I was honored to be featured on the @chronscolitisfoundationla #instagram page as they highlight those living with Chrons and Colitis disease. They asked me a series of questions and here was my reply. This is one example of my #advocacy mission that gave me the strength to face #ostomy surgery head on and to continue living my best life.
To say that Lee-Ann is a strong woman is an understatement. She spent most of her 30s trying every single pill, steroid, infusion, shot, diet, and remedy you could possibly fathom due to severe, refractory ulcerative colitis. She didn’t find any relief. Then on December 7th, 2015, Lee-Ann was reborn after undergoing a permanent and total proctocolectomy with ileostomy.
In her own words: “For many years, sick was my new normal. I was not living life; I was just surviving life with UC. Now, as an ostomate, I can say with 100% certainty that I am free. When I made the decision to have surgery, I decided I would become an advocate to show the world what we can do. And you know what, there isn’t anything we CAN’T do! I would love to help anyone contemplating with their own surgery decision and I am always here to work with anyone curious about what life is like living with an ostomy.”
When we asked Lee-Ann what she would want the world to know. She told us “I am a living, breathing example of an invisible illness which is exactly what IBD is. I never looked sick. Even when sick, I continued my competitive triathlon racing. Don’t judge a book by its cover. My sport was my outlet; something I could control while my body continually failed me. Everything happens in your mind. With a positive outlook and a great attitude, everything is possible.”
Lee-Ann advises others to ask questions! Especially of your medical team. She was young and naive when first diagnosed. She wanted to get well and get back to doing what she loved to do (racing triathlon). She took any and every medication they gave her and she never questioned it. She never asked for a different way. She wanted easy and didn’t want to believe she was sick. She never thought that all medications would eventually stop working or not work at all. If she could do it over, she would find a Doctor who was highly experienced with IBD patients. @24cycle #crohnsdisease #crohns#crohnscolitisfnla #ulcerativecolitis