Marathon #45 – 26.2 for Laura
My crash course in the world of IBD started in 2002 when my younger sister Alison was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis right before her 9th birthday. I was 13 at the time, and I wanted to know as much as I could about the disease that was making my little sister so sick. In the years following her diagnosis, my family and I would raise money and participate in the Taking Steps walks in Rhode Island where I grew up. As Allie’s big sister, I felt that it was my calling to help people like her feel better, and she was a big part of why I decided to pursue pharmacy in college.
Fast forward to the end of 2009… I had just finished my fall finals for my 4th year of pharmacy school. I was the secretary of the Student Government Association, president of my pharmacy fraternity, juggling school, family, friends, and my relationship with my boyfriend Jeff. I woke up the day after finals was over feeling like I was being stabbed in the gut. Jeff brought me to the ED at Brigham and Women’s, and a CT scan showed that I had a micro-perforation in my intestines and a small abscess. I went back to school for my spring semester, to push myself through lectures, many times running out of the room to go throw up, and did what I could to make sure I didn’t fall behind in school. It was ultimately decided in March 2010 that the best course of action would be for me to have surgery to remove the diseased part of my intestines. Jeff and I celebrated our 1 year dating anniversary in BWH, 2 days after my surgery. Surgery gave me the final diagnosis, I have Crohn’s disease.
Since my surgery, I was put on azathioprine in early 2011 to help me stay in remission, and things were pretty smooth sailing for a number of years. I graduated pharmacy school on time in 2012. Jeff and I got married in 2014. I ran my first half marathon with Team Challenge in 2016 in New Orleans, and again in 2017. I completed my first (currently only) full marathon in 2017. I gave birth to my son Cameron in Sept 2018 while on azathioprine. I stopped taking azathioprine in August 2019 due to a drop in my white blood cells that made me very sick, and remain off medication today. While I am glad to still be in remission, I am nervous about what will happen if/when my Crohn’s flares again.
Today, while I am Mama, wife, sister, daughter, and friend, I am also the pharmacist in 2 outpatient IBD clinics in RI. I love that I get to work directly with IBD patients, providing medication counseling, immunizations, and support. I remain active with the Foundation through my work with the Young Professionals Committee, and the larger New England Chapter. I plan to continue my volunteer work with the Foundation for a long as I can, because it is so important to me to help keep us moving forward to finding a cure for IBD. I don’t want Cameron or any member of the next generation to know what it’s like to have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. I am so appreciative to Coach Marc for all that he is doing for the Foundation through his work with Team Challenge and 26.2 For You, and am honored that he asked me to share my story.
Marathon 45 – Recap