Hi, I'm Shannon, and I've been living with Ulcerative colitis for almost 16 years now. My journey began when I was 12, after enduring months of stomach cramps, pain, and passing blood.

Initially, I was told it was just 'women's problems' and sent home. But as my condition worsened, I found myself in the emergency room, where a nurse expressed concerns about Crohn's or colitis. That day, I was rushed to Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin and diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. Under the care of Dr. Burke and Nurse Mary, I received the best treatment.

However, transitioning to an adult hospital at 18 was challenging. I experienced a severe flare-up just before my leaving cert exams, leading to a significant weight loss and hospitalization. Despite the talk of surgery, I refused to accept it as my fate. Instead, I sought a second opinion and opted for a biologic injection, which provided relief for six years.

Unfortunately, at 24, my biologic injection stopped working for me. I faced another severe flare-up and feared I might need a stoma bag. But thankfully, I found a new medication, Tofacitinib which has been promising. Despite the ups and downs, I refused to let colitis control my life. In 2022, I made the life-changing decision to move to Canada, where I found an incredible doctor.

Now, at 28, I'm embarking on a new treatment plan and receiving the care I've longed for. While living with colitis has been daunting, I've learned to embrace life's challenges. Yes, there are tough days filled with brain fog and exhaustion, but I've learned to give myself grace and make the most of the good days.

My dream of working on a ranch with horses seemed out of reach, but I've realized that illness doesn't define our dreams. We can all live fulfilling lives, despite the challenges we face.

To those supporting loved ones with Crohn's or colitis, please understand that it's not just about being tired or having a stomach-ache. Be patient and compassionate, as we navigate this journey together.

Living with colitis comes with its share of hidden struggles, from anxiety to fatigue to missing out on events. But through it all, I've found strength in facing life's toughest battles. Remember, we're all fighters, and with support and understanding, we can overcome anything. 💜 #StayFighting 💜