I was amazed by the work being done by both patients and supporters to raise awareness and money for a cure. I met people like Marc who dedicate countless hours of their lives every year and make sacrifices to better the lives of others. Following surgery I was determined to get back on my feet as soon as possible. I wasn’t going to let UC start controlling my life and just three weeks later I was back on my bicycle and months after major surgery I rode in a 62-mile cycle ride and raised $5,500 for UC and Crohn’s research. I am currently awaiting my final surgery, a major milestone in what will be a lifelong fight. I have re-upped with TC cycle for 2018 and am continuing to push against these diseases and live my life to its full potential.
Running 26.2 for Dan!
Marathon 6 – Recap