Looking at pro golfer, Michelle McCann, you’d never know she lives with a debilitating disease.
“You have no energy, you can’t work, and it’s hard to hang out with friends when you can’t leave your house and it’s hard to golf when you need a bathroom every five minutes,” says Michelle McCann, the honourary chair of the Gutsy Walk for the Victoria Chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
Michelle was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease six years ago — when she was just 22-years-old.
“The biggest thing was not letting it get to me because it’s pretty daunting being told at 22 that the rest of your life you’re going to be sick,” she says, fighting back tears.
Michelle’s been so sick, she’s ended up in hospital and she can no longer work full-time.
Chronic and incurable, Crohn’s and Colitis prevent the body from digesting and absorbing food. And sadly, people are most commonly diagnosed before the age of 30.
“It’s awful!” says Perry Monych, whose 29-year-old twins both suffer from IBD. “My daughter’s in the hospital now. She gets blockages and she’s had 15 surgeries now.”
Perry daughter, Heather Monych, has suffered for years with ulcerative colitis.
And his son, Gordon, started getting the same gut-wrenching pain in 2019 and was diagnosed with Crohn’s.”All their medications failed for them so my daughter lost her colon six months after she was diagnosed and my son lost his colon a year and a half after he was diagnosed,” Perry explains.
It’s completely changed their lives and for Perry, who gives back by volunteering with the Victoria chapter of Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, the hardest part is watching his children suffer.
“Seeing my daughter and my son so sick,” he says. “My daughter, 100 pounds when she started, she went down to 67 pounds.”
It’s why Crohn’s and Colitis Canada’s annual Gusty Walk — an important fundraiser to help find a cure — is so important.
This year’s walk on June 6 is virtual due to COVID but people are encouraged to post videos to social media to help raise awareness.
For Michelle, who hid her illness at first, she’s hoping that by speaking out about this silent illness, she can make a difference.
“I want to raise awareness,” she says. “There are a lot of us out there that are young, have chronic illnesses, some days having a shower and going to the grocery store is too much. And I’d love to reduce the stigma so when I go to a store and need to use the bathroom I don’t have to explain to them that, no no no I need to go right now.”
You can register or make a donation at gutsywalk.ca