To kick-off IBD Awareness Week (December 1-7), we’re thrilled to announce our new IBD social ambassadors, Brian Greenberg - founder of Intense Intestines Foundation, living with Crohn’s disease - and** Jackie Zimmerman**, founder of Girls With Guts, living with ulcerative colitis.
In addition to writing regularly for HealthCentral, these leaders in the IBD community will be managing the new IBD HealthCentral Facebook Page to share resources, personal experiences and support others living with Crohn’s and colitis.
Get to know them better by reading their letters to you below and be sure to “Like” our new Facebook page to stay in touch and up-to-date throughout the year.
_My journey with Crohn’s disease started at age 11 when I was diagnosed. Like most kids at that age, I didn’t know what was ahead of me or how to deal with my disease, so I just ignored it when I could. During my freshman year of college my Crohn’s couldn’t be ignored anymore. Two days after my 21st birthday, I had my first resection, which gave me 4-5 decent years. Those healthy years ended at 26 when I had my second resection; I was a grown man having accidents and never going out because I had such little colon left. Still, I was determined to get my life back. At age 28 I decided to get an ostomy which has changed my life for the better. _
While riding the ups and downs of the IBD roller coaster, I founded the Intense Intestines Foundation to help others living with IBD and their families. We do everything we can to raise awareness and show the world that IBD goes #BeyondtheBathroom, but our main mission is to help patients out with the financial hardships that come along with a chronic disease.
Despite my life not following the typical road, I will always put up a fight and do my best to live a normal life with Crohn’s disease and an ostomy. I love helping people and raising awareness, so this work never gets old. I’m extremely excited to represent HealthCentral as their IBD Social Ambassador, and to learn from all of your unique experiences while supporting you through good times and bad. I truly believe with the right attitude, IBDers can accomplish amazing things. Together, #WeWillBeatIBD!
When HealthCentral approached me about taking this role as a Social Ambassador for the IBD community, I was ecstatic – not only because I love working with HealthCentral, but because having another resource for quality information for our community is a really exciting thing. I’ve been advocating for IBD issues since 2010 with my own blog, Blood Poop and Tears, and later through Girls With Guts._ A__nd through the last 5 years, I’ve seen so many new blogs and websites come to life, which is great because it means IBD is getting more attention. It can, however, get really complicated when false or incorrect information is getting out to the masses through these new resources and personal experiences. But what I love about HealthCentral and this new Facebook page we’re creating is that it’s the perfect combination of fact and real world experience. _
I have been an ulcerative colitis patient since 2009, and learned quickly how fast IBD can take your life and flip it upside-down. By 2010, I was already starting my surgeries to get a j-pouch. My sickness hit me hard and fast, but I have come out the other side a smarter, kinder and passionate person. IBD has given me a grand purpose and some of the most amazing experiences I never would have had without it. My work through Girls With Guts focuses on empowering women with IBD and ostomies; to show everyone you can still lead a happy and even healthy life despite this diagnosis. I’m happy to be a resource for this community and now for HealthCentral – I look forward to getting to know you all!
Kristina Brooks is a gluten-free digital editor at HealthCentral, with a background in animal biology, ecology, and health science. While studying broadcast journalism, she discovered the great need for health reporters that could translate research to the public. In her work, she hopes to use research to help consumers make smart decisions about their healthcare, and empower patients to stay confident and in charge of their chronic conditions. Kristina works on the HealthySelf newsletter, as well as HealthCentral’s MythWeek.