Our Young Adult Advisory Panel take on My WALK IT 2024 - Selan's Story

For those who aren't already aware, Crohn's & Colitis UK has its very own Young Adults Advisory Panel (YAAP). This panel's primary focus is to provide strategic input and recommendations on issues that require a young adult’s perspective to better understand and meet the needs of young adults with Crohn’s and Colitis. They help shape the direction of our charity, offering valuable insights and guidance. The panel is actively involved in various initiatives and events, including 2024's My WALK IT. Join us as we chat with some of the panel members about their motivations, experiences on the panel, and their involvement in My WALK IT.

In today's blog, we're catching up with Selan!

Tell us a little about yourself?

My name is Selan, and I’ve just finished my MSci in Psychology after five long years of study! I’m 24, and I work as a Head Usher at the Rose Theatre and volunteer with Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre.

Can you share a bit about your journey with Crohn's Disease and how it has impacted your life?

I’ve always had a self-described “flippity-floppity” tummy, but in February 2018, it became increasingly obvious that something was wrong with my frequent trips to the toilet and increasing fatigue. Over the next few months, the toilet trips became more frequent, and I missed two months of school out of fear of soiling myself, abdominal pain or tiredness.

After a misdiagnosis of IBS, I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease in early May following a stay in hospital. Since then, I’ve achieved many of my goals and regained my confidence - although it’s taken a longer route than expected. 

I’m still fatigued, experience the occasional brain fog and need to avoid certain foods nearer my infusion dates - but I’m largely as healthy as someone with an invisible health condition can be. Overall, it has made me much more resilient and passionate to shape my life in my way.


Living with Crohn's Disease

What made you choose to volunteer on the Young Adults Advisory Panel?

I chose to volunteer on the panel because it was the first time I’d ever seen a focus on young adults in Inflammatory Bowel Disease in the UK—let alone anywhere else. I’m also part of the Crohn’s and Colitis Young Adult Network Fellowship; however, it is an international group, and I really wanted to do something focused on the UK. It was clear it was more than a focus group, and our roles were something we could define and help the charity grow from.

What sort of activities have you been involved in so far, through the Young Advisory Panel with Crohn’s & Colitis UK?

So far, I’ve attended almost all the meetings, and through this panel, I’ve also become part of the charity’s EDI communications panel. I’ve also been part of some amazing patient-led research opportunities and had a great shout-out by Crohn’s and Colitis UK for my art exhibition celebrating intersectionality in chronic illness.

For anyone thinking of volunteering, what words of advice would you give them?

From my experience, find volunteering opportunities with a group whose values align with yours. Whether it be re-planting the plant beds of your university, stewarding a Shakespeare play or helping primary school children learn multiplication (all real volunteering experiences of mine) - the one consistent was a shared purpose or value system. So many organisations are looking for volunteers with different levels of commitment and target groups. Try to find one which really fulfills your values - that will make volunteering truly worthwhile.

Why did the Young Adults Advisory Panel want to get involved in My WALK IT 2024 what were your motivations?

We’re all very aware and grateful of how much the charity has accommodated us as a new panel and given us the growing space to become the amazing group we are now. Therefore, we thought it right to repay the infinite kindness by giving the charity more opportunities for research and supporting IBD patients and their loved ones in the UK.

What are you most looking forward to through your My WALK IT challenge?

The leg burn the next day! I kid, I’m actually most looking forward to walking past locations that don’t have the fondest memories and replacing them with the ones made through this challenge.

Do you have any plans to keep you motivated throughout the challenge?

A pump-up music playlist, plenty of breaks and a hopefully scenic route as I walk.

What advice would you give to someone who has recently been diagnosed with Crohn's Disease/Colitis or suspects they may have it?

You are going to be overwhelmed with it all, and that’s okay. I don’t think there is anyone who has been diagnosed with or suspects they have IBD that doesn’t feel overwhelmed by it all. The most important thing is to recognise this and ask for help. 

I didn’t mentally process my diagnosis for almost a year and sort of repressed and floundered my negativity. Any change in life can be overwhelming but always know that help is there, and there is no question too stupid if it gets you the help you need.

In what ways has living with Crohn's Disease changed your perspective on life?

For a condition that impacts your spontaneity - I’m much more spontaneous than I was before my diagnosis. I’ve put my hand up for things I wouldn’t have six years ago and found out I actually enjoy adrenaline rushes. I’m also really comfortable with taking time for myself and going out to enjoy the cinema, shows and concerts. It may be a consequence of having an unpredictable gut, but I rarely feel left out and find my solo trips relaxing.

There's still time to sign up for My WALK IT!

By participating in this challenge, you’re not only embarking on a personal adventure but also contributing to a vital cause. Join us in raising awareness and funds to support those affected by Crohn’s and Colitis across the UK. Each step you take brings us closer to finding a cure. 


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