My name is Joanne, I am 50 years old. I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in July 1998.
The condition came on quite quickly and followed a period in my life where I was working long hours. I had also been on holiday in April 1998 to the Maldives so at the time doctors were unsure if it was a tropical disease causing me to be ill. After many months, lots of weight loss, trips to hospital and tests I was diagnosed with Colitis. This diagnosis was welcomed as I finally knew what was making me so ill. To lose so much weight in such a short period and to find yourself on the toilet most of the day was worrying in itself. At one point, the toilet became my new lounge.
My journey then began. I had a new way of life, new way of eating, medication for the rest of my life and a hidden disability.
It was during the first few months in hospital that I heard about Crohn’s & Colitis UK. I saw their leaflets and began to do some research on what they could offer. My membership began, followed by lots of useful information and guidance for me and my family. There was also help for my employer and this made it easier to explain what was going on with me to colleagues. My Can’t Wait Card came in useful and I had this in Spanish and French too so I could take it on holiday. I also got a Radar key which made travelling easier as I knew I had access to a toilet urgently if needed.
We decided we wanted to give something back to charities close to our hearts.
When my husband, Mark, and I decided to make our Will, it was an easy decision for me to pick Crohn’s & Colitis UK. Their help and support, especially when first diagnosed, was very much appreciated. I contacted them via their website and the process was very easy. The team got in touch and I got a lovely letter of thanks when I nominated them as a beneficiary of my Will. I’m hoping that the percentage of my estate they receive in the future will help others diagnosed with this disease to get the help and support they need.
We never know what is around the corner, there may be a cure in the future which would be fantastic.
In the meantime, I support Crohn’s & Colitis UK by fundraising as much as possible and I enjoy hosting coffee mornings for friends and colleagues to raise much needed funds to continue researching treatments for this disease.