A young woman hopes her story of living with inflammatory bowel disease since childhood will motive fellow Langleyites to walk this weekend.
“Participating in the Gutsy Walk can make a difference in the lives of those living with Crohn’s and colitis,” 28-year-old Yvonne Ehrenholz said of an annual fundraising walk being this Sunday.
She’s been living with Crohn’s since age 11.
“Life with Crohn’s disease became my ‘new normal’ and it’s difficult to remember what life was like without the disease,” she said, recalling how she tried desperately to hide the fact that she was ill from all those around her.
“I didn’t tell anyone about my symptoms or treatments, and treated it as a closet disease. As an adolescence I was confused and fearful of other people thinking I was different,” said Ehrenholz.
Between ages 11 and 19, she was subjected to countless blood tests, Xrays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, and other tests.
“It was a challenge to maintain a normal life outside of my medical treatments and self-care,” she recalled.
At 16 years old, she was given a choice between having surgery or trying a relatively new drug, Remicade – where the long-term side-effects were not fully known yet.
“After choosing Remicade, I still required to have part of my colon removed,” she explained.
But despite having IBD and its complications in her life, Ehrenholz said she’s been able to achieve many of her personal goals.
She pursued a bachelor in business administration for marketing management and said she’s settled into a “successful career.”
She’s travelled to Peru, Europe, and Mexico and often hikes or runs on the North Shore mountains.
“These are things that seem impossible when dealing with a flare up,” she shared.
This weekend’s Gutsy Walk is a fundraiser for Crohn’s and Colitis Canada.
And, according to Ehrenholz, Crohn’s and Colitis Canada is not only fundraising for a cure, but since becoming involved with this organization she realized she wasn’t alone.
“The monthly meetings have helped me meet people who are also suffering from IBD and experiencing the same challenges as me. This has helped me remember that no man is an island and my journey is not something to be ashamed of,” Ehrenholz said.
She’s invite others to join her for the walk on June 3 and to “help find a cure for IBD, while raising awareness doing it.”
The cure, she said, is steps away from reality for both Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
The walk, which last two year was held at Campbell Valley Regional Park, outgrow that facility.
So this year, the event has been moved back to Surrey, and specifically to the Fleetwood Park, at 158th Street and 80th Avenue in Surrey.
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m., followed by the walk at 10:30.
Information is available at 1-800-513-8202, or by emailing gutsywalk_B.C@chronsandcolitis.ca.