Working with our local elected officials is important to having our voices heard. But attending local town hall meetings held by state or federal congressional representatives is daunting, especially if you’ve never done it before. Shawntel Bethea of Chronically Strong describes her journey from sending an email to asking for support from her Congresswoman at a meeting in her district. She gives her tips on how you can make an impact in your community for people living with IBD.
For this first episode of my limited series, Summer of Activism, I’m answering a question that I hear regularly: how it is that I go to medical meetings such as Digestive Disease Week, Advances in IBD, or Crohn’s and Colitis Congress. I give you the answer as well as tips on how patients, bloggers, podcasters, and vloggers can work towards attending these, and other, scientific meetings. Here’s a spoiler: it takes dedication to improving the lives of people with IBD, commitment to doing the work consistently, and some professional networking.
Does having IBD make you feel like a princess? Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are not only painful, serious conditions, but they also carry stigma which leads to patients feeling isolated. Sophia Vicari, the founder of The Princess Promise, is creating a community that challenges the perception society has about digestive disease. Diagnosed with ulcerative colitis while in college, it didn’t take long before Sophia decided she needed to work to help others in the IBD community become more comfortable talking about poop. Hear Sophia’s disease journey, what it was like for her to be Miss Camden County, NJ, while living with ulcerative colitis, and how she plans to help women with IBD find their inner princess.
This year I attended the annual “Day on the Hill” with the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation (the Foundation) in Washington, DC. It’s a two-day advocacy event where people who have been touched by inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), either as patients, caregivers, or healthcare professionals, meet with legislators and/or their staff.
That’s the postcard version: but let’s break this down so it makes more sense.
People who live with Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis experience stigma because of their inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). The taboo topic of bowel disease can permeate all aspects of a person’s life, especially when there are cultural influences also at play. Tina Aswani Omprakash, who lives with Crohn’s disease and a permanent ileostomy, shares her story of personal empowerment and how she is working to help other people with IBD live their lives with confidence. Tina describes how IBD has profoundly affected her family as well as why she decided to become an outspoken advocate for the IBD and ostomy communities and start her blog, Own Your Crohn’s.
Every person that lives with a chronic illness has been on the receiving end of advice related to managing their disease. People living with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) are especially vulnerable to the influx opinions, perhaps because the disease is not well understood by the general public (let alone by the medial profession outside of IBD experts). Some people are quick to suggest anything from a change in diet to alternative and complementary therapies, especially when the disease appears to be affecting daily life. It can be a struggle to deflect these comments with grace, especially when the suggestions have been tried already and didn’t offer any relief.
When people who don’t live with IBD offer their “advice,” how can you cope with it? Continue reading
An elevator speech or elevator pitch is a quick summary of a topic that can be given in about under a minute: just enough time to take an elevator ride. It’s usually thought of in a business sense, like a sales pitch or an idea you have that you present to someone in management upon a chance meeting (such as in the elevator). The use has been expanded to mean any prepared and rehearsed speech that you can give quickly on a moment’s notice. The purpose of this article is to guide you on crafting your elevator speech about your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).
What compels a person to share their personal journey with IBD? For Rasheed Clarke, author of Three Tablets Twice Daily, his writing began as a way to keep track of everything for himself and his healthcare team. It quickly turned into a tool that he used to show those around him the stark realities of a life with IBD: bloody diarrhea and all. His coworkers and friends were shocked to learn how much he was coping with every day but not everyone close to him approved of his honesty. On this episode of About IBD, Rasheed digs into the positives, the negatives, and the responsibilities that come with being an influencer in the IBD space.
As people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it is important that we share our stories. We need to share in order to bring awareness of our disease amongst the public but also to other people who live with the disease. IBD is isolating but there is a thriving community that’s willing to share information and support in order to prevent anyone from feeling alone in their disease.
However. I have concerns.
A diagnosis of IBD can take away the thing that you feel defines you as a person. This is how it felt for Megan Starshak of The Great Bowel Movement, who describes how her ulcerative colitis diagnosis at age 18 stole her passion for running. The process of losing and then regaining her identity as a runner fueled her desire to help people live well with a diagnosis of IBD. Her foundation seeks to educate those outside the IBD community through the use of a simple conversation prompt: Ask Me About My IBD.