Crohn’s disease means a lifelong battle

“Today I will fight again. This disease will not own me or define me.” I can see these words being said each and every day from our brave Keri.

"Keri showed signs of infection. The morning of July 31st they took her in for emergency surgery. They found her colon had perforations in it and they removed her colon. Dr. said surgery went fine but that she was and is very sick." This was something that I was not expecting to hear.

Keri has been diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, for which there is no cure – a disease that requires a daily personal battle with things most of us prefer not to discuss with others. And for those who must deal with it, one thing is certain. It’s horrible, it’s overwhelming, and it’s humiliating.

While Crohn’s disease itself is not terminal, the complications often result in death. Keeping it under control requires a real commitment to fight and a resolve to sustain that commitment every day. The motivation to fight is the strong desire to not suffer, and deviation often results in serious illness. Each surgery or flare-up leaves Keri with a little bigger battle to face, so she will keep fighting with our support.

And yet I know she feels lucky – lucky to be alive and grateful to be in the midst of a season of fewer struggles. I know she feels blessed, and truly understand that in the big scheme of things this struggle is but a moment.

And in this season of reprieve, I know she will carry the cold knowledge that there are more than 1 million other people suffering like her. So few people understand this disease, yet it’s part of the lives of so many people all around them. I hope to help change that.

I am telling Keri's story only to help bring a little attention to what life is like for those who battle Crohn’s – because sharing equals attention, and attention equals awareness.

And awareness builds hope that something can be done – maybe not in my lifetime, but perhaps for children in our future.

So today, I share. And today I will help Keri fight again, with every intention of winning.

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Organizer and beneficiary

Kham Sythavongsa 
Organizer
Portland, OR
Keri Heitzman 
Beneficiary

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