Tanya Usher and her two-and-a-half-year-old daughter Madeline are bound by love, a bloodline, and ulcerative colitis.
At 17 months, Madeline was diagnosed with indeterminate Crohn’s and colitis. A biopsy showed she had suffered from this for some time.
“She is one of two youngest cases they have diagnosed,” Tanya said, about her daughter.
A few years earlier, in 2009, Tanya herself was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.
“I continue to have flare-ups, which affects all areas of my life; my job, my marriage, and now, as a mother,” Tanya said.
Gutsy Walk is Canada’s largest community event committed to raising funds for research, and to support those suffering from Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
Spearheaded by Crohn’s and Colitis Canada, the Fraser Valley West Chapter’s June 4 walk happens at Campbell Valley Regional Park, starting with registration at 8:30 a.m., followed by a warm-up at 10:15 a.m. and the walk itself getting underway at 10:30 a.m.
Walk distances are 1.5 km and 4 km. Dogs on leashes are welcome.
The Fraser Valley West event is one of 60-plus Gutsy Walk locations across Canada dedicated to helping improve the lives of adults and children affected by Crohn’s and colitis, including Madeline, who has lived with ulcerative colitis for more than half of her young life.
Soon after Madeline turned one, Tanya noticed that her daughter’s stools were loose, and streaked with blood and mucus.
“I said to my husband, ‘I think Maddie might have the same disease as me,’” Tanya related.
Tanya didn’t want to be right – but at the same time, she was sure Madeline had ulcerative colitis.
After numerous doctors’ visits, a test finally indicated that Madeline had some sort of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) which put her on the list for a colonoscopy and endoscopy.
But Tanya wasn’t satisfied with a piece of paper on a desk, and with it a possible three-to-six-month wait for a diagnosis.
“No, that’s not okay; my daughter’s bleeding and nobody’s helping her until she gets officially diagnosed,” she told the Times.
After some determined efforts by her parents, Madeline, who Tanya describes as “a trooper,” was finally diagnosed.
She is now on medication to control the disease.
“You can tell the difference,” Tanya said. “There is an improvement.”
“Her current treatment she is on is starting to finally work, but she does get sick a lot,” Tanya added. “Her immune system is lower, so when she gets all these viruses it alters her markers when she gets her blood work and stuff. It’s hard to tell, sometimes, if it’s the disease or if it’s the fact she’s fighting a virus.”
In 2016, Tanya and her family participated in the Gutsy Walk for the first time.
“After learning about Madeline’s diagnosis, we realized it was important we learn everything about the disease, our treatment choices and help to raise funds for research and to find a cure,” Tanya said on the Fraser Valley West event web page. “Participating in the Gutsy Walk introduced us to the Crohn’s and Colitis family. So many wonderful people volunteer their time to help get the word out while trying to raise funds for research and finding a cure.”
Tanya volunteers with the Fraser Valley West Chapter and said events like the Gutsy Walk helps shed some light on Crohn’s and ulcerative colitis, and those who suffer from the diseases.
“I’ve really met a lot of great people,” Tanya said. “Sharing stories and getting all the info, I think it’s just so important because before that, I didn’t know any of that (support) existed. It’s something that I keep trying to do… pass the word along.”
To donate to the Gutsy Walk, visit gutsywalk.ca, and if you want to donate to a specific location, click on the website’s ‘locations’ tab.
• Crohn’s and Colitis Canada notes that Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis are diseases that inflame the lining of the GI (gastrointestinal) tract and disrupt a body’s ability to digest food, absorb nutrients, and eliminate waste in a healthy manner.
As a result, those who suffer from the diseases might have any of the following symptoms: abdominal pain, cramping, gas, bloating, fatigue, diarrhea (possibly bloody) and loss of appetite.
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) describes a group of conditions, the two main forms of which are Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. IBD also includes indeterminate colitis.
• One in 150 people live with Crohn’s or colitis.
• Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is more common in developed countries, urban areas and temperate climates.
• Canada has among the highest rates in the world.
• Crohn’s and colitis can be diagnosed at any age, but people are more frequently diagnosed before the age of 30.
• Crohn’s disease has almost doubled in Canadian children under 10 since 1995.
• Males and females are equally affected.