Andy, 35 from Liverpool and Jake, 29 from Salford were both diagnosed with Crohn’s in 1996 and have been friends for nearly 20 years, having been brought together by sport and playing handball for a number of years. We asked them to say a few words about how and why they began their podcast ‘Talking Crohn’s’.
What brought you guys together?
JAKE: Both being diagnosed at a young age and similar time; we were lucky to help each other deal with tough situations growing up but also have someone to speak to who would understand the mental and physical difficulties that IBD can bring.
ANDY: Untl the later years of my life I have always had a certain level of embarrassment towards my condition. It’s not something I readily discuss with family/friends/colleagues/strangers. A comfort for me growing up was knowing someone who also has similar struggles who was an equal; similar upbringing, family dynamic, lover of sport, a northern kid who was just as open about his struggles with me as I was with him. It felt different with Jake, I didn’t feel embarrassed at all.
How did the idea of the podcast come about?
JAKE: Having a small catch up in early lockdown about life in general, as always, we talk about our Crohn’s and how we are doing etc. After a good chat I had a bit of an epiphany and suggested to Andy we start a podcast, firstly to keep in touch in lockdown by doing something productive but also to see if “Talking S**T” would actually help people in any way.
ANDY: Jake’s idea to start a podcast about living with Crohn’s came as a surprise. It took me all of a couple of seconds to decide I was on board. Waking up the next morning to a logo, a working title and a ‘Head of Media’ was just as surprising - there was no way out now! It’s a modern way to get a story across. This is something we had as one of our main objectives. Helping others with the condition, offering advice to those who know someone else living with Crohn’s or Colitis and bringing this unseen condition to consciousness of those who don’t know much about it. At the same time, we get to have more regular chats.
Storytelling is powerful. It can contribute to inclusion and connection, build confidence, and bring about change.
JAKE: A podcast allows people to listen anywhere, anytime. They can pick and choose what episodes they want to listen to, there’s no cost to listen and listening to someone talk about Crohn’s or Colitis is a lot easier than talking to yourself (coming from someone who didn’t talk to anyone about his condition in the past). We don’t want to give people professional advice and have made that very clear; we want it to be a fine balance of compassion and light heartedness. Allowing listeners to relate, but also laugh. After all, laughter is the best medicine.
Tell us some of the things you have already spoke about on the podcast
JAKE: So far, we have explored sport, dating, travel, family and school. Each being unique in itself, allowing us to share different experiences, compare stories and laugh at the ups and downs. In episode 5 we discussed all things family and invited both of our older brothers on the podcast to allow listeners to understand how important family is but also give them a different opinion from a family member who doesn’t live with Crohn’s or Colitis.
Is it important for you to share your experiences?
ANDY: In terms of why we think it’s important to share our experiences - I don’t think our stories are any more valuable than anyone else’s stories. I do feel it can encourage others to come to terms with what’s happening in their world and be able to share their own stories. Talking about your experiences with anyone is a form of therapy and we’ve found it beneficial to have each other for so many years. We understand not everyone may not appreciate our self-deprecating humour but we’ve found it the best way for us to come to terms with how we cope.
How do you feel about what you have accomplished so far?
ANDY: I am proud of what we are doing as I feel I am already making a difference in a few ways. I’ve had friends get in touch saying they weren’t aware and are now more tuned in to the challenges others face. We’ve had other people get in touch saying they have family members diagnosed and are wanting advice on how to support them. There is also a person who got in touch with me who has previously never discussed their condition with anyone outside of their family. We are making a difference.JAKE: We are very excited about the future for Talking Crohn’s. We still have 4 episodes of season 1 to record and release. We then plan to take a small break, but already have some great ideas for season 2 with possible guests and new topics. In the meantime, we’ve got the blueprint ready for badges that we want to sell to support Crohn’s & Colitis UK and help raise further awareness.
We hope you are enjoying listening to a couple of northerners talk "S**T", and continue to do so. As we say at the end of every episode, please write into us at email@example.com with any Famous Poo stories, a solid breakdown of a toilet you want Andy to rate or with any questions you may have.