Marathon #22 – 26.2 for Kate
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in June of 2002. It was just about six weeks before I got married and I was 25 years old. From the get-go my disease was fast and furious. Over the next 13 months I battled the fight of my life but the constant pain, blood loss, endless hospitalizations and treatment failures left me waving my white flag. Shortly after my 1st wedding anniversary and surrounded by fear, anxiety and depression I underwent surgery to remove my entire colon. Little did I know it was the first of many surgeries to come! Finally in 2008 I received a new diagnosis of Crohn’s disease and my first stable remission thanks to a new drug and diligent medical team. It was then that I also got my first mailer from Team Challenge.
These people wanted me to run 13.1 miles? Did they know I actually had the disease? The only running I did was to the bathroom. I put the mailer aside and thought nothing more of it. A few months later I was forced to take a hard look at the way I was living. Still gripped by the fear of this terrible disease I realized that I was merely existing and I had to make a change or be consumed by the darkness that can surround a patient living with IBD. I had isolated myself because I couldn’t stand the questions about where I’d been or why I was so skinny. I knew no other person with IBD or who had an ostomy. My goals and dreams had been rearranged so many times that I lost sight of who I was or what I wanted. So, I dug through that pile of junk that everyone has and looked over the mailer again. I attended an informational meeting and was completely blown away by the time it ended. I looked at my husband and told him I needed to do it but wasn’t sure I could make it. He assured me that it was something I needed to do and he’d be there to help however he could!
I signed up to run a half marathon in Hawaii in June 2009. Along with training I had to raise a lot of money and awareness about life with Crohn’s disease. That meant I’d have to own up to having Crohn’s disease and all the terrible side effects that came with it. It was certainly scary but I was on a mission to make a change. Training sessions with Team Challenge where exhausting both physically and emotionally! I met a whole group of people who struggled with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. Every week we laughed and cried together. We shared tips and secrets, fears and anxieties, humor and successes. We encouraged each other not only on the race course but through the years which have followed.
Seven years after being diagnosed with IBD I crossed the finish line in Hawaii a different person. I learned a lot about myself in the process. I learned I will continue to fall living with this incurable disease but my family (my TC family included) and friends will pick me up and dust me off. I learned I won’t be told I can’t do something. I’ve also learned that I am not my disease but it’s okay to need and take a break.
It is through Team Challenge and the friendships forge there that I’ve been able to work through my grief and begin to accept that I live with IBD. I’ve been able heal some of the emotional bruises brought upon by this disease. Though my body continues to endure the beatings IBD throws my way it brings me peace knowing that people like Marc are out there to pick up the torch and continue the fight when I can’t. Marcs continued dedication to the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation brings hope to the many patients he has met that one day we might have a cure.
Running 26.2 for Kate!
Marathon 22 – Recap