"It has definitely made me stronger."

Gaylyn Henderson
Chapter 1
Learning to Cope

When I was diagnosed with a severe case of Crohn’s, my parents and I read everything we could about it. But there was absolutely nothing that could have prepared me for the emotional challenge.

They gave me brochures and they said because of the steroids, you could get a “chipmunk face”—that’s what they called it. And I gained weight in my face, but not my body.

To me, my body was disfigured. I had this moon face, but I still weighed 70 to 75 pounds. As a teenager, you’re already going through so many changes. But no one else was going through what I was going through.

That was very difficult for me. No one can really prepare you for those kind of things. To this day, learning to cope is a process that never really ends.

Chapter 2
A Closer Family

Crohn’s disease has affected my entire family, not just me. I was always in and out of the hospital. That can be very stressful.

Living with Crohn’s or any chronic disease can be a traumatic experience for everyone involved.

My family—my parents, my two sisters and my brother—we’ve gone through this together and that has brought us closer together.

We are very close-knit and recognize how each moment in life counts.

Because I was so young when I was diagnosed—I was just 14—it has helped to shape me into the person I am today. It has definitely made me stronger.

I remind myself daily that I can get through anything. I’ve been able to get through many difficult situations because living with a chronic illness is a daily struggle. But I know what I have endured in the past, and now I’m fully equipped to face the future.

And thrive.

Chapter 3
Gutless and Glamorous

Living with Crohn’s or any chronic condition can affect your self-esteem and self-worth. You go through so many physical changes. And pain. Sometimes you have a loss of control over your own body.

I started my wesbsite, Gutless and Glamorous, since I suffered a great deal because I was afraid to live with an ostomy. I saw a need to help promote self-worth in young women and men, with a special interest in those living with or contemplating ostomies.

The most gratifying part for me has been the relationships I’ve gained, and the messages I’ve received from other people help me know I’m on the right track, that what I’m doing is not in vain.

When you’re going through Crohn’s disease, it’s imperative that you know you’re not alone. You may feel that no one else knows what you’re going through, but that’s just not the case.

It’s far better to know that you’ll have someone pulling you out the other side than to be sitting alone on your side.