I’m going to do something really uncomfortable for me. I’m going to tell a very private story in a very public setting. Once a year, I decide to share a very personal story, because it’s too important for me to not share it. To the left is my avatar online that many of you see. Well, that’s not the most accurate depiction. Here goes …
When I was 16-years-old (I’m 41 now.), I became very sick.
I lost about 40 pounds without trying.
I experienced intense pain every night, and I was sick every morning (in a very gross way).
I lived with lots of embarrassing personal events.
I thought this was normal.
I graduated high school, went to college, graduated with a bachelor’s degree then a Masters, and I still was sick without any real explanation—all the while balancing life, school, work … and pain.
About 14 years ago, I started my PhD. About 13 years ago, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Finally, I had an answer. Unfortunately, it was only a beginning; my health became much worse. I have spent the last decade—practically all of my 3rd decade on our planet— attempting to manage how bad things were, and I also spent a lot of time trying to ignore how sick I was. It’s just not something I talked about. My Crohn’s was painful, debilitating, and secretive.
About 6 years ago, things changed. My disease became so bad, I had no option but to have surgery. (It was a stressful time for me already. I was preparing for tenure and promotion as well.) The surgery went well, but it lasted about 2.5 times longer than the great surgeon planned. Recovery was long. It was hard to be home, be a teacher to my students, be a husband, and be a daddy to my daughters. How do you tell your little ones you can’t pick them up and they can’t sit in your lap?
Remarkably, since that time, I have been in a much better place. However, Crohn’s is a chronic disease, and there is no cure. I’m over the 20 year mark now for living with Crohn’s. My current prognosis is incredibly positive, but the lack of a cure reminds me that things can change quickly. I’m told that there’s about an 80% chance that my disease will return. So, I’m waiting. I have a 8-inch long scar on my abdomen to remind me physically of what I’ve gone through and that it’s not over for me.
What’s worse though? What’s worse is knowing that these digestive diseases have a genetic link. So, now I not only worry about me. Now I worry about my three daughters. That is why I believe it is critical to raise money to find a cure for Crohn’s, colitis, IBD, and all of the digestive diseases to help prevent my daughters from going through what I’ve gone through.
On the afternoon of September 29th, the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America will host the “Take Steps. Be Heard.” walk at Mud Island. This is the 6th year for my family to raise money and “do the walk.” It’s so important to our family that the day before, September 28th, my wife Katie will run a half-marathon, having raised money already. The CCFA walk is a great experience, and it reminds me of how much bigger my role is in helping others. I need your help, though. I would like to invite you to make a donation to help cure the digestive diseases, including Crohn’s disease, colitis and ulcerative colitis, and IBS, that plague children and adults alike. Together, we can make a significant difference. Here’s the link to donate online:
I know that many people feel that they cannot make a substantial donation. I’m hear to say, “Every donation is substantial in my eyes.” So, if you can contribute $5.00, that’s substantial. Please don’t let the amount prevent you from helping. I would rather see 500 friends and family members contribute $5.00 each than just a couple folks contribute larger amounts. (Don’t get me wrong. If you want to blow my mind with a crazy-large amount, I’m all for it.) But I want everyone who has been affected by these diseases to feel the meaning that I do by contributing.
Finally, please don’t think that this is an exclusive club. Oh, no. If you have friends, family, or other colleagues that share our passion, I encourage you to forward them/retweet/share the information and invite them to donate as well. That link again is
Blessings and health to you and your family. I hope you can help. 🙂