Marathon #12 – 26.2 for Leigh
Leigh was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis when she was 23 years old. The diagnosis was overwhelming and couldn’t have come at a worse time. Feeling sick and weighed down with graduate school finals, Leigh eventually landed in the hospital. Slowly she found the right medication and lifestyle changes to get the disease under control. Back on her feet and in remission, she has been involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation for many years. For Leigh, reaching out to others is healthy and healing, as is running half-marathons and taking part in other fundraisers for ulcerative colitis research.
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis during my final semester of grad school in 1999. I remember it like it was yesterday. My GI doctor told me that I needed to be admitted to the hospital and I told him that I had a final to complete. I ended up taking the final and then headed straight to the hospital. I don’t think that I realized how sick I really was! During that time… I lost a lot of weight and NOTHING agreed with me! I was always running to the bathroom (like 20-30 times throughout the day/night) and there was always blood in the toilet! I was in and out of the hospital and on and off of prednisone! Finally… after about two years… I was able to tolerate the cocktail of medications that my GI doctor put me on and slowly… I began feeling better. Now my UC is under control and I am able to lead a pretty normal life. I take my medication… see my GI doctor every six months for blood-work/my routine check-up and over the years… I have had countless colonoscopies.
I have been very involved with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation since I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. I volunteer for various Foundation events throughout the year including Camp Oasis (the camp for kids with Crohn’s and Colitis). I was never shy about telling people about my condition. I realized that the more I talked about it… the more I found out about people who knew people that had Crohn’s or Colitis. It wasn’t until Camp Oasis that I really met others around my age that had Crohn’s or Colitis. Camp was a turning point for me… to see the kids dealing with having Crohn’s and Colitis was a real eye opener.
For the past 10 years… I have been fundraising and raising awareness for Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis through the Team Challenge endurance training program! Team Challenge has been one of the best experiences of my life! It is so rewarding in so many ways and I have met the most amazing people (kids and adults) through the Foundation who have become my closest friends!!
When I was first diagnosed… I was unable to walk for 3 minutes let alone 13.1 miles. I could never have imagined walking or running a half marathon during my initial stages of having colitis. It took a long time for me to find the right medications but… eventually it all worked out and now… I am doing well and getting ready to participate in my 30th Team Challenge event! Walking/running has definitely helped me to deal with the disease… as well as watching what I eat… remaining positive and trying to remain calm instead of getting stressed out! I know first-hand what a terrible disease UC is but… I also know that you can lead a normal life (once you are in remission).
Running 26.2 for Leigh!
Marathon 12 – Recap