“Having Inflammatory Bowel Disease doesn’t stop me from pursuing my dreams” - Kiera’s story

Kiera lives in York and is an international model and pageant queen. She was initially diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis before being told she has Crohn’s Disease. In this blog, she talks about her life, work and determination to succeed despite the obstacles in her way. Kiera also has lots of great advice for others living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

I was 19 years old when I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. My symptoms started with blood in my stool, severe bloating, and pain in my lower stomach.

After multiple trips to my GP and lots of tests, I finally got some answers. I tried all sorts of treatments and they worked for a bit, but then I started to notice more blood and a different sort of stomach pain from what I had experienced before. I decided to visit my doctor again, and after three months of waiting, I finally received my hospital appointment for a colonoscopy. This time, the results showed that my inflammation had spread, suggesting that I actually had Crohn’s.

After getting the news, I was prescribed a very strong steroid which I had to take over an eight-week period to keep my flares at bay. This resulted in me becoming very swollen and it also made it harder for me to get the modelling jobs I wanted.

As well as modelling, I also compete in pageants and it takes a while for me to get my body fully-prepared to take part. I’ve recently been told I’ll need to start taking stronger medication as well as my steroids. It can be a lot to get your head around, as anyone with a chronic condition knows.

I try to remind myself that I am a very lucky to have access to medication which will help my recovery. Getting better is vital to me, and my career. I also try my best to stay as optimistic as possible, and choose to focus on the positive things that drive and fuel my ambition. Since having Inflammatory Bowel Disease, I’ve really had to change the way that I think, which has given me a whole new perspective on life.


Living with Crohn's Disease


My advice to others is to never give up on your dreams. Just because you have an illness, doesn’t mean that it defines you – in fact, make it your super power.

The struggles that we face in our lives, only makes us stronger. Having IBD really challenges me to think differently, and be grateful that I can still live my life truly to the fullest

I also try to help as many people as I can, which is why I’ve also started my own podcast. I want to help anyone going through the same sort of thing as me. It can be so difficult for people who don’t have a life-long condition to understand or empathise with people who do. I'm hoping that by sharing my story, I can raise awareness – even in a small way – and change that.

If you were to ask me what I'd say to someone with IBD who's interested in taking part in modelling or intrigued about pageant work, I would say to absolutely go for it!

Just because we have an invisible illness, doesn’t mean that we should let this hold us back – or stop us from fulfilling our dreams.

Courage and bravery speaks volumes. I truly hope as a member of the IBD community, that I can help get these conditions the exposure they so desperately deserve.

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We know it can be difficult to live with, or support someone living with these conditions. But you’re not alone. We provide up-to-date, evidence-based information and can support you to live well with Crohn’s or Colitis.

Our helpline team can help by:

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