For my Class I (senior) project, I am volunteering for the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America (CCFA) New England Chapter. The CCFA is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization dedicated to finding cures for Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which are chronic inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). The CCFA is particularly relevant in my life because I was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease in the spring of my freshman year at Nobles.
Over the past four years, it has been a tremendous struggle. I have been hospitalized nine times, spending a total of 80 days in the hospital. Many times my weight dropped near 100 pounds. My body has rejected five medications. I have undergone five colonoscopies and endoscopies. In the beginning of my sophomore year, I was required to go on an all-liquid diet for two months during a flare, which was the hardest thing I have ever done. Complications and side effects from my medications gave me severe lung issues.
Hospitalizations, medications, symptoms, and keeping up with academics and athletics consumed my life. However, what is important is that while the disease is a huge part of my life, it does not define me as a person. Thankfully, I have been healthy and in remission since summer 2013.
I am a two-sport varsity athlete at Nobles (squash and tennis). I am going to Dartmouth next year. I will graduate with academic distinction. I am happier than ever, and my life will go on.
I chose this senior project because I want to give back to the CCFA, the organization that supported me through my difficulties with Crohn’s. I want to help others that have my disease, and in particular, help children and teenagers who, like me, struggle every day. My personal connection with Crohn’s disease as well as with the CCFA organization has truly inspired me to pursue a cure for IBD and help our community in any way I can. Spread the word and let’s find a cure!
Brownell will be participating in the CCFA’s 2014 Boston Take Steps Walk on June 7. Learn how can you can support here.