Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis is Sunday, June 4

Gutsy Walk for Crohn's and Colitis is Sunday, June 4

“So I think last time the start was right over there…”

Heather Monych and Rita Wakelin have met at Esquimalt Gorge Park, to go over the plan for this year’s Gutsy Walk for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

Both these young women live with ulcerative colitis.

“I was diagnosed back in April of 2013” explains Heather Monych, Gutsy Walk 2017 Honorary Chair, “and before that I was a healthy kid. The minute I turned twenty-one, I got sick.

“I lost, probably about fifteen pounds in three weeks, I was going to the bathroom like, twenty times a day, with blood, just not feeling good at all, sleeping up to twelve hours…twelve to fourteen hours a day.”

And within six months of her diagnosis, “I was so sick I needed to lose my colon in order to get better, and I was like, ‘oh, ok, sure.’

“So I now have something called a colostomy bag.”

Rita Wakelin suddenly became very sick at age seventeen.

“Ended up in hospital, and was very sick, almost lost my large intestine, but managed to respond to the treatment.”

Crohn’s and colitis are auto-immune diseases – meaning your immune system goes a little haywire, and attacks your own body.

“Crohn’s disease can attack anywhere from your mouth to your anus” explains Wakelin, vice president of the Victoria chapter, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.

“So you can get sores in your esophogus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and in patches, whereas ulcerative colitis tends to be more localized to the large intestine.”

Wakelin points out that it’s a tough disease to have, because people can be uncomfortable talking about it.

“You’re bleeding, you’re having diarrhea, you don’t necessarily feel like you have control over your own body…that doesn’t really make you want to go outside and actively vocalize what you have.”

Which is why it’s so important to talk about it, and why supporting each other means so much.

“It helps knowing that there’s other people out there who know your journey, and kind of know what you’re suffering” says Monych.

“We have people who are fresh out of the hospital” adds Wakelin, “and people who have been living with the disease for twenty, thirty years, so having that spectrum really lets us connect as a community and really support each other.”

The Gutsy Walk is Sunday June 4th.

Victoria’s Gutsy Walk meets at Esquimalt Gorge Park, Nanaimo’s Gutsy Walk meets at Maffeo Sutton Park.

Veronica CooperVeronica Cooper

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