‘I could barely work’: Gutsy Walk helps raise money for Crohn’s & Colitis research

'I could barely work': Gutsy Walk helps raise money for Crohn's & Colitis research
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Gutsy Walk file photo.

Gavin Kierulf was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease when he was eight years old, and he’s spent most of his life battling the debilitating disease.

“It’s had a big impact on my life, on my education, on my personal life,” Gavin says. “Obviously, with chronic illness, it takes a lot of time out of your day-to-day.”

It also took a toll on Gavin’s family, and he was symptomatic long before finally getting a diagnosis.

“It was really hard because it was very difficult to get a diagnosis,” Gavin’s mom, Ellen Kierulf says. “From a very early age, his gut was not right. And we knew it, and we had to really push to figure out what it was.”

But thanks to new medication, Gavin’s been in remission for the last four years.

“It feels really good and being healthy after being so long, unhealthy has led to a lot of positive changes,” Gavin says. “There’s been a lot of re-learning how to do certain things and being active in new ways, trying new things.”

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Crohn’s and colitis both prevent the body from properly digesting and absorbing food, and they’re more common than you might think, with one in every 140 Canadians battling Crohn’s or colitis — and often suffering in silence.

“For the three years that I was really sick, I could barely work,” Crohn’s and Colitis Canada Victoria chapter vice-president Michelle McCann says. “I was afraid to tell people, and I had to have surgery in 2017 after multiple hospital stays, and now I’m on new medication, so I’m doing well and in remission.”

New, life-changing medications wouldn’t be possible without research and that’s why this year’s Gutsy Walk on June 2 is hoping to raise $3 million across Canada.

“It’s because of things like the Gutsy Walk and the fundraising that Crohn’s and Colitis Canada does that enables the research for these new medications,” Ellen explains. “It’s groundbreaking work, and it helps so many people.”

Click on this link to make a donation.

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