Take Steps Honored Heroes represent the Crohn's disease & ulcerative colitis warriors living in our community. They share their story of life with IBD to raise awareness and inspire others to join the fight against digestive diseases.
Our 2017 Honored Hero is Alex Crenshaw pictured here with her dad, former Congressman and our 2017 Take Steps Jacksonville Honorary Chair, Ander Crenshaw. Here is her story:
I was originally diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis in the summer before my freshman year at college. It was a real struggle to deal with an embarrassing digestive disorder while trying to fit in on campus, but thankfully, I had a wonderful family support system and found good friends who understood. After several years, it became evident that the medications were not helping me and my doctors felt the only other option was to remove my colon. The surgery was not easy, but the end result was miraculous! I was able to go off all medications and aside from infrequent scar tissue adhesion issues, I spent eight years as normal as anyone else.
I began to speak with others who were going to have the same surgery that I did. By encouraging and education other people who were dealing with what I had already been through, I was able to find a purpose for my illness. Sadly though, I began to have digestive issues again and was diagnosed with Crohn's disease. My health has been up and down ever since, but I have found inspiration in being able to help others thorough fundraising for the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation and speaking to nursing classes from the perspective of a patient. I have been involved with almost every walk that the Central & Northeastedern Florida Chapter of the Crohn's & Colitis Foundation has put on in Jacksonville.
I did miss the last two walks, but my reason is that I finally followed my own dreams. I stopped being afraid of leaving my long-term doctors and family and moved to the mountains of western North Carolina. Since moving here a little over two years ago, I began developing a network of new doctors and supportive friends and Now I am so happy with the changes I have made. I am able to ride my horse, take care of my dogs and I am learning to quilt. I have found that my health has been much better because I am more active here in the cooler climate. I still struggle, but finally deciding to control the things that I can has made all the difference.
A couple of weeks ago, I got a call that the foundation wanted me to come to the walk this year as Honored Hero. I am so humbled that they thought of me! So once again this year I will be at the walk. I am traveling from my North Carolina mountain home to join Take Steps Jacksonville 2017. So why don't you take a day and join me there? Let's raise money and build awareness this April for all those who suffer from Inflammatory Bowel Disease. With your help, we can continue to make progress finding better treatments for these disease and ultimately a cure.