Hello, My name is Troy Marullo and I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease just a few days before Christmas 2015. Like most people with Crohns and Colitis, I had a difficult time getting diagnosed. I have had many signs and symptoms of Crohn’s since I was 3 or 4 years old, however all my doctors blamed my symptoms on another condition I was born with. My parents took me to numerous doctors looking for an answer and after countless office visits finally in 2010 my new gastroenterologist immediately scoped me a few days after my first visit with him. During the procedure he had found so many ulcers throughout my esophagus, stomach, and intestines that he was not even able to count them! While I was under anesthesia he made my father gown up and come into the operating room to see. At this time the doctor asked permission to do a colonoscopy on me. The doctor really thought he was going to find evidence that it was Crohns or Colitis! The doctor ended up finding no signs of disease in the colonoscopy portion of his procedure and decided to run additional tests and biopsies of the ulcers from the endoscopy scoping. When he received the results he was very frustrated to find that all the tests and biopsies were negative for Crohns and Colitis, so the decision was made to just start aggressive treatment for gastric ulcers. After a few months of treatment I started to feel better, and was scoped a few more times and showed good signs of healing, however my doctor was still concerned what was causing my issues. My medications decreased but continued over the few years until early 2015 when I started having random issues again. My doctor decided to restart aggressive treatment for gastric ulcers. Treatment continued for a few months and I was again feeling better but my doctor was still not convinced and scheduled to re-scope me again and see what was now going on. Being I was feeling better my parents figured this was going to be an easy visit and positive visit, however the doctor found more ulcers and scheduled me for a full colonoscopy with a proper cleanout the next week. I went for the colonoscopy and the doctor found that my ileum was so diseased that he could not even get into it and had to pry the valve open just to try and see inside. That same day, I was sent to two more hospitals to have an MRE test and Prometheus tests done since I was already fasting and we wanted answers fast. A few days later my doctor had received the results of everything and to my parents horror I was now officially diagnosed with a moderate to severe case of Crohn’s affecting my ileum with a 70% blockage from inflammation and ulcers. Although this was detrimental news to me and my parents the doctor was relieved to finally have an answer so that he could properly treat me. My doctor immediately started aggressive treatment and started me on a biologic. Within a few months with my new diagnosis and treatment, I was really feeling great compared to before. My doctor brought me back in for yet another endoscopy and colonoscopy and was relieved to inform us that my body was responding well to treatment and told me I was in remission!!!
The journey to this point was not so easy for me and my parents. During the time it took for me to get diagnosed I was really fatigued all the time and always felt sick. Between the vomiting and the diarrhea bouts, I was scared to go to school and other activities. I have gotten so sick at some of my favorite restaurants the embarrassment caused us not to go back. I ended up quitting martial arts and parkour because I was scared of getting sick there and I was also getting told that I was being lazy and not trying. No one understood how I was really feeling inside.
When I got the diagnosis of Crohn’s I was horrified! I did not know what Crohn's was, my first reaction was "am I going to die?" My parents were very scared too, but with my doctor’s help reassured me and explained that I a had disease, and with the proper treatment, I would be ok. I have been on biologic treatment for a little over a year and with all the medications it is not easy. I get very tired easily, and have good and bad days. I have fought hard to not let this disease beat me or let people that don't understand discourage me! I continue to do my best in being active by playing soccer and lacrosse. I am very open about my disease and I love to help others going through this same battle. I always take the opportunities when someone makes a negative comment or picks on me to explain to them that I have Crohns disease and I make an effort to teach them about the disease. Despite all the negativity of having a disease, I am glad it is me. I am a warrior and this disease may slow me down but it will never stop me!
Last year I went to my first Take Steps walk and met the amazing CCFA staff. My parents and I began getting involved with CCFA and we have met a lot of great people. I was very fortunate and got to attend Camp Oasis last year and had the best time ever. I got to learn and share my positivity with others that are experiencing the same things as I am.
This year on April 22nd, 2017 I am excited to be coming back to Take Steps and because of my story of being positive and not letting this disease win, I was selected to be the honored hero at this event! I wish for you all to join me on this day to show your support for me and many others and take part in the Take Steps Walk with me to raise money for a cure.
Did you know that there are 1.6 million men, women, and children who struggle with digestive diseases in the U.S.? Take Steps is the nation's largest event supporting vital research, treatment, and life-enriching programs for people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). Our walk includes food, music, and family activities that brings people from all across the community to join together in fun, solidarity, and purpose. Since its inception, Take Steps has raised more than $75 million nationally to improve the lives of those affected by these diseases. Your donations to CCFA directly fund their research for a cure, Camp Oasis, and the countless education programs and materials they provide to our community. Please help me reach my goal by donating today. Every dollar helps! I will have bracelets for everyone who joins me at the walk to help spread awareness. Thank you for taking your time reading my story and for whatever donation you could afford.